Scientology Doctor Faces Suspension
Jul 25, 2001
By JOE FOLLICK firstname.lastname@example.org
TALLAHASSEE - Nearly six years after the death of a Church of Scientology
member, a doctor involved in the case faces a one- year license suspension
and $10,000 fine.
Administrative Judge William F. Quattlebaum ruled in May that although
Clearwater physician David Minkoff was not responsible for the death of
Lisa McPherson, he illegally prescribed Valium and chloral hydrate to her
at the behest of other church members. Minkoff was also a member of the
"The risk ... from the practice of prescribing medication without personal
knowledge of the patient is great," Quattlebaum wrote, suggesting Minkoff
pay a $10,000 fine and be suspended from practicing for one year.
The Florida Board of Medicine is scheduled to meet in Tallahassee on Aug.
3 to consider the recommended punishment. Board spokesman Bill Parizek
said Tuesday that the board's final decision is usually similar to a
Minkoff's Tampa attorney, Bruce Lamb, said he could not comment until he
had spoken with his client.
McPherson died in December 1995 after church members brought her to
Columbia New Port Richey Hospital, where Minkoff worked.
McPherson was alleged to have been confined by the church and denied
adequate medical treatment. Criminal charges against the church were
dropped last year after the autopsy reports were revised to reflect that
the cause of death was "accidental."
Prior to the dismissal of charges, Pasco-Pinellas Medical Examiner Joan
Wood said McPherson may not have had anything to drink for up to 17 days
prior to her death. Wood also said McPherson was bruised with cracked
skin, had cockroach bites on her body and was comatose for up to two days
prior to being taken to the hospital.
Although admitting no guilt, Minkoff reached a $100,000 settlement in 1997
in a wrongful death lawsuit filed by McPherson's estate.
Joe Follick covers state government and can be reached at (850) 222-8382.
From Scientology's own filings in the case:
When a Scientology staffer used a syringe to force
a mixture of aspirin, Benadryl and orange juice
into McPherson's throat while others held her down,
it was "spiritual sustenance," the church argues.