In this episode, we share the story of a dermatologist who danced her way into a serious medical board investigation. Tune in for an exclusive look at this national story. We discuss legal considerations for patient privacy, provider scope of practice, and reputation management.
Listen to the full episode using the player below, or by visiting one of the links below. Below is the episode’s transcript which has been edited for readability. If you have any questions or would like to learn more, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
Intro: [00:00:00] Welcome to Legal 123’s with ByrdAdatto. Legal issues, simplified through real client stories and real world experiences. Creating simplicity in 3, 2, 1.
Brad: Welcome back to another episode of Legal 123’s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host, Brad Adatto. I’m here with my co-host Michael Byrd.
Michael: Thanks Brad. As a business and health care law firm, we meet a lot of interesting people and learn their amazing stories. As you know, Brad, this season, we’re spicing things up a bit.
Michael: We are here to talk about OPP: Other people’s problems.
Brad: Well, and for those listening for the first time this season, Michael, tell them what we’re doing with OPP.
Michael: We’re gonna tell public stories in the news, and then talk about some legal lessons that can be learned from these fascinating stories, and Brad, what I like about that is that we don’t have to be as restrictive, cause it’s not attorney client privileged information.
Brad: This is true. It is in the public. Now before [00:01:00] we get to today’s OPP story, I wanna ask you, what does the cabbage patch, the robo cop, the running man and the Roger rabbit have in common?
Michael: Well, Brad, we’re roughly the same age so I do know that those are some sweet dance moves.
Brad: That’s right. There’s some dance moves that every kid from the eighties tried to master or break themselves, trying to master. Of course, that goes along with the moonwalk, the worm, and everyone’s favorite the sprinkler. What was your go-to dance move from the eighties, Michael?
Michael: Hmm. I’m gonna have to go with the bus driver.
Brad: That’s another good one, audience members. Only an old man, like Michael would know that and of course I laugh because I know about it too.
Brad: Okay. Since most of these moves have to do with dancing kind of by yourself or kind of as a group. Did you ever learn, Michael, how to swing dance or two step.
Michael: Brad. I hate to confess this, but dancing is not like [00:02:00] typing.
Brad: Oh, so you did not go to state dancing.
Michael: I have very nimble hands and two left feet. I cannot dance.
Brad: All right. Fair enough. Well, as you know, I went to TCU, go frogs, where for those who don’t know, that’s where the west begins and a good friend of mine from Midland, Texas, Shelly Browder, taught me how to two step and of course the rest is history. I’m not bragging since you have two left feet, but I think of the two of us, everyone here in the podcast knows that I’m better at two stepping than you.
Michael: Okay, Tex, I’m sure you’ve got some trophies at home from your national two-stepping awards there, right?
Brad: That’s right. I’m glad you noticed. I have ’em hanging in my office. If I found a wedding or a bar or a party, you would always find me out on the dance floor, obviously showing off my amazing national skills. Unless you’re really at a dance studio or you’re a backup dancer for JLo, it’s really normally kind of frowned upon to just start kind of throwing out some [00:03:00] dance move while you’re in the middle of the office?
Michael: Yeah, I wish it would slow you down now that you recognize that because we could use a little less Brad dance at the office, but, I agree that it’s not a good idea, Brad, and so let’s stop.
Brad: All right. Well, I was gonna show off some dance move, but obviously with our audio portion of the show, I didn’t wanna deprive our listeners of seeing me really cut that rug. A few years ago, I read this national story. It was actually all over the national story about today’s OPP and this person really liked dancing so much that she cut it into her day-to-day medical practice.
Michael: Can I use the red flag, ding button for a Brad joke that I see just blaring at me with the cut reference, knowing we’re gonna talking about doctors.
Michael: Okay, Brad, Fine. Who’s the lead character for today’s OPP story?
Brad: Yeah. Audience members, we’re actually not going to use this person’s name, [00:04:00] but she’s famously known as the dancing doctor.
Michael: Brad, we’re not gonna start calling you the dancing lawyer, so don’t go there. If you Google the dancing doctor, the number one article that pops up has the headline “dancing doctor agrees to 2.5 year suspension of medical license.” Audience members, you’re welcome to Google any story that we bring up this year for more context but I’ll add that this doctor here is a licensed dermatologist who also performs surgeries like tummy tucks and Brazilian butt lifts and for those who are not familiar, these types of surgeries are outside the course of normal training for the specialty of dermatology.
