Saturday, February 7, 2009

TAMPA, Fla. (AP) | The Board of Medicine on Friday revoked the license of a Florida doctor accused of medical malpractice in a botched abortion in which a live baby was delivered, but ended up dead in a cardboard box.

The board found Pierre Jean-Jacque Renelique in violation of Florida statutes by committing medical malpractice, delegating responsibility to unlicensed personnel and failing to keep an accurate medical record.

Mr. Renelique and his attorney declined to comment after the hearing.

The Department of Health said Mr. Renelique was scheduled to perform an abortion on a teenager who was 23 weeks pregnant in 2006. Sycloria Williams had been given drugs in advance to dilate her cervix. According to the complaint, she gave birth at a Hialeah clinic after waiting hours for Mr. Renelique to arrive. The complaint said one of the clinic owners put the baby in a bag, which was thrown away.

Police found the infant’s decomposing remains a week later. A medical examiner determined the cause of death was extreme prematurity, the complaint states.

At Friday’s hearing, Mr. Renelique told the board of his lifelong quest to be a doctor. He said there are generations of physicians in his family, and that he decided to follow the same path after seeing his father treat patients.

Mr. Renelique described saving a woman’s life during the second year of his medical residency in Haiti. He later left his home country to work and train in the United States. It was never his intention to do abortions, he said.

“That was not part of my goals when I came to Florida,” he said. “But I had to do it to survive.”

No criminal charges have been filed in the case, but the Miami-Dade State Attorney’s Office is investigating. On Friday, several Republican legislators called on the office to prosecute the person responsible for the baby’s death.

“These events are nothing short of murder,” state Rep. Anitere Flores of Miami said. “It is our duty to call for immediate charges to be filed to ensure that no other young women become victims of this clinic.”

Mr. Renelique said he met the patient a day before the abortion. According to the Department of Health, he gave Miss Williams a drug that dilates the cervix. He said he told her to come in the next day at 10 a.m. “for safety,” and planned to later examine her before the abortion.

Mr. Renelique said that as he was en route to the clinic, he was called to treat another patient who was bleeding.

When he arrived to treat Miss Williams, she was bleeding, but no one told him she’d already delivered, Mr. Renelique said. He began the procedure, and realized there was no baby. A sonogram detected nothing.

“That’s when one of the employees came to me and said, ‘Doctor Renelique, what are you looking for?’ ” he recalled. “I said, ‘I’m looking for a fetus.’ And she said, ‘What fetus?’ ”

The employee then told him that Miss Williams had already delivered.

In a lawsuit, Miss Williams says that Belkis Gonzalez, one of the clinic owners, had knocked the infant off the chair where she had given birth, scooped the baby, placenta and afterbirth into a red plastic biohazard bag, and threw it out.

Attorney Joseph Harrison said Mr. Renelique expected the board to uphold the current restriction on his license, which prohibits him from performing abortions unless another physician is present. The Department of Health recommended that his license be suspended. But the board decided to revoke it, which means he will not be able to practice medicine in Florida.

Dr. Jason Rosenberg, a board member, said Mr. Renelique showed callous disregard toward Miss Williams.

“You acted as though you had no interest in treating this patient,” he said.

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