State panel to review whether to revoke Dr. Grekos' license

Scott McIntyre/Staff 
 Dr. Zannos Grekos, center, chats with his former patient, George Czinkota, during a break at the Collier County Courthouse on Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. "He saved my life," Czinkota said. The Bonita Springs doctor's license is currently suspended after two of his patients have died while using procedures the state says he shouldn't have performed. Several of Grekos' former patients came to the hearing to show support for the doctor.

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Scott McIntyre/Staff Dr. Zannos Grekos, center, chats with his former patient, George Czinkota, during a break at the Collier County Courthouse on Tuesday Oct. 16, 2012. "He saved my life," Czinkota said. The Bonita Springs doctor's license is currently suspended after two of his patients have died while using procedures the state says he shouldn't have performed. Several of Grekos' former patients came to the hearing to show support for the doctor.

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The Florida Board of Medicine will consider revoking Dr. Zannos Grekos’ license later this week and the Bonita Springs doctor will lodge a fight, according to a recent case document.

Grekos’ attorney has filed a 14-page response to an administrative law judge’s recommendation that Grekos, a cardiologist, lose his license and be fined $20,000.

The medical board meets Friday and Saturday in Deerfield Beach.

A spokeswoman for the state Department of Health said Grekos must be present for the board to consider 15 objections to the judge’s findings from his attorney, Richard Ozelie, of Boca Raton.

Ozelie declined to comment about the upcoming board meeting. He is asking the board to reduce the penalty but did not suggest how it should be reduced.

At issue is the doctor’s treatment in 2010 of 69-year-old Domenica Fitzgerald with a stem cell treatment and the judge’s conclusion that Grekos committed medical malpractice.

The patient suffered a stroke after the treatment and later was taken off life support. She died April 4, 2010.

The victim’s husband, John Fitzgerald, said he will be attending the medical board’s meeting.

“I want to be there to hear what they say,” he said. “I’m hoping it goes the right way. I’m optimistic.”

She went to him in hopes his stem cell treatment could address numbness and tingling in her legs that was a side effect from chemotherapy for breast cancer.

Grekos had developed a following among patients with heart or lung conditions for which conventional medicine was no longer effective. He extracted a sample of their blood, sent to a laboratory in Israel for cultivating the stem cells, and had the stem-cell rich blood sent to the Dominican Republic.

The patient would travel to a medical center in the Dominican Republic where the stem cells would be infused in the patient to rejuvenate damaged tissue.

Attorneys for the state Department of Health argued during a four-day hearing in Naples last fall that Grekos instead treated her in his Bonita Springs practice. He extracted bone marrow from her and infused it, unconcentrated and unfiltered, into her circulatory system.

Administrative law judge J. Lawrence Johnston said Grekos should have known the grave risk of the procedure.

In objecting to the judge’s recommended order, Grekos attorney said the medical board has the authority to modify or reject the judge’s recommended order because it was not supported by evidence in the case.

Specifically, the judge failed to point out that one of the consent forms that the patient signed did not exclude the use of bone marrow aspirate in the treatment.

Similarly, the judge did not acknowledge how two of Grekos staff members had testified about assisting Grekos in infusing bone marrow aspirate into the carotid arteries of 54 patients without adverse consequences, according to Grekos attorney.

He also is objecting to the judge’s conclusion that it was inevitable the procedure would clog blood vessels in the patient’s brain and cause a stroke.

One witness refuted that it is dangerous to infuse bone marrow aspirate into a patient’s circulatory system; another witness testified it wasn’t possible to determine if the aspirate contained bone fragments, according to Grekos attorney.

The medical board’s final order does not mean an end to the case. Grekos can appeal the decision to the District Court of Appeal, according to the state.

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