South Florida is one of the top spots for plastic surgery in the country.
Women learn about doctors through their slick online advertisements and websites. But the NBC 6 Investigators found sometimes looks can be deceiving when it comes to a doctor’s online credentials.
Experts say a doctor’s credentials and training matters because it’s that education that helps keep patients safe.
Florida has state rules that prohibit doctors from advertising anything that’s “false, deceptive, or misleading.”
But what the NBC 6 Investigators discovered caused some local doctors to change their online appearance just hours after hearing from NBC 6.
The NBC 6 Investigators have reported on the plastic surgery complications involving Heather Meadows, Shabriya Hill and Crystal Call. One died and two others were hospitalized for days. All three women went to a doctor who, at the time of their procedures, was described as a “board certified MD” online.
But Dr. James McAdoo is not an MD, he’s a DO, an osteophathic physician that is still a doctor but with different training from different certifying boards.
“For people like me, when I see board certified, I say ‘Okay, he’s board certified,’ I didn’t know there are different boards,” said Call who was hospitalized after undergoing a Brazilian Butt Lift procedure.
The NBC 6 Investigators found the “MD” title next to Dr. McAdoo’s name on three different websites dating back to 2015.
Dr. McAdoo’s attorney told NBC 6 Investigators it was not the doctor’s error because he doesn’t maintain or manage the websites.
He also said, in an email, the doctor is board certified by the American Osteopathic Board of Surgery.
“Do your homework and when I say do your homework, go through the boards, make sure you know exactly what you’re looking for,” said Call.
The NBC 6 Investigators randomly searched through the online profiles of more than a hundred doctors who do plastic surgery in South Florida and took the findings to Dr. Steven Rosenberg who sits on the Florida Board of Medicine.
“It may be an honest mistake but the patients are being misled and that’s a concern,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
Dr. Anthony Hasan performs cosmetic surgery in South Florida. His company’s website described him as “board certified in dermatology.”
However, the American Board of Dermatology told the NBC 6 Investigators they have no current record of him.
Dr. Hasan’s attorney said it was a “mistake” and that he is not currently certified due to an issue with his medical license. He said the doctor plans on reapplying for certification soon and deleted the certification from the website.
An online profile for Dr. Decio Carvalho, a Brazilian trained local doctor who performs cosmetic procedures, showed he’s a “licensed and board certified cosmetic surgeon.”
At least it stated that until an hour after the NBC 6 Investigators contacted him because he couldn’t be found as having been certified by any state-recognized board.
The company deleted his profile from the website. Dr. Carvalho has not responded to NBC6’s repeated calls, emails and a visit to his office over the past two weeks.
“If you’re board certified you must say what you’re board certified in,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
State Requires “Disclaimer”
Dr. Rosenberg said in medicine, it's important to be accurate in titles and credentials.
State rules require doctors to include a disclaimer on any advertising that lists board certification from a board that’s not recognized in Florida. The disclaimer reads: “The specialty recognition identified herein has been received from a private organization not affiliated with or recognized by the Florida Board of Medicine.”
“If they run an ad with that kind of certification they need to put a disclaimer in there that this is not a recognized board,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
Another doctor, Dr. Patrick Abuzeni in Miami, was listed on a company website that described him as certified by the American Board of Cosmetic Surgery.
However, it’s not an approved board recognized by the State of Florida. Dr. Abuzeni’s profile did not include a disclaimer.
The doctor did not return NBC 6 Investigators repeated calls and emails, but the clinic where he works took down his biography a few hours after NBC 6 reached out. However, there’s still no disclaimer on the doctor’s personal website.
Researching your Doctor
Dr. Rosenberg said he believes the advertising can confuse patients.
“Of course, we encourage people to go the Florida Board of Medicine’s website, it’s very user friendly and it’s easy to look up a physician’s license,” said Dr. Rosenberg.
However, the NBC 6 Investigators discovered an issue with that website information as well. The information is self-reported by the doctors themselves.
For example, the website lists Dr. Hasan as board certified in Dermatology, which he’s not currently.
The Board does investigate issues with advertising, but a complaint has to be filed with the state first. Discipline can range from a warning to action being taken against a doctor’s license. The NBC6 Investigators found a case of a doctor getting disciplined for misidentifying himself as being board certified back in 2007. He received a $9,500 fine.
Experts say you should go to a doctor that’s certified by a state recognized board like the American Board of Plastic Surgery.
Here’s a complete list of boards recognized by the Florida Board of Medicine.
- American Board of Facial Plastic & Reconstructive Surgery - American Board of Pain Medicine - American Association of Physician Specialists - American Board of Physician Specialists - American Board of Interventional Pain Physicians - American Board of Vascular Medicine - American Board of Allergy and Immunology - American Board of Anesthesiology - American Board of Colon and Rectal Surgery - American Board of Dermatology - American Board of Emergency Medicine - American Board of Family Medicine - American Board of Internal Medicine - American Board of Medical Genetics and Genomics - American Board of Neurological Surgery - American Board of Nuclear Medicine - American Board of Obstetrics and Gynecology - American Board of Opthalmology - American Board of Orthopaedic Surgery - American Board of Otolaryngology - American Board of Pathology - American Board of Pediatrics - American Board of Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation - American Board of Plastic Surgery - American Board of Preventive Medicine - American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology - American Board of Radiology - American Board of Surgery - American Board of Thoracic Surgery - American Board of Urology
When it comes to osteopathic physicians, you can find more information here. The American Osteopathic Association has more than a dozen specialty certifying boards which offer certifications in more than 100 specialties.