Bruce Berman’s license to practice medicine was suspended in 2015 after the Jupiter doctor was found dispensing powerful pain medications to drug addicts, patients with mental-health issues and, in one case, a “morbidly obese” woman complaining she couldn’t bend over.
But, according to law-enforcement officials, that didn’t keep Berman from offering to diagnose and treat an undercover Florida Department of Health investigator during an appointment on Aug. 21, 2015.
Berman, 62, was booked into the Palm Beach County Jail on Friday and is facing a charge of practicing medicine without a license. He was released after posting a $3,000 bond.
Berman declined to comment when reached Tuesday, referring all questions to his attorney, Peter Grable of West Palm Beach. Grable did not return calls.
At the time of the appointment, Berman’s license had been suspended for six months after investigators found he had prescribed drugs such as oxycodone, Xanax and Dilaudid sometimes without performing adequate examinations and, in a few cases, failing to refer patients to addiction specialists, according to Florida Department of Health documents. The probe dated to 2010.
They found that Berman — who founded Palm Beach Holistic Center on Indiantown Road in Jupiter — “prescribed to (the patient) an inappropriate and dangerous quantity of controlled substances,” according to state health records.
Court records show that Berman’s license was suspended in 2015 by the Florida Board of Medicine on nine counts of medical malpractice, including:
— Treating a “morbidly obese” patient who complained of being unable to bend by prescribing a slew of medications including oxycodone, Xanax and Percocet. Berman performed only routine physical examinations while treating the patient from March 3, 2011 to Jan. 2, 2012, and continued to prescribe pain medications despite standards of care requiring “alternative treatments for her pain, such as physical therapy.”
— Prescribing oxycodone and Xanax to a patient known to be snorting Roxicodone, a drug that contains oxycodone. The patient, according to the complaint against Berman, was “a very high risk patient for abuse or diversion of medications.” Despite that, Berman continued to supply the person with a cocktail of prescription pain medications from Sept. 1, 2010, to Oct. 1, 2012. The patient had gone to Berman’s clinic complaining of abdominal pain.
— Failing to supervise closely a bipolar patient who was seen as a “high risk” to abuse her medication. Berman recommended alternative therapies for pain the woman was experiencing but continued to prescribe Valium, Dilaudid and other pain medications for nearly a year even after the woman failed to follow the doctor’s recommendations.
Berman’s medical practice was in such disarray that another physician backed out of a plan to purchase the office’s database, according to a small claims lawsuit filed this month.
Mikhail N. Berman, a doctor in Palm Beach Gardens, states in court documents that he asked to have a $7,500 down payment returned after finding gross deficiencies in the practice, including medical notes that are “woefully substandard” and medical charts that lacked basic information such as a patient’s address and phone number.
Mikhail Berman also complained that “patients are calling for medication refills” without showing up at the doctor’s office despite being informed that it is illegal to do so.
Bruce Berman refused to return the down payment and is now suing Mikhail Berman for the remaining $7,500, court documents show.
“He told me the money was gone and he can’t give it back,” Mikhail Berman said Wednesday from his medical office in Palm Beach Gardens.
The Bermans are not related.
State records show that Bruce Berman was first licensed in Florida to practice medicine in 1990 and that his license is scheduled to remain active through Jan. 31, 2019.
According to his biography on the Palm Beach Holistic Health Center’s website, Berman got into the holistic field “after years of frustration, treating only symptoms of disease with toxic pharmaceutical drugs.”
The bio goes on to say that Berman “believes in body, mind and spirit healing” and helps patients “stop using so many harmful prescription medications … ”