Ohio doctor loses medical license for TikTok livestreams

Grawe has not been allowed to practice medicine since the medical board suspended her license November 18.
Last Updated : 13 July 2023, 09:12 IST

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An Ohio plastic surgeon lost her medical license Wednesday after the state medical board investigated her for live-streaming operations on TikTok and for surgical complications reported by patients.

The Ohio Medical Board voted at a hearing Wednesday to permanently revoke Dr Katharine Roxanne Grawe’s medical license and to fine her $4,500 “based on her failure to meet the standard of care.”

At the hearing, doctors on the board said that Grawe, known online as “Dr Roxy,” had been cautioned about protecting patient privacy on social media. They also spoke about her treatment of three unnamed patients who had reported complications from procedures. Grawe had broadcast part of one patient’s surgery on social media.

Dr Jonathan B. Feibel, vice president of the medical board, recommended that Grawe’s license be revoked because of the “life-altering, reckless treatment” provided to those patients.

“These outcomes were not normal complications like those that exist in the routine practice of medicine, but were rather caused by recklessness and disregard for the rules governing the practice of medicine in Ohio,” he said.

He said Grawe’s social media presence “amplified her reckless behaviour” and accused her of using it to grow her brand, not to educate.

Grawe has not been allowed to practice medicine since the medical board suspended her license on November 18, according to The Columbus Dispatch. The board said at the time that her continued practice presented “a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public.”

Grawe addressed the medical board at the hearing before the vote. She said she had reflected on the board’s critiques over the past year and saw how she had “fallen below the board’s ideal in multiple ways.”

She added that she made social media videos because she loved teaching and wanted to explain cosmetic surgery to people outside the medical field. “But, as I stand here today, I see how many of those videos appeared silly and unprofessional,” she said.

She said that her husband had left her because of the stress from the situation, her children had been harassed at school because of the media attention and she had to fire 20 employees at her clinic, Roxy Plastic Surgery in Powell, a city north of Columbus.

Grawe’s TikTok account is now private and it is not clear how many followers she had when it was public. On Instagram, she still has more than 100,000 followers.

Grawe has 15 days after the board’s order is mailed to appeal the decision, said Jerica Stewart, a spokesperson for the medical board. A call to Grawe’s lawyer on Wednesday was not immediately returned.

Many of the medical board’s concerns were outlined in a suspension notice sent to Grawe in November.

The board said that, in letters sent in October 2018 and September 2021, it had cautioned Grawe about the need to maintain patient privacy on social media. In the second letter, the board secretary recommended Grawe take remedial education courses about plastic surgery and “professionalism/ethics.”

Grawe gave the board documents that showed she had completed remedial classes, including “ethical social media” in December 2021, the board said, but she continued to record video and live broadcast medical procedures through October 14, 2022.

These videos included patient interviews and photos before operations, livestreams of procedures, and photos taken in the operating room after surgery. During some videos, Grawe responded to viewers’ online questions “while the surgical procedure remains actively ongoing,” the board said.

At least three patients, who were not named, had experienced complications after seeing Grawe for cosmetic surgery, and their issues were outlined in the suspension notice.

One patient, according to the board’s notice, received a Brazilian butt lift, tummy tuck and liposuction from Grawe in July 2020. The patient saw Grawe again in March 2022 for more cosmetic procedures, and Grawe looked at and spoke to a camera while engaged in liposuction on the patient’s abdomen, the board said.

A few days after the surgery, the patient was hospitalized and found to have a perforated small bowel and a soft tissue infection.

In December 2020, Grawe provided several cosmetic procedures to another patient under anaesthesia, including liposuction and a Brazilian butt lift. The next day, the patient went to the emergency room because she was experiencing severe abdominal pain and cramping and had to have several surgeries on her stomach.

Grawe saw the third patient in December 2021 for a breast augmentation. A few days later, the patient reported nausea and bleeding from her breast and was treated at the clinic. Afterward, the patient reported pain, malaise and nausea. A nurse practitioner then treated her at the clinic, but the patient had to be hospitalized for a faster-than-normal heart rate. At the hospital, she was found to have an infection that required treatment and the removal of her breast implants.

Mary Jenkins, another former patient, won a lawsuit against Grawe in 2016 for complications from breast reconstruction surgery, according to The Columbus Dispatch.

Published 13 July 2023, 09:12 IST

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