The hidden issues of the “dancing doctor”

Over the last month, a dermatologist practicing in Georgia known as the “dancing doctor” was suspended by the Georgia Medical Board, which said she posed a “threat to public health, safety, and welfare.” At least ten patients have sued this physician with complications including disfigurement and brain damage, and reportedly there are another 100 former patients who may pursue litigation as well.

According to her social media account, this physician was performing cosmetic surgery procedures including abdominoplasty, fat grafting to the buttocks, and others that were far beyond her scope of training and in general have no reason to be performed outside the plastic surgery specialty. In one instance, a patient suffered brain damage after an 8-hour abdominoplasty. The longest abdominoplasty procedure I have performed in my career lasted approximately 3 hours and 15 minutes. In addition, while I am only able to judge via public content, the “dancing doctor” seems to have been performing surgery incorrectly and in more than one instance created superfluous, arguably incorrect, surgical incisions. Dancing in the operating room during surgery is highly disrespectful, but it is equally alarming that a physician without the necessary training was able to perform these aesthetic surgery procedures legally at all.

How did this happen?

The chair of the Georgia Medical Board told WSB-TV in Atlanta that “… when you are licensed to practice medicine in Georgia, you’re licensed to practice medicine and surgery. It says so right on your license.” The same is true in the state of New York where I practice. Unfortunately, this latitude is probably overly generous and led to the “dancing doctor” situation at hand: a practitioner in a non-surgical specialty, one not eligible for admission to the American College of Surgeons, was legally able to perform significant, multi-hour surgery.

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