BREVARD COUNTY, Fla. — A Brevard County doctor is facing lawsuits from two former patients in Florida who said he wrongly diagnosed them with multiple sclerosis.
Court records show at least five others have requested time to investigate their claims of medical negligence.
9 Investigates discovered it's the same allegation made by five former patients in Colorado who reached agreements to dismiss their cases against the doctor after he volunteered to surrender his license there.
Another former patient in Florida said it happened to her, too, and she wants to know why the doctor is still practicing.
"I was having seizures almost every day," patient Peggy Corbett said.
It was late 2011 when Corbett first sought the help of Dr. Gary Weiss, a Palm Bay neurologist.
Scans at his in-house radiology center revealed her worst fear -- Weiss told her she had M.S.
"He told me on paper that I had 28 small scattered lesions throughout my brain," Corbett said.
The diagnosis sent her reeling.
"I went through all the phases of grief -- (lying) in bed; (I) was in denial," she said.
Heavy medications were no help. They made her sick for years, she said.
Shock turned to anger when Corbett later learned her doctor had agreed to not practice in another state to avoid discipline.
In a 2011 complaint to the Colorado Board of Medicine, a panel of neurologists expressed concerns after a patient Weiss treated for M.S. died from a complication they said he should have caught.
As multiple lawsuits followed from patients who said Weiss misdiagnosed them with M.S. in Colorado, Corbett said she sought a second opinion in Florida.
The assessment concluded it's unlikely that she has M.S.
Corbett described the last five years as a nightmare.
"I don't want to start crying. It's just been hard," she said.
After the ruling in Colorado, Weiss, who also held medical licenses in Illinois and Florida, was forced to surrender his license in Illinois.
But according to the settlement, as long as he pays a fine and completes 15 hours of additional training, Weiss can still practice in Florida, where he's done so for more than 30 years. He has offices in Merritt Island and Sebastian.
In 2003, 9 Investigates found that State Farm accused Weiss and a partner of billing the insurance company millions for hundreds of worthless diagnostic tests. A jury cleared him of racketeering, fraud and other claims.
"I just wish that he could get his license taken away," Corbett said.
In 2015, Weiss settled a $250,000 malpractice suit in Brevard County. A representative for the doctor said he has never been found to have committed malpractice.
He said he can't discuss specific patients due to confidentiality and that it's not uncommon for physicians to differ on a diagnosis.
After her own emotional and physical toll, for Corbett, one question remains.
"How many more are out there?" she said.
An attorney for Weiss said Weiss disputes all allegations and stands by his diagnoses, adding that he's had thousands of satisfied patients.
The attorney called the complaints in Florida "copycats" and said Weiss believes he'll win them if they go to court.
Weiss provided 9 Investigates with the following statement:
"The HIPAA law prohibits me from discussing this particular patient and my medical diagnosis and treatment. I emphasize, though, that no judge, no jury, no medical board has ever ruled that I committed malpractice on this patient or any other. The way I have treated all my patients is completely aligned with guidelines of the American Academy of Neurology, and
no one has claimed to the contrary."
The attorney representing Weiss made the following points in a letter sent to Channel 9:
• Dr. Weiss allowed his Colorado medical license to expire and he permanently ceased the practice of medicine in Colorado after he was diagnosed with a medical condition that made it impossible for him to continue practicing medicine part-time in the Colorado mountains due to the altitude. The Colorado Medical Board did not conduct a formal hearing to review any evidence, and it did not make any findings that Dr. Weiss had committed malpractice. It even noted that Dr. Weiss specifically denied those allegations.
• There is a present claim by Dr. Weiss against the Colorado attorneys who represented him in connection with those licensure proceedings for their poor handling of the proceedings.
• Dr. Weiss did not move his practice to Florida as a result of any disciplinary proceedings in Colorado. He has been continuously practicing medicine and treating patients in Florida for more than 30 years.
• Dr. Weiss, like most physicians, has had lawsuits filed against him that were settled prior to trial. Settling a case is not an admission of wrongdoing. It is a practical consideration in every civil lawsuit that is ever filed. Most civil cases are settled.
• Modern medicine is making it possible to develop earlier, preliminary diagnoses of many medical conditions, including multiple sclerosis. The reliability of those early diagnoses is still subject to much debate. There is room for reasonable disagreement among physicians.
• Dr. Weiss has seen more than 35,000 patients during his career. He has literally thousands of current patients who are thrilled with their care.
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