Bad Medicine

He allegedly fondled and caressed patients against their will. AIDS patients. No wonder he is known as Doctor Scumbag.

The former employee and other sources say that soon after the first PWAC article was published in July, a state investigator visited Kirkpatrick's office and asked to see his records. According to the former employee, BMB Management, the company that now owned the clinic and employed Kirkpatrick, expressed alarm.

Further complicating matters, a lawsuit accusing Kirkpatrick of malpractice was due to be heard in August. Vernelle Lowder had tested positive for HIV before becoming Kirkpatrick's patient in December 1991. Even though the Florida Department of Health and Rehabilitative Services A not Kirkpatrick A had made the faulty diagnosis, Lowder argued that during the ten months she was his patient, Kirkpatrick should have realized she exhibited none of the symptoms associated with AIDS. On the eve of trial, Kirkpatrick settled the case out of court and agreed to pay Lowder $250,000.

Kirkpatrick left town for vacation after settling with Lowder. While he was gone, he was fired from his position at the clinic. Shortly thereafter he also resigned his staff privileges at Mercy Hospital. "Mercy Hospital learned of the allegations about Dr. Kirkpatrick in August," asserts Mercy president Edward J. Rosasco. "When we questioned him about these allegations, Dr. Kirkpatrick resigned."

According to clinic staffers, Kirkpatrick then abruptly packed up his family and moved to Virginia. "He never faced anyone," an employee says sadly. "He never said anything to any of us."

If the emergency order suspending his license is approved by the Tallahassee office of the recently created Agency for Health Care Administration, Kirkpatrick can request an immediate hearing and ask the courts to overturn the order. But regardless of whether the doctor challenges the order, the case will be considered by a special panel from the Florida Board of Medicine to determine if there is probable cause to file a formal complaint. If the complaint is sustained, the Board of Medicine can assess penalties ranging from probation and a fine to permanent revocation of his license to practice medicine in Florida. (Health Care Administration investigators routinely report suspected criminal behavior to their local State Attorney's Office. A spokeswoman for the Dade State Attorney's Office declined comment.)

Former patient Jordan hopes for some form of disciplinary action. "I'm going through therapy," he says. "I'm trying to work this out through groups, but the more I try to push it out, it's there. I just don't want to hurt any more. Sometimes I ask myself, 'Is anyone ever going to say anything or is he just going to keep doing this?'

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