Brad: Yeah, so let’s take a big step back to introduce the dancing doctor. Michael, I think you may have, but have you ever heard of [00:05:00] YouTube?
Michael: Man. That is a big step back. I hope you don’t accidentally trip and fall there. Yes, Brad, I have heard of YouTube. Actually, Brad, did you know that our show that we’re doing right now is actually published on our YouTube channel? Yes, we have a YouTube channel. Oh, so why are you asking me old man?
Brad: Alright. Well, since you are familiar with it and yes, we do have our show that’s being live or being delivered right now on the YouTube channel. YouTube has over 300,000 videos or 80 hours of video uploaded every day.
Michael: 80,000 hours of video uploaded every day?
Brad: Every day.
Michael: Oh wow.
Brad: As the name suggests this dancing doctor loved uploading videos on YouTube with her dancing.
Michael: What’s wrong with that?
Brad: She did it while working.
Michael: Okay, well, don’t want to tempt you to do it, but again, what’s wrong with that.
Brad: Okay, maybe I’ll give more context. [00:06:00] In one video, she is dancing with her staff rapping and all of them are following some pre-planned dance moves.
Michael: Well, so a little synchronized dancing, maybe not the most efficient use of a work day, but still not sure where you’re going with that being a problem.
Brad: Maybe I’ll give a little more context in that. Did I mention that she was dancing with her OR staff while a patient was under sedation with a scalpel in her hand while performing a tummy tuck. Sometimes the video showed her cutting to the rhythm of music to a song called “Cut it”. As the song begins, her fingers roll off the patient’s skin and then she moves them to the beat. Then she begins to slice the air with her scalpel, just inches from the patient’s back then the video reportedly shows a doctor making incisions while her scalpel is going to the rhythm of the music. However, she pauses to wave the scalpel at the camera while the music continues to play.
Michael: Oh, man. I wish I would’ve reserved my ding [00:07:00] comment for what you just said. I think I had about 10 ding buttons going back to the red flag season, but we’re not having that season even though there’s a ton of red flag moments. By the way, the visual that you just created of what that must have been like is something I can’t unsee in my brain now.
Brad: Right, and so hence, she became known as the dancing doctor, which I guess again, to your point, it would be great if she was doing this with her staff in the ballroom or in a dance off contest, but this was in an OR room, which as you can imagine, may have led to some other issues for it to be on this season.
Michael: Well, we know this does not end well. Let’s get into her story.
Brad: Alright. In all, the dancing doctor reportedly appears in a little over 20 YouTube videos, all of which actually have been taken down.
Michael: Again, not the best use of the OR room or [00:08:00] the OR staff, but why are we discussing it on other people’s problems?
Brad: Well, the dancing doctor, as you mentioned already, was a dermatologist and started having some patient complaints.
Michael: What do you mean by some? How many?
Brad: Well, enough to point where several patients went on national news to show off their scars and discuss the pain they were enduring based on these medical procedures, some of which were also suing her for malpractice. These patients who have sued the dancing doctor claim her practice left them either disfigured and unfortunately in one case suffered a permit brain damage after her heart stopped following a seven hour surgery.
Michael: Oh man, this sounds like there’s some bigger problems than even the dancing.
Brad: Yeah and even on the sidebar, some of these former patients also said their privacy was invaded when the dancing doctor posted these photos or videos of their exposed body on the social media sites, and [00:09:00] they’re saying it was put on YouTube or other sites while she was singing and operating.
Michael: Well, it kind of feels like we flew close to the sun on the dancing doctor, cause we at our firm actually had a close encounter with the dancing doctor.
Brad: Right? So audience members, we’re not giving any attorney client privilege here. We are sticking with the public knowledge. Number one, I did not win a two-stepping competition with the dancing doctor. I know that’s probably right where they went. Number two though, before she actually made national news, we actually had a physician hire us, to review a contract and actually did join the dancing doctor’s practice.
