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A Miami doctor who seriously injured patients during liposuction and so-called Brazilian butt lift surgeries regained the right to practice medicine on Monday while he appeals the Florida medical board’s final order to revoke his license.
A three-judge panel for Florida’s First District Court of Appeals in Tallahassee agreed on a 2-to-1 vote — with Chief Judge L. Clayton Roberts dissenting without comment — to grant the doctor’s request to delay the revocation of his license.
The doctor, Osakatukei “Osak” Omulepu, was not available for comment. His attorney, Monica Felder Rodriguez, said on Monday that, “Today he gets to go back to practice with no restrictions.”
Rodriguez said she did not know if Omulepu was performing surgeries in South Florida on Monday. After the Florida Board of Medicine revoked Omulepu’s license on April 18, she said, “He had to cancel everything.”
When it revoked Omulepu’s license, the state medical board said the doctor seriously injured two different patients on the same day in May 2015 by puncturing their organs during surgeries for liposuction and fat transfers to the buttocks.
Omulepu also injured two additional patients that month after failing to use the correct proportion of local anesthesia and other medications when performing liposuction, leading to extensive bleeding and other complications, according to the Florida Department of Health’s complaint against the doctor.
Florida health officials imposed an emergency restriction on Omulepu’s medical license in February 2016, claiming that the doctor presented “an immediate serious danger” to the public health and prohibiting him from performing liposuction and fat transfer procedures.
Research published in Dermatologic Surgery Journal concluded that the elective procedure liposuction, when performed under general anesthesia, required further investigation because deaths from this procedure continue to occur.
Omulepu appealed to Florida’s First District Court of Appeals, which quashed the health department’s restriction order in August 2016, allowing the doctor to return to surgery.
Rodriguez said her client has had a clean record with patients since then. “As far as I’m aware,” she said, “since he’s gone back to practice after that emergency restriction order, I don’t think he’s had any complications with patients.”
The state health department issued a second complaint against Omulepu in August 2016, claiming that he had injured a fifth patient in April 2015 by once again failing to use the correct proportion of local anesthesia and other medications, and by exceeding the standard amount of fatty tissue injected into the patient’s buttocks.
That case was later dismissed.
For Omulepu’s injured patients, news that the physician had regained his right to practice medicine on Monday came as a disappointment.
Today he gets to go back to practice with no restrictions.
Monica Felder-Rodriguez, attorney for Osak Omulepu
Nyosha Fowler, one of the four patients injured by Omulepu in May 2015, said she keeps in touch with about a dozen other patients injured by Omulepu, though she could not immediately recall if any of them had suffered injuries since August 2016.
Fowler said she has not been able to regain a normal life since Omulepu repeatedly punctured her bowels and injected fat into her sciatic nerve, causing her to lose function of her left foot. She said she still has about $2 million in unpaid medical bills as a result of her injuries, and that she walks with a brace.
“I keep feeling victimized all over again,” said Fowler, who spent 28 days in a coma at Baptist Hospital of Miami following the surgery.
Florida health officials did not immediately respond to the Herald’s questions regarding Omulepu’s case on Monday. Omulepu does not carry medical malpractice insurance, according to his licensure profile with the state health department.
Rodriguez said the appeals process could take as long as a year, but that the state medical board could choose to reconsider its action and impose a different penalty on Omulepu.