Psychiatrist’s License Suspended

Earlier I had posted a story about how Medicaid had removed Miami area Dr. Steven L. Kaplan as a provider from its program. His cases could no longer be covered by Medicaid. Dr. Kaplan is a psychiatrist who has come under scrutiny for the over drugging of his patients. An autistic child, Denis Maltez, died as a result of such over drugging at Dr. Kaplan’s hands. An autopsy in fact determined neuroleptic drugs to be the cause of death in Denis Maltez case.

Now Dr. Kaplan is back in the news. The Department of Health has filed an emergency suspension of Dr. Kaplan’s license to practice medicine. Health News Florida reported on this action in a story, ‘Emergency’ action took 4 yrs.

The emergency suspension order by State Surgeon General Ana Viamonte Ros released late Friday makes no reference to the warnings about Kaplan that it received from the Agency for Health Care Administration’s Medicaid unit in May 2006. The order says it received a complaint about Kaplan in November 2009 and began its investigation at that time.

May 2006. Yep, 1 finger, 2 finger, 3 finger, 4, now. 2010 is 4 years later.

The DOH’s emergency order does not name the patient beyond his initials, but the circumstances make clear it was Denis Maltez, an autistic boy who lived in a state-licensed group home for foster children called Rainbow Ranch. He was Kaplan’s patient for a year before dying at age 12.

Denis Maltez died on May 23, 2007

A foster child, on Medicaid, age 12, kaput. He might as well have been dumped into a dumpster. He’s worm’s meat currently.

Records provided by AHCA show that the Medicaid Program Integrity Office notified the DOH Division of Medical Quality Assurance in writing on May 12, 2006 about problems with Kaplan’s “prescribing habits” as they pertained to “antipsychotic medications for Medicaid recipients/patients.”

That it took the Department of Health 4 years to act on this matter makes Florida as a state a little ‘slow’. Unfortunately, being a little ‘slow’, in this instance and in that of the recently quashed Gabriel Myers bill, translates ultimately into what we’ve got, a tab paid in dead children.

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2 Responses

  1. This is indeed a bit slow, to use your understatement of the century. Antipsychotics are sometiems use for autistic children wiht legitimate reason, but if there were concerns about this doc’s prescribing long before Denis died, something mor emust be worng here than a simple medication error in one child.

    • We might have a few issues about the terms “use” and “legitimate reason”. Neuroleptic drugs are also “used” on children with developmental difficulties, but it is always debateable as to whether this is putting them to good “use”, and “with legitimate reason”. When that “use” is “treatment’, there is always some question as to whether this treatment is right treatment or mistreatment.

      Yep, 1 year before Denis Maltez died concerns were raised about this doctors prescribing practices, but it took them another 3 years to get around to suspending his license to practice medicine.

      The autopsy found psychiatric drugs to be the cause of the child’s death, and Dr. Kaplan was still denying that it could have anything to do with him. The good news is that his license has been suspended. There are doctors out there who are still over dosing their patients. This piece of news might help convince some of them finally to take notice, and to lighten up on the pills.

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