Michael: Yeah and again, some of this isn’t stuff you could find in the newspaper, but I will keep it super confidential, as we do. At the time we didn’t even know that this [00:10:00] doctor had an alias as the dancing doctor.
Michael: We had a plastic surgeon. She called and said, Hey, I just have a contract review. She got engaged. I helped her. She was gonna go join. What we now know was the dancing doctor, neither of us knew this at the time, but I can tell that that my client, she must have sensed something was up. Her big approach was, I wanna make this move to get into this city and I’m gonna be super aggressive in my negotiations to the point that it even made me uncomfortable. I was having conversations with my client saying you’re asking for the moon here and I just want you to be eyes wide open that 9 times out of 10 or 99 times out of 100, you’re gonna get just [00:11:00] a walk. They’re gonna walk away cause you’re being so unreasonable and she wanted to persist our client and so we did and the person now known as the dancing doctor accepted everything. So, we went forward and our clients signed the contract.
Brad: Incredible contract, It sounds like.
Michael: Yeah. I mean, probably to date, if you count that as a win on what you can negotiate. Probably the most successful contract I’ve ever negotiated.
Brad: Good job, buddy.
Michael: Yeah, until she called me four days into starting.
Michael: And said that she needed to get outta there and she worked for four days for the dancing doctor and realized some of what you saw. And of course, you know, six months later, the news broke and the dancing doctor was the famous [00:12:00] dancing doctor who had a lot of injured patients. It wasn’t funny. It was actually obviously, there were a lot of people that got hurt from this and it’s beyond even just the shenanigans to get followers on YouTube.
Brad: Yeah. So audience members, as Michael was kind of making sure I hope he caught that as it didn’t take long for a plastic surgeon, our client to see the problem that was happening at this dermatology practice. And while as you can imagine, the medical board also started to take notice of this dancing doctor and eventually found that her continued practice with the medicine possesses a threat to public health. Never a good sign, audience, safety and welfare, and required an emergency action in which they then suspended her medical license.
Michael: Yeah. That’s not a good piece of information to get if you’re a doctor. [00:13:00]
Michael: That your license is suspended.
Brad: And that audience members, after 27 years of practicing, thank you for that detailed analysis. And that Michael.
Michael: Yes, no, yeah, it’s frowned upon as they would say.
Brad: Well, so the board order, actually was interesting about this, cause as we started this, we started to talk about all these other complaints, but the board order actually cited one case where a women went in to see the dancing doctor for liposuction, breast augmentation, and a Brazilian butt lift. The patient went for a postoperative visit, but the dancing doctor actually didn’t even see or evaluate the patient. The patient unfortunately had to be ho hospitalized with a collapsed lung and suffered anemia because of the acute blood loss. Again, not a good sign. The order from the medical board offers no details about what went wrong, but says the consultant, concluded that the diagnosis treatment and record keeping didn’t even meet the minimum standard. She [00:14:00] failed to conform to the minimum standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice and the board noted a pattern of conduct and cited unsatisfactory treatment of six other patients.
Michael: Yeah. You know what jumps off to me, Brad, from this is just that you have a dermatologist doing some pretty controversial things that dermatologists don’t normally do. A Brazilian Butt Lift is even controversial among plastic surgeons. Not all of them will do these and they’re the one who have the training to kind of make that call. So you follow the dancing and down to the kind of new stories of patients getting hurt and it’s not shocking to see these conclusions.
Brad: Yeah, and so like all good news outlets they actually found a lawyer who was suing the dancing doctor.[00:15:00] This particular lawyer is representing four of the dancing doctor’s patients and after the dancing doctor made national news, The lawyer received over a hundred calls from other patients who said that they were suffering from similar problems from the dancing doctor surgeries and audience members if you actually see the video and see some of the scars in these women, it’s pretty grotesque. So not saying you have to watch it, just understanding why there were so many probably complaints and in these lawsuits filed against a dancing doctor. They accuse the dancing doctor of using unqualified staff, misleading patients and subjecting them to an office that is not safe for these types of surgeries performed, as she actually operated on all her medical procedures in her medical office.
Michael: Wow! We’ve come full circle from the headline of the 2.5 year [00:16:00] suspension. All those lines have been filled in with that story. It’s pretty shocking and my mind is spinning a little bit. Lets, Brad, go into commercial and on the other side, start breaking this down from a legal perspective and why we do not recommend dancing in the OR.
