The attorney for Dr. Zannos Grekos is asking an appeal court to intervene in the state's case against the Bonita Springs cardiologist and reinstate his medical license to good standing.
The First District Court of Appeal in Tallahassee has given the Florida Department of Health until May 7 to show why the doctor's petition for a review of his case should not be granted, according to an April 18 court order.
Besides asking the court to step in and set aside the Florida Department of Health's suspension of the doctor's license, Grekos attorney said Monday the state has dropped some false allegations.
An administrative law judge has OK'd the state amending its complaint and will reschedule from June to this fall a hearing on his license suspension.
"We are pleased with the recent rulings by the administrative court judge and we are confident that ultimately Dr. Grekos will have his medical license reinstated to practice medicine in the state of Florida," Richard Ozelie, his Boca Raton attorney, said in a statement. "The DOH has been extremely loose with their allegations of so called 'facts' and we are fighting to regain the trust within the community which the DOH and the Medical Examiner's Office have tried to take from Dr. Grekos."
The health department issued an emergency restriction of Grekos license in February 2011. He had performed a stem cell procedure on a 69-year-old woman in his practice in March, 2010. She fell at her home a few hours afterward, was hospitalized with brain injuries and later died. The license restriction said he could not do any treatments involving stem cells or bone marrow aspirate.
This past March, the state took harsher action and suspended the doctor's license after he was accused of violating the earlier restriction. He had initiated and directed a stem cell procedure on a 77-year-old man who suffered a cardiac arrest in his practice and later died at a local hospital, the state alleges.
In both cases, the state says Grekos was using the patients own stem cells and performed the injections in his outpatient practice on Bonita Beach Road rather than sending them to the Dominican Republic where he historically sends patients for the treatment. Grekos has a loyal following in Southwest Florida among patients with congestive heart failure and other chronic conditions who say he saved their lives.
Health department officials declined to comment about Ozelie's statement directly but said it takes the enforcement process very seriously.
"If the state surgeon general finds that the subject of a complaint poses an immediate, serious threat to the health, safety or welfare of the public, (the state) may issue an emergency order," DOH spokeswoman Jessica Hammond said. "We will continue to work with our division of medical quality assurance and legal counsel to ensure that each one of the cases that comes before us is reviewed properly and ensure that the welfare of Floridians comes first."
The state's initial action against Grekos regarding the first patient said the procedure he performed is not approved by the Food and Drug Administration, but that part of the complaint has been dropped .
In the amended complaint, the state is focusing on Grekos' failure to send her to a hospital for post-operative care after she was discharged groggy, due to sedation, from his practice and unable to walk.
The state said he abandoned her post-operative care to two technicians who are not licensed in the state and did not respond to calls after she was hospitalized.
In addition, the state's amended complaint said his medical records failed to justify the treatment and that the stem cell treatment he does has no "substantial medical and scientific value" for the patient's symptoms. The patient had come to him because of nerve damage, resulting in symptoms of weakness and numbness in her extremeties due to earlier chemotherapy for breast cancer.
The state's amended complaint also said Grekos exploited her for financial gain and did not sufficiently educate her about the risks of injecting her own unconcentrated stem cells into her cerebral circulatory system.
Although reference to the FDA was dropped because the federal agency does not regulate stem cell uses, the state continues to call what Grekos does as unorthodox and "entirely experimental and certainly not an accepted or proven treatment in the state of Florida."
The state still wants his license revoked, restricted, or that he face fines or other discipline.
The amended complaint and the hearing delay does not impact the state's second complaint action against Grekos and another doctor for their treatment of the patient who died this past March.