Florida retracts cease and desist order and fine against Brian Clement

Florida retracts cease and desist order and fine against Brian Clement

In February, the State of Florida issued an order telling Brian Clement to cease and desist from the unlicensed practice of medicine. It ordered him to pay a fine as well. In March, the State said "never mind!" In an e-mail to the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation, the Department of Health said:

"After further review of the investigative materials, it was determined that there is insufficient evidence to pursue further legal action in this matter."

It's hard to imagine what the Department might consider sufficient evidence, considering the sorry legacy of Mr. Clement and his visits to Canada, where he lured the families of two Canadian girls suffering from cancer to his West Palm Beach clinic, the Hippocrates Health Institute. Both families withdrew the girls from chemotherapy and conventional medical treatment in favor of traditional aboriginal medicine and the quackery offered at Hippocrates. One of the girls later died. The other, according to the CBC, remains on a Clement-prescribed raw foods diet

Clement's been caught fudging on his credentials as well, variously referring to himself as "Dr. Clement" and as a naturopathic doctor. And there are reports of earlier international travels during which he convinced cancer patients to come to Hippocrates for treatment. Those didn't end well either. 

The CBC and other Canadian media did all of the investigative work for the Department of Health: interviewing the families and capturing Clement's claims that his methods could "cure" and "reverse" cancer on video, as well as uncovering the fact that Clement's "degrees" are from diploma mills. The CBC reported that a former employee, an RN, has filed suit against Hippocrates. The RN alleges he was fired when he refused to carry out an order issued by Clement which, by law, must be issued by a medical doctor.  

Hippocrates and Clement have been operating right under the State's nose for years at the Institute's luxurious Palm Beach County campus. It was only when the Canadian media got involved that the State perked up and took notice in the first place. Even then, it took a complaint I filed with the Department of Health, referencing the Canadian media reports, to get their attention. After two phone calls to the attorney who handled the case for the Department, I haven't been able to get any further information. She hasn't returned my calls. I learned of the Department's reversing its decision only by reading a CBC news report.

Still pending before the Department is a complaint filed (not by me) against Clement with the Dietetics & Nutrition Practices Council, which operates under the auspices of the state Board of Medicine. (Clement is licensed as a Nutritionist by the State.) The allegations of the Complaint are not made public unless a Probable Cause Panel of the medical board determines there is enough evidence to proceed. This does not give me a good feeling, considering. 

An complaint against the Hippocrates Health Institute (also filed by me) for operating a health care clinic without the proper license failed as well. (Hippocrates is licensed by the State as a massage establishment.) The state's Agency for Health Care Administration informed me that it had no jurisdiction over Hippocrates because it is a cash-only operation. Only health clinics accepting third-party reimbursement must be licensed. 

There is a bill before the Florida Legislature to close this gap in the heath clinic licensing law. It would make all health clinics, including those accepting only cash, obtain a license. This, in turn, would make the clinics subject to certain licensing requirements, including state inspection and specific responsibilities for its medical director. According to Sen. Eleanor Sobel, one of the bill's sponsors,

flimflam artists and snake-oil salesmen have escaped state scrutiny by running clinics that accept only cash.

Unfortunately, as I read the bill, it doesn't close the gap altogether. Non-profit clinics would be exempt under the amended law. Hippocrates is a non-profit. A wealthy one. According to Guidestar, Hippocrates took in about $17.5 million in 2013. Combined compensation for Brian Clement and his wife, Anna Marie Gahns, was almost $1 million. 

So, for now, Hippocrates will continue to scam consumers with its quack treatments, Brian Clement can continue his international promotional tours offering to "reverse" cancer, and the State of Florida won't do a thing about it. Or, borrowing the words of Sen. Sobel, flimflam artists and snake-oil salesmen will continue to escape state scrutiny by running cash-only clinics as non-profits in Florida. 

Points of Interest 03/31/2015
Acupuncture for Acute Rhinitis.

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