Brandon woman sentenced to 12 years in prison for operating pill mill

The owner of Family Medical Express Center Inc. in Brandon, Florida received a federal prison sentence of 12 years and 7 months for illegally using her medical clinic as a pill mill. Her co-conspirators handed out prescriptions of almost 6,000 Xanax pills and over 28,000 oxycodone pills.

Yolanda Camara, 49, pleaded guilty to drug conspiracy, drug distribution and lying to federal investigators. Her money judgment ordered by the court as proceeds of her offenses was a total of $124,285.64. This was not her first arrest; she previously committed a grand theft crime.

The Drug Enforcement Administration and the St. Petersburg Police Department investigated the case. Assistant United States Attorney Daniel George took the case to court.

Camara worked alongside her co-conspirators to sell illegal prescriptions to people who came in not needing the medications. In addition, Camara sold prescriptions to people who then sold the drugs per pill on the street.

One of the medical clinic doctors, Anil Sahijwani, wrote prescriptions as directed by Camara for people he had not met or examined as well fictitious people. Dr. Sahijwani was sentenced to federal prison for 3 years and 9 months.

In total, six people were prosecuted in this pill mill case.

Florida Senior Dies From Heat Stroke After Falling Off Scooter at Nursing Home

Last July a resident of a Florida assisted living facility fell off her electric scooter in the community courtyard. She was trapped for six hours before she was found by another resident’s family. Her adult children are now suing Harbor Place at Port St. Lucie for wrongful death, claiming that the fall and sun burns caused their mother’s death at 97.

Kathleen “Kay” Menard was at risk of falling, and had done so 14 separate times during her nine years at the community. “She always had a fall risk, and that is why we had her in assisted living,” explained Maria Gryner, Menard’s daughter, to the Palm Beach Post.

Menard passed away September 29. According to her death certificate, the causes of death included the fall from the scooter, heat stroke, extreme burns on her feet and nutritional deficiency.

The family’s attorney saw the case as one of “outrageous neglect.” He said Menard “essentially burned to death due to a facility not keeping any tabs on her and allowing her to bake outside in the summer heat for many, many hours.”

Erika Stewart, Harbor Place’s executive director, stated, “At Harbor Place at Port St. Lucie, providing compassionate care to our residents while ensuring they receive the utmost respect, dignity and independence is our highest priority. We take any allegation to the contrary seriously.”

After the fall, Menard was transported to a local hospital with a temperature of 105.7 degrees. Her burns and heat stroke eventually developed into sepsis. Menard then went back to Harbor Place for a short period of time before she registered at a skilled nursing facility.

Physician sentenced to prison after pleading guilty to pill mill conviction

On February 23, 2017, Dr. Anil Sahijwani pled guilty for illegally prescribing oxycodone, Adderall and other drugs. The Florida Department of Health rescinded the medical license of the 43-year-old doctor after he was sentenced to 45 months in federal prison.

Sahijwani’s practice was at Family Medical Express Center, Inc. located in Brandon, Florida. He and some of his co-workers prescribed controlled substances to people who did not require them. These people took the medication and sold it to others in the community as single pills.

The Drug Enforcement Administration investigated the situation, discovering that Sahijwani had given prescriptions to people he had not even met, as directed by his co-conspirators. He also allegedly prescribed oxycodone from his car in a parking lot in Tampa.

Lori Ellis, a real estate worker in an office across the street, said, “We saw people from behind our building going over there and then coming out, screaming, ranting and raving, their arms shaking, that they wouldn’t give them their drugs. That they had paid them money but wouldn’t give them their drugs.”

Sahijwani illegally wrote prescriptions for more than 18,000 oxycodone pills.

DEA Special Agent in Charge Adolphus P. Write says, “As law enforcement addresses the ongoing opioid crisis, it is unconscionable that a physician would be part of the Pill Mill problem that has left its indelible mark on the Tampa area and the country. DEA, and our law enforcement partners, will remain vigilant in finding these unscrupulous medical professionals and clinics and see to it that they are prosecuted accordingly.”

The Court demanded that Sahijwani surrender his DEA registration number on top of $182,266.66 and the value of his Porsche. The U.S. Department of Justice claims that this amounts to his earnings from illegal activity.

Nursing home closes after resident attacks another resident

The question of the elderly’s safety within nursing homes is again in the spotlight with another offense at Good Samaritan Retirement Home in Williston, Florida. A recently exposed video reveals a resident of the Good Samaritan nursing home beating another resident, a helpless 86-year-old with dementia.

The video shows the 52-year-old resident punching the other man over 50 times within the span of two minutes, apparently over a stolen cupcake. The attack occurred in a secured common area that was unsupervised. The video surveillance for the unit was also unattended at the time of the incident.

The staff arrived at the scene of the beating a half a minute later. The 86-yer-old resident was sent to the hospital with a bruised and swollen face and hip pain.

The resident who beat the elderly man had been suffering from traumatic brain injury. He had already been arrested on multiple occasions for assault and battery. Because the man had been determined mentally incapacitated, he was not sent to jail and was not arrested for the beating on due to his limited capacity, according to the police report.

