Professionalism/Dr. Malachi Love-Robinson

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Dr. Malachi Love-Robinson as a teenager masqueraded as a doctor in West Palm Beach, Florida. In two high-profile cases, he impersonated an anesthesiologist at St. Mary's Medical Center and later launched his own medical care center, New Birth New Life Holistic Alternative Medical Center & Urgent Care. In both instances, Love-Robinson was arrested despite claiming that he only wanted to help people.

Introduction[edit]

To understand the case of Dr. Malachi Love-Robinson, there are a few background topics that need addressing.

Good Samaritan Laws[edit]

In the United States, someone who renders aid to an injured or ill person is usually protected from liability should the latter suffer from further damage. The clause of laws that correspond to that situation are called the "Good Samaritan Laws.[1]" Although there are differences among states, most of them assert that "Any person who in good faith renders emergency care, without compensation or expectation of compensation, at the scene of an accident or emergency to the victim of the accident or emergency shall not be liable for any civil damages resulting from the persons acts or omission, except for such damages as may result from the persons gross negligence or wanton acts or omissions." These laws are meant to encourage people to assist others without the worry of legal liability. An interpretation may be that the intent to save someone supersedes all else. However, there is ambiguity over the Good Samaritan Laws' wordage of "good faith" and whether good intentions are sufficient to help people without repercussions. The case of Dr. Malachi Love-Robinson provides insight to whether good intentions correspond to ethical decisions.

Holistic & Alternative Medicine[edit]

The case of Dr. Malachi Love-Robinson also deals with the ethics of "holistic" and "alternative" medicine. Practitioners of holistic medicine claim that they can use alternative therapies in addition to conventional medication to treat patients. These alternative therapies may include dieting, exercise, psychotherapy, spiritual counseling, acupuncture, homeopathy, and naturopathy. [2] Some of these treatments are relatively common advice, such as dieting and exercise. Others, like acupuncture, homeopathy, and naturopathy, are more rare.

Acupuncture is a traditional Chinese medicine technique that uses needles to stimulate specific points around the body. This is meant to relieve neck and back pain, nausea, anxiety, depression, and insomnia.[3]

Homeopathy is the treatment of a disease by administering small doses of substances that normally cause the same symptoms in a healthy person. This philosophy is based around the idea that the body has the ability to heal itself.[4] For example, a homeopathic treatment for the common cold may be to eat onions. Both cause similar symptoms of teary eyes and runny noses.

Naturopathy is the practice of therapeutic methods to heal patients. This involves dietary and lifestyle changes, herbal supplements, detoxification, and counseling.[5]

Although it is a common misconception that alternative medicine physicians do not require a license to practice, every state has a variation of steps to gain legal accreditation.[6] Although there is no standardized, national system for credentialing alternative health practitioners, all states require some combination of the following: graduation from a certified program, completion of a specified amount of training, and completion of a written and/or practical exam. This holds true in Florida, where only licensed physicians are permitted to offer alternative medicine to patients.[7] As the following case demonstrates, rendering care in "good