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Still no state discipline for Florida doctors questioned over school mask exemption forms

Despite citizen complaints, no cases brought to state board
Posted at 8:29 AM, Jan 20, 2022
and last updated 2022-01-20 08:29:01-05

It was paperwork that launched a firestorm of debate among Florida parents.

Politicians and even a few Florida doctors were accused of using school mask exemption forms to profit or push a personal political agenda.

But five months after Florida's great mask debate, we've discovered not a single Florida doctor has faced any state action for inappropriately signing school mask opt-out forms.

Dr. Steven Rosenberg, a West Palm Beach dermatologist, served for years on Florida's Board of Medicine, the state body that disciplines doctors who do wrong.

Rosenberg now leads one of several Board of Medicine probable cause panels.

The panels review complaints lodged against doctors and determine if a case should be dismissed or if it warrants Florida's Department of Health to file an administrative complaint.

Once the state files a formal complaint, the case is brought to the Board of Medicine for final judgment and discipline.

To date, Rosenberg said no cases about doctors and COVID-19, including school mask exemption forms, have reached his panel for review.

"It's unusual. I would have anticipated that by now we should be seeing some cases, either in probable cause or even at the Board of Medicine," said Rosenberg.

He said cases typically take three to six months to be investigated before it reaches a probable cause panel.

If no probable cause is found, the case is dismissed and the public will never know about it since complaints against doctors don't become public record until 10 days after probable cause is found.

Back in September, we first told you about doctors who signed school mask exemption forms and raised some eyebrows over them.

Dr. Brian Warden, a Tallahassee ER doctor, described himself on social media as a "real doctor" when he was found advertising online "signed opt-out forms on official letterhead."

Concerned parents brought his posts to our attention after Warden was allegedly charging $50 per signed form.

One parent we spoke with at the time said she was "shocked" when she saw his posts.

Once his actions made headlines, the hospital where Warden worked at the time removed him from servicing patients. Five months later, his state medical license remains clear and active with no discipline on file.

Warden did not respond to our calls nor did a representative from the hospital where he worked at the time.

Then there's Dr. Dan Busch, a Venice chiropractor whose alleged involvement in signing school mask exemption forms left the Sarasota County school district adopting new rules on which doctors could sign off on the mask opt-out forms.

Busch was accused of signing hundreds of forms and allegedly handing them out like candy without conducting proper evaluations on kids.

Busch's state license also remains clear and active.

A spokesperson with Florida's Department of Health confirmed the department has not filed any formal documents charging any doctor, including chiropractors, for anything concerning mask exemptions.

Janet Bryan calls it "ridiculous."

She is a grandmother who works in the health care industry and filed her own state complaint against Busch back in September.

Bryan said she hasn't received a phone call from the state nor has she heard anything from the state about the complaint she filed. E-mails to Busch's attorney remain unanswered.

It’s no secret Florida's governor has staunchly opposed school mask mandates. In November, Gov. Ron DeSantis even signed a new law banning school districts from mandating masks.

Still, Bryan isn't convinced that the lack of action is an indication that the state is giving doctors a COVID-19 pass. She remains hopeful the doctor, who she believes overstepped his boundary, will eventually pay the price for it.

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