By JACK WEATHERLY
Dr. Charles Miles, president of the Mississippi Board of Medical Licensure, issued a statement Monday defending the board’s selection of an executive director whose medical background includes malpractice lawsuits.
Dr. Kenneth E. Cleveland was sued 12 times in Hinds County Circuit Court in a 10-year period. Settlements were reached in some and others were dismissed outright.
Miles said in the release on Monday that the “negativity surrounding” the selection of Cleveland centers on the publicity on the lawsuits, which were first reported by The Clarion-Ledger.
“It is not within the purview of [the board] to determine the outcome of a civil lawsuit,”Miles stated.
“What would fall under the board’s purview is if the circumstances surrounding a lawsuit resulted in a complaint being filed with [the board] against a physician or other licensee. In the case of the new executive director, that did not happen.”
The court actions were brought between 2002 and 2012 because of alleged malpractice, including a wrongful death lawsuit in 2011. He performed bariatric, or weight-loss surgeries as well as general surgery.
Dr. John Hall, whose contract as executive director was not renewed last year, said in a telephone interview on Monday, that “12 lawsuits in 10 years strikes me as an extraordinary number. Not just a large number.”
Some of the other 12 candidates also were targets of lawsuits as well, Miles said. “That’s part of the price you pay for practicing medicine in this litigious society,” he said.
Christina Shiffer, director of communications for the American Board of Surgery, said in an interview with the Mississippi Business Journal.
â”Surgeons get sued a lot,” Shiffer said. “We would be notified if any action was taken against his license.”
The Federation of State Medical Boards has a website, docinfo.org, that lists any such actions.
The Mississippi Licensure Board’s website is being revamped and made more user friendly, and free. Consumer Reports ranked it 65th among all such sites in 2016 and The Atlanta Journal-Constitution ranked Mississippi 51st among all states and the District of Columbia in patient protection from abusive physicians.
The Clarion-Ledger quoted an unnamed attorney as saying Cleveland stopped his surgical practice because he had health concerns that prevented him from standing for long periods.
He founded and managed and was primary physician of Remedy True Health, which describes itself as “a medical spa specializing in weight loss, aesthetics and anti-aging services.” The clinic does not perform surgery.
Miles said that Cleveland is in the process of shutting down the clinic and will assume his new duties with the board on March 1.
Cleveland’s salary has not been set, Miles said. The board presented to the appropriations committee of the Legislature a request for $137,500 for the position, but the duties that go with it are being separated into two positions, an executive director and a business manager.
He said that the board is negotiating with the committee to increase the pay for the executive director, but that he doesn’t believe the total for both jobs will exceed what the $250,000 Hall was paid.
Hall took an aggressive approach to enforcement of regulations on physician-patient relationships, even to the point of supporting legislation that would make sexual relations between doctors and patients a felony.
The legislation died. It was not well-received by the board.
Hall said in an email he sent to The Clarion-Ledger that “the board has a deep, irremediable conflict of interest that arise[s] directly from its structure. By statute, the board members are nominated by the [Mississippi Medical Association] and appointed by the governor.”
“This leads to the disciplinary body being controlled by the same ‘trade guild’ it’s supposed to regulate. . . . This is fundamentally a legislative problem.”
Hall, who holds medical and law degrees as well as a master of business administration degree, is working for not-for-profit Dallas-based hospital chain in a financial position.
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