JACKSON, Miss. (AP) — The new head of Mississippi's agency for licensing and disciplining doctors has faced 12 lawsuits alleging malpractice, The Clarion-Ledger reports .
Judges dismissed some, but Dr. Kenneth Cleveland, recently hired as executive director of the Mississippi State Board of Licensure, settled at least two of the suits, the newspaper reported.
"Just because you have a lawsuit filed against you doesn't mean you've done anything wrong," said Dr. Charles Miles, president of the licensing board. "I can assure you I can get an attorney to file suit because you wore the wrong color shoes if he thought he could make some money."
Cleveland resigned his admitting privileges at Baptist Medical Center and Central Mississippi Medical Center in 2011, the year two patients filed complaints that were later settled,
He did so on advice from his own doctor, Cleveland told the newspaper through an attorney. Back problems were causing numbness in his extremities and making it difficult to stand for long periods of time, he said.
Cleveland is now CEO and a physician at a medical spa specializing in weight loss and cosmetic non-surgical procedures.
Miles said he and his colleagues found Cleveland the best of 11 candidates for the $200,000-a-year job.
The licensure board has never disciplined Cleveland nor received reports of a hospital disciplining him, Miles said. He said he and his colleagues considered Cleveland's malpractice suits in the hiring process and determined he was the best candidate.
"We think he's going to do a good job. He's qualified. He's a nice guy with a good personality and medical knowledge, which is what we were looking for," Miles said.
The board fired its former director Dr. John Hall in May without giving a reason. Hall "just didn't work out," Miles said.
Hall told the newspaper he believes the board was turned off by his approach to disciplining doctors, which was more stringent than that of previous directors.
He had made a number of changes, including increased transparency in doctor discipline. He told board members they had to make public what they called "non public letters of concern" issued to doctors after complaints, often in lieu of official board action.
Hall said in an email that, because members are nominated by the state medical association — and therefore by doctors they regulate — "the board has deep, irremediable conflict of interest."