Access +: Many business owners use legal counsel as a last resort, rather than as a proactive tool that can further their success. Why? For most it’s the fear of unknown legal costs. ByrdAdatto access plus program makes it possible for you to get the ongoing legal assistance you need for one predictable monthly fee. That gives you unlimited phone and email access to the legal team so you can receive feedback on legal concerns as they arise. Access+ a smarter, simpler way to access legal services. Find out more. Visit Byrdadatto.com today.
Brad: Welcome back to Legal 123s with ByrdAdatto. I’m your host Brad Adatto with my co-host Michael Byrd. Now, Michael this season our theme [00:17:00] is OPP.
Michael: Yes, Brad, other than I guess realizing that the dancing doctor is better at dancing than performing surgery, what are some of your takeaways from kind of a legal perspective?
Brad: Yeah and you started kind of hinting to some of them in the opening and when we’re kind of going through the story, but for our listeners who didn’t catch on to some of those pieces, at least from my perspective, I caught two major issues that our listeners should really think about and I can break it down the two: the scope of practice of a dermatologist, and then second, the standard of care. So let’s talk about the scope of practice. So, we’ve actually had other dermatologists, Dr. Paul Frank has been on our episode. Dermatologists play a great part in skincare. They typically will treat common acne, sunburn and skin cancer. They diagnose obviously those tumors, inflation of the skin or other types of infections and diseases of the [00:18:00] skin and sometimes they do perform some types of surgeries, normally skin biopsies or a certain, dermatological surgeries.
Michael: That’s a mouthful.
Brad: Many of these are basically some type of noninvasive surgical procedure, so it’s not very invasive as your typical surgery. However, a licensed provider, they can provide any kind of medical service. The dancing doctor is licensed, but a lot of these dermatologists, if they do something, they’re probably not doing a tummy tuck or a breast aug or even a Brazilian butt lift and that’s just not to say that she couldn’t get training. It just is to say that in their formal training when they’re becoming a specialist in dermatology, that’s not something that a dermatologist would’ve gone through, to understand how to perform those types of medical services so that’s the first point. I know you probably have some counter, but let me [00:19:00] get the second piece of this cause it kind of feeds into the first point, which is, and that brings us to that second point is even if the doctor does have these skills that they’ve learned and that’s great and they’re providing them, they have to still provide them within the standard of care for that medical service. So a lot of people are like what does standard of care mean? Standard of care means the degree of care and skill and average health care provider with similar background in training under comparable circumstances would do. Of course there are times where there are complications that every single doctor could not anticipate or prevent. Even the most skilled practitioner, especially physicians, if they’re acting, and they’re acting within which customary care, that’s not what we’re talking about. We’re talking about something that falls outside this. So going back to a doctor would need to have some type of professional understanding of what’s going on, understanding the risk of that particular procedure, especially with surgery and having the wherewithal to assist with [00:20:00] any of those complications, which could be your staffing and making sure that if a patient does go into cardiac arrest or have some type of paralysis, they have the people on staff to help with this and clearly, especially with these types of surgeries, even if they are considered day surgeries or 23 hour surgeries performed inside their medical office, they need to take ’em serious. A long time ago, you and I were in a panel with another lawyer and he noted that his concern with these physicians using social media in the operating room, he wondered out loud with, and again, there are other doctors in the room, was the doctor more interested in the camera, in this case, the dance moves and the spotlight versus the outcome of the surgery now? There were other physicians that disagreed with this, but again, he’s just saying, is that a lawyer talking about the risks associated, how would someone else view that? As a reminder, this dancing doctor, at least from the medical board’s perspective was not doing that [00:21:00] because on her good day, she had to give up her license for two and a half years. She didn’t even contest it, which demonstrated that most likely she was acting outside of the standard of care and that finally brings us to the last piece I wanted to bring in. Michael, there are other providers in that room that could have been the anesthesiologist, that could be a nurse practitioner or a surgical tech and if you’re in a room where a physician is consistently acting outside the standard of care, you have to be careful because you could also be pulled into a lawsuit or in front of your board so it’s best not to participate.
