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How felons can slip through cracks and gain licensure

If you’re a convicted felon, breaching the licensing regulatory system can be as easy as disingenuously checking “no” instead of “yes” on an application, according to a July 17 report by investigative journalists at ProPublica.

Dr. Constantine Toumbis nearly killed a man in 1989 when he was a medical student, and was subsequently convicted of felonious assault and expelled from medical school. Since that time, Toumbis has become a successful spinal surgeon in Florida, is chief of staff at a hospital, and conducts operations at another.

But behind the facade of accomplishment, the ProPublica report revealed a pattern of lying on applications about his criminal past, and an alarmingly high rate of complications involving routine spinal procedures.

According to the report, Toumbis has one of the highest rates for spinal surgery complications in the nation, resulting in at least two deaths over five years.

Not only has Toumbis not been reprimanded for malpractice, he has eluded investigation altogether and remains chief of staff and a member of the Citrus Memorial Board of Trustees.

According to the report, the Florida Health Department has acknowledged that Toumbis did not disclose his expulsion from medical school or felony conviction on several applications, and if he did, he portrayed himself as the victim instead of the perpetrator. The Department did not review Toumbis applications beyond the document and answers he provided, according to the report.

Read the full story here.