JAMES ALEXANDER COCORES, M.D., (HEREAFTER :DR. COCORES") v., STATE OF FLORIDA DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH
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IN THE DISTRICT COURT OF APPEAL
FIRST DISTRICT, STATE OF FLORIDA
JAMES ALEXANDER COCORES, NOT FINAL UNTIL TIME EXPIRES TO
FILE MOTION FOR REHEARING AND
M. D., (hereafter "Dr. Cocores"),
DISPOSITION THEREOF IF FILED
CASE NO. 1D13-1391
STATE OF FLORIDA
DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH,
Opinion filed April 30, 2013.
Petition to Review Orders Excluding the Press or Public -- Original Jurisdiction.
Sean M. Ellsworth of Ellsworth Law Firm, P.A., Miami Beach; Anthony C. Vitale of
Law Center at Brickell Bay, Miami, for Petitioner.
Jennifer A. Tschetter, General Counsel, and Therese A. Savona, Assistant General
Counsel, Florida Department of Health, Tallahassee, for Respondent.
By order of April 3, 2013, we denied the petitioner’s motion to stay the
administrative order before this court for review. We now write to explain our
The Florida Department of Health suspended this petitioner’s medical license on
an emergency basis. The suspension followed a lengthy investigation into the
petitioner’s practice by the Palm Beach Sheriff’s Office (PBSO). The investigation
involved the petitioner’s treatment of a patient who was, unbeknownst to him, an
undercover PBSO officer. According to the administrative suspension order, the
petitioner prescribed various controlled substances to the undercover officer, including
Vicodin, Xanax, Percocet, and Oxycodone, all without ever conducting a physical
examination of the officer, conducting a drug screen, or reviewing the patient’s prior
medical records. The Department’s report also indicates that the petitioner failed to
document the medications that he prescribed to the officer on “at least four occasions.”
Most troubling to this court, the petitioner made several statements to the officer
throughout the course of the investigation which indicated a disregard for the
statutorily mandated standards for the prescribing of controlled substances and an
intent to conceal such disregard. On one occasion, when the undercover officer
requested a prescription for Oxycodone, the petitioner told her that “we can’t do oxy;
it’s too highly scrutinized, but we can do Percocets.” When the officer told him that
her previous doctor’s office had been closed down by law enforcement, the petitioner
joked with her that “hopefully, [his practice wouldn’t] be closed down” by the time of
her next appointment. On the officer’s third to last visit, the petitioner finally
requested that she provide him with a copy of a recent MRI because “they are getting
very strict with that stuff.” The officer never provided the petitioner with a copy of her
MRI, and he never asked for it again, despite continuing to prescribe her Oxycodone
The Department of Health argues that a stay “would constitute a probable danger
to the health, safety, or welfare of the state.” § 120.68, Fla. Stat. (2012). Thus, the
Department argues, the petitioner is not entitled to a stay as a matter of right. Id.
Given the statements made by the petitioner throughout the course of the investigation,
we are inclined to agree. Such statements evince a conscious disregard for the
statutory requirements for the prescribing of controlled substances – which include,
inter alia, the requirement that “[a] complete medical history and a physical
examination must be conducted before beginning any treatment and must be
documented in the medical record.” § 456.54(3)(a), Fla. Stat. (2012). Given the
petitioner’s apparent disregard for these statutorily mandated standards, we decline to
enter a stay of the order on appeal. § 120.68, Fla. Stat. (2012).
ROWE, MARSTILLER, and SWANSON, JJ., CONCUR.