Michael: Yeah and I would add there, Brad, that thinking about the fact that she got the dancing doctor got sued a bunch for malpractice, the standard of care is central in a malpractice lawsuit.
Michael: Did you perform the standard of care? Well, the dancing doctor had a lot of issues, right? Yeah. I mean, she was doing surgeries [00:22:00] that were not part of her formal training. We don’t know what her informal training is, but even in a standard of care, argument is a tougher road to establish that you have that appropriate training when you have bad outcomes.
Michael: Then you factor in just optically that she’s got these YouTube videos doing these dances and is that something you normally see in an operating room scenario and the answer is no. Although, it’s more and more common with Snapchat and TikTok than it used to be, but it would still be something where if something goes wrong they’re looking to see, did you stay within the standard of care? They’re playing in front of a jury, this video of the doctor doing a dance routine. It’s not gonna look. Yeah. Then of course, if there’s actually smoke, there’s fire behind that smoke and the fact that she didn’t have the training is [00:23:00] a really bad combination.
Michael: I would even take that, Brad, and go back to our side story, which is we had a doctor that was our client that went to join this practice and what should people do when they’re looking to go join a practice to protect themselves from affiliating with someone that it would not be beneficial to affiliate with. You could reverse that too. If a practice is recruiting a doctor that is the emerging dancing doctor, how do they protect themselves from bringing that element and risk into their practice. What’s interesting is that I can look back and know that, our client, that she sensed something was up without knowing any of this but she just knew something was [00:24:00] off from the interview process. I don’t know what it was but there’s something there. I would say that there is beyond the contract, we talk about this, aligning expectations when we give lectures and, there is a clinical due diligence element to working together with somebody and that’s looking at, does the way you practice or want to practice line up with who you’ll be side by side with? Understanding, from a reputation perspective if you are a physician with another physician that person’s reputation on the internet, the reputation in general is gonna have some passover onto you just by virtue of being together. I mean, I personally experienced this by being your partner [00:25:00] and I’ve gotten over it. I mean, I’ve learned to adapt and know I’m eyes wide open.
Brad: Yes,audience members, as he says this, he’s trying to hug me so I don’t know. I don’t understand what’s going on here.
Michael: I know it’s dysfunctional.
Brad: I think the part that I think an audience should take away at least on a high level as far as this person may be, the dancing doctor may be the nicest person on the earth, we’ve never met her, and could just be a great dermatologist in general. It was the fact that she added two elements to her practice. Again, we know of dermatology practices that do have surgical practices, a part of it so it’s nothing against dermatologists having surgeons as a part of it. The point being is she was doing two things that seemed to be the outliers, which was videotaping themselves in a surgical room while a patient was under whether or not she was actually performing the surgery or while they were recovering either way and then the board on top of that felt [00:26:00] like even if she wasn’t operating while dancing it seemed to be all falling outside the standard of care. I think that’s the big piece I keep going back to on this one, among the other things you just brought back up
Michael: We didn’t even get into kind of a little nugget you referenced, which is that that patients were saying they didn’t even know they were being videoed while they’re operating, which has all sorts of patient privacy implications and risks from a liability perspective.
Brad: Absolutely. Any final thoughts?
Michael: Well, Brad, since I kind of made fun of you at the end, I feel like we need to do some two stepping to kind of bring it all together.
Brad: Some dosey doe.
Brad: All right. Well, audience members, hopefully you guys, will understand that, the next time you see Michael and I, when we’re dancing, you’ll know that I’m better than him, but more importantly, we will continue through this season with OPP. Our next story is actually about a nurse practitioner from California who [00:27:00] also unfortunately, had a public incident.
Outro: Thanks again for joining us today and remember if you liked this episode, please subscribe. Make sure to give us a five star rating and share with your friends. You can also sign up for the ByrdAdatto newsletter by going to our website at Byrdadatto.com. ByrdAdatto is providing this podcast as a public service. This podcast is for educational purposes only. This podcast does not constitute legal advice, nor does it establish an attorney, client relationship. Reference to any specific product or entity does not constitute an endorsement or recommendation by ByrdAdatto. The views expressed by guests are their own and their appearance on the program does not imply an endorsement of them or any entity they represent. Please consult with an attorney on your legal issues.