The man, whose name is unreleased, came to Good Samaritan in 2015. According to the staff of the nursing home, he had not shown visible aggression since he had been admitted. He was evaluated after beating the elderly man and later was allowed to come back to Good Samaritan.

Once he returned to the facility, he was given constant one-on-one supervision. However, the report by the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration claims that “there was no evidence that the staff had been trained on the scope of such responsibilities.”

Under the Florida Health Care Association, assisted living facilities and nursing homes are required to have staff training programs focused on understanding and preventing neglect and abuse, including abuse perpetrated by another resident.

Good Samaritan has recently been shut down after a long history of abuse and neglect violations.

Florida toddler dies of meningitis as doctors fail to diagnose

Last November, Connor Mincey was sent home sick from a childcare center in Miami, Florida. That day, his parents, Donald and Doreen Mincey, took him to a pediatrician where he was diagnosed with a cold. The pediatrician cleared the 22-month-old child to go back to daycare. Connor died on December 3.

The two weeks between Connor’s initial symptoms and his death were a “nightmare,” said Donald Mincey. The parents took Connor to urgent care and to see a pediatrician.

The Minceys took Connor to the emergency room at Nicklaus Children’s Hospital after they recorded his fever at 103 degrees. The doctors believed that Connor did not need the attention of the emergency room and suggested that they take him to a nearby urgent care instead.

Donald Mincey recalled that Connor was diagnosed with wheezing bronchitis at the urgent care center. “He’s dying in our arms,” Mincey explained, incredulous. “The doctor told us to come back in four to six days. He had lost mobility by then. He couldn’t even stand. To keep giving this child Tylenol and Motrin . . . and he’s not improving. We knew something wasn’t right.”

Soon after, when Connor’s conditioned worsened, the Minceys took him to see a pediatrician again. He told the Minceys to go back to the Nicklaus Children’s emergency room. Connor was admitted there and prescribed antibiotics. Minsey’s attorney Judd Rosen said, “From November 21 to November 28, he was never given antibiotics. We feel that antibiotics would have been able to treat the condition that Connor had.” Doctors finally diagnosed the child with pneumococcal meningitis on November 30.

Pneumococcal meningitis is an extremely infectious disease catalyzed by common bacteria spread by coughing, sneezing and contact with infected saliva or mucus.

Connor was the first of two children at the downtown Miami childcare center to die after getting sick.

Two staff members of a Florida nursing home arrested on charges of neglect

Last December, two arrests were made concerning nursing home neglect at a Williston, Florida retirement facility, the Good Samaritan. The arrests were made based on accusations of nursing home neglect.

On November 1, Betty Hurst, 72, was wandering around outside the nursing home when Sudeall found her. Earlier that night, Hurst had fallen and struck her head.

Hurst was taken back inside by Sudeall, who allegedly failed to provide first aid care. Six hours later Hurst was found unresponsive. She was transported to UF Health Shands Hospital where she died the following afternoon, police stated.

On December 7, Nenita Alfonso Sudeall, 48, an administrator at the Good Samaritan was arrested by the U.S. Marshals Fugitive Task Force.

According to Florida law, the liability in the case of nursing home neglect is placed on the facility administrator. The Good Samaritan nursing home is under investigation by the Florida Department of Children, the state’s Agency for Health Care Administration (AHCA) and the State Attorney’s Office.

A few days after Sudeall’s arrest, Rhaimley Yap Romero, 31, was also charged with nursing home neglect. Romero replaced Sudeall after her arrest.

A nurse gave Romero specific instructions regarding a resident’s outpatient procedure, telling him to let her know if the resident had any change in health. A staff member contacted Romero twice over the weekend to inform him of the resident’s decreasing condition. Romero allegedly failed to contact the nurse until Monday, when he was back at the nursing home.

The Good Samaritan Retirement Home went under investigation, by the Florida AHCA which reported finding the facility lacking necessary supervision and staffing as well as being unable to provide adequate care for their patients.

The AHCA has fined The Good Samaritan $73,750 for 63 deficits over the last five years. The Good Samaritan holds the most fines out of any facility in the region.

Abuse in Florida nursing homes is apparent with hidden cameras

Following the 13 deaths at a Hollywood Hills nursing home during Hurricane Irma, many families are concerned for the safety of their loved ones in the care of nursing facilities. As a result, more families are placing hidden cameras inside the nursing home rooms to see what is actually happening to elderly patients.

Recently, disturbing video recordings from a family whose loved one was in a nursing home in Pompano Beach, Florida. The 94-year-old male patient with dementia was doused in mouthwash, hit and pushed around. Blake Dolman, the attorney of the man’s family, says, “Mouthwash has alcohol in it. Guess what? He’s going to end up with ulcers and bedsores from dried out skin, and that’s exactly what happened to this man when he had stage three ulcers, that ultimately proved to be fatal.”

Due to concerns of her father’s health, the patient’s daughter placed a hidden camera in the room. The video proved to be valuable in the lawsuit. The nursing assistant who abused the man with dementia has lost her license, but no criminal charges were brought.

