COLUMBUS, Ohio – Dr. Katharine Roxanne Grawe, a plastic surgeon accused of injuring patients while livestreaming some procedures on the social media app Tik Tok, will never again work as a doctor in Ohio.
The State Medical Board of Ohio on Wednesday voted to permanently revoke the medical license of Grawe, who also goes by "Dr. Roxy." The board said Grawe, whose license has been suspended since Nov. 18, neglected her patients as she livestreamed parts of their procedures, spoke into a camera, and answered viewer questions – all while the surgeries were taking place.
The Ohio medical board reached a decision Wednesday.
"This case isn't about some antiquated view of social media ... These patients trusted Dr. Roxy because of what they saw on social media. She made major surgeries with potentially life-altering complications seem like one big party," an attorney representing the state's case against the doctor said while asking the board to revoke Grawe's license.
Grawe addressed the board before the vote, pleading for members to have an open mind when considering the accusations against her.
Grawe claimed that the discipline she's already faced was far more severe than she ever thought was possible. She also complained about the impact the accusations against her had on her life outside of the office as she said her kids have been attacked in school and her husband left her.
Grawe said she used social media in an attempt to break down the "stiff and scary wall between patients and practitioners." She now understands, she said, that she fell short of the medical board's ideals.
"As I stand here today, I see how many of those silly videos seemed unprofessional," Grawe told the board. "I understand how my actions at times seemed careless and offended my patients and colleagues."
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'Put patients in danger for the social media world'
Jonathan B. Feibel, vice president of the medical board, called out Grawe for what he described as "recklessness" and disregard for the board's rules.
Before Grawe's license was suspended, the secretary of the medical board cautioned the doctor at least twice in the previous four years about the need to maintain patient privacy when sharing photos or video on social media, according to the suspension notice filed online.
In September 2021, Grawe was urged by the secretary of the board to undertake remedial education courses related to plastic surgery complications, professionalism and ethics. She was asked to provide certificates of completion of the courses, along with summaries about what she learned and how she would apply it to her future practice.
After completing the remedial education courses, the board alleged Grawe continued to film and live broadcast medical procedures of some patients until on or about Oct. 14.
Despite the warnings, Feibel said Grawe dismissed complaints as coming from disgruntled former patients.
"It's not appropriate to put patients in danger for the social media world. Dr. Grawe's social media persona was more important to her than the lives of the patients she treated," Feibel said.
Grawe's medical license was originally suspended on Nov. 18 after "clear and convincing" evidence arose that her continued practice presented "a danger of immediate and serious harm to the public."
Procedure livestreamed on social media
The board cited three patients who reported having complications after Grawe performed surgery on them at her practice, Roxy Plastic Surgery.
In one case, a patient was sent to the emergency room by a nurse practitioner at Roxy Plastic Surgery less than a week after receiving liposuction, a Brazilian butt lift, and a skin-tightening procedure from Grawe. Free air was found in her abdomen and medical staff determined she was suffering from hepatic encephalopathy, or loss of brain function when a damaged liver doesn't remove toxins from the blood.
The patient was quickly transferred to another hospital for further evaluation and treatment. There, she underwent exploratory surgery and surgeons found her bowel had been perforated and she had a serious bacterial infection.
The patient required a prolonged stay with multiple debridements, or procedures to remove dead tissue, open abdomen, and skin grafting, according to Grawe's notice of suspension.
At least part of her procedure at Grawe's office was livestreamed on social media, during which Grawe was looking and speaking to the camera while performing liposuction on the patient's abdomen, according to the board.
At least one patient suffered severe damage and infection to her abdomen and she will likely suffer complications for the rest of her life, said both Feibel and Dr. Yeshwant P. Reddy, another member of the medical board. Such an outcome and disregard means Grawe shouldn't be allowed to practice medicine again, the doctors said.
"Can she go back and practice, correcting herself? Reddy said. "No, I don't think so."
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Ex-patient after decision: 'Finally, I have closure after 11 years'
Mary Jenkins, a former patient of Grawe, was in attendance at the medical board's meeting Wednesday. Although Jenkins wasn't one of the three patients who filed the latest complaints against the doctor, she won a lawsuit in 2016 against Grawe for a botched breast reconstruction surgery.
Jenkins, a North Side resident, founded Christians Overcoming Cancer in 2006 after she was diagnosed with breast cancer. Surgeons removed Jenkins' right breast in 2006, but she put off having reconstructive surgery until meeting Grawe in 2012.
Grawe performed a procedure at Mount Carmel St. Ann's in which a flap from Jenkins' abdomen was removed and used to construct a right breast. The flap, however, died after becoming congested with blood and was removed two days later by Grawe.
Jenkins was left with "a gaping hole in her chest that required extensive wound therapy," according to a pretrial statement filed by her attorney, David Shroyer. She spent four months in a nursing facility while the wound healed.
Jenkins' lawsuit stated Grawe's attempts to address the complications, which included leech therapy rather than surgery, "were professionally negligent and fell well below accepted standards of medical care." A jury awarded Jenkins $358,000 for the botched procedure.
Jenkins cried after the medical board stripped Grawe of her license Wednesday. She said the board's action was long overdue and wished something had been done to prevent more patients from enduring the pain she's suffered.
"I don't know what to call this feeling. I feel good, but I also feel bad," Jenkins said. "Finally, I have closure after 11 years of enduring and remembering all that I went through."
Contributing: The Associated Press
This article originally appeared on USA TODAY NETWORK: 'Dr. Roxy' loses medical license for livestreaming surgeries on TikTok