Other hidden camera videos show similar neglect and abuse in Florida nursing homes. In one, an employee is seen sleeping through an alarm going off in a patient’s room. Another shows a nursing assistant neglecting to fix a patient’s breathing tube, then denying that she knew about it when another assistant came to the scene.

Currently, Illinois, Maryland, New Mexico, Oklahoma, Texas and Washington allow video monitoring in nursing homes. However, the Florida Health Care Association is against the use of cameras to monitor nursing home patients.

FHP trooper hit by drunk driver while investigating previous accident

Late last year, a Florida Highway Patrol trooper, Daniel Cruz, was investigating an earlier accident scene when he was hit by a drunk driver.

At around 1 a.m. on Okeechobee Road, John Bencosme, 26, of Miami, was driving his Hyundai Velastar while intoxicated. He crashed into the cars from the previous accident, which made a Hyundai Elantra turn and hit Cruz. The trooper was thrown several feet through the air.

Accordire scared to be hit by a car than to be shot out there while they are performing their duties.” ng to troopers Bencosme’s breath smelled of alcohol prompting them to conduct field sobriety tests. Bencosme’s blood alcohol level was .201, which is twice the legal driving limit. On top of facing a charge of driving under the influence, Bencosme has been charged with causing serious personal injury.

Florida Highway Patrol Trooper Joe Sanchez said, “Our roads have gotten to the point where troopers are mo

According to Troopers, Cruz suffered from injured leg ligaments as well as a small broken back bone. After the accident he was airlifted to Jackson Memorial Hospital’s Ryder Trauma Center where he was in critical but stable condition.

In Florida medical malpractice lawsuits rarely lead to disclipline

Medical malpractice cases in Florida have consistently been seen as an issue, but the state health officals rarely take any action against doctors. Under the law, doctors must report all malpractice lawsuits even when closed. However, little action is being taken towards getting these dangerous doctors out of practice.

Florida lawmakers have called this situation a “medical malpractice crisis.” In 1988 a state law placed a limit on the amount of damages patients could receive against doctors in court and created a division to regulate doctors.

However, lawyers who have participated in malpractice lawsuits across Florida claim that they are not usually contacted by the state Department of Health once a case has been settled. Some attorneys say they have even given up on the state to take action agaisnt these doctors.

Over five years, Dr. Pachavit Kasemsap has owed almost $3 million in five different medical malpractice cases. In one case, Kasemsap sliced an artery to Christine Murray’s liver while performing gallbladder surgery. A jury ruled that doctor was negligent and ordered him to pay Murray $600,000. However, the doctor did not face any state disciplinary action for his negligent behavior.

The health deparmtnet is required to review all malpractice lawsuits against Florida doctors to identify and discipline them. However, an investigation by the Sun Sentinel found that the deartment’s reviews infrequently lead to punishment.

Dr. Ata Atogho, in the midst of delivering a baby with a weak heart, decided to speak with his stockbroker for eight minutes. Though he knew that the baby needed extra help, he did not perform a caesarian section. As a result the child was born with extreme brain damage. He is now bedridden and requires 24 hour care. Atogho had written in the medical record that the mother did not want a C-section. The nurse claimed that this was a lie and that the mother pleaded multiple times for the emergency procedure.

Though Atogho had three other lawsuits from negligent deliveries in 2013, he has received no disciplinary action and can still deliver babies in Florida.

Florida Supreme Court eliminates parts of 2013 medical malpractice law

On November 9, the Florida Supreme Court found itself disunited. The court rejected multiple aspects of a 2013 medical-malpractice law because the changes “have gashed Florida’s constitutional right to privacy.”

Pieces of the 2013 law, justices said, could potentially allow for patients’ medical information to be disclosed even if it does not relate to the malpractice cases. The 2013 law dealt with problems in the process in which defense attorneys gather information in medical malpractice cases and their “ex parte” communications with plaintiffs’ doctors.

“Ex parte” communications are conversations between defense attorneys and the doctors surrounding the patient’s treatment. The 2013 law allowed these types of discussions to occur without the presence of plaintiffs’ attorneys. In ex parte communications where a judge is not present, communication is undocumented and could result in patient privacy violations.

Florida’s Constitution protects its citizens against violations of privacy to plaintiffs because the ex parte discussions were unrecorded and without the presence of plaintiffs’ attorneys. Based on this interpretation of the Florida Constitution, Justice R. Fred Lewis believed that this 2013 malpractice law was unconstitutional. Justice Lewis was joined by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente and Peggy Quince in the voting to strike down parts of the law.

However, Justice Charles Canady does not see the law as unconstitutional. He believes that Lewis’s opinion is an “unwarranted interference with the Legislature’s authority.”

Those who support the 2013 law along with Canady argue that these ex parte conversations can generate further information surrounding medical malpractice claims, leading to resolutions before the cases go to trial.

The Supreme Court’s decision, on November 9, overturned the decision made by the First District Court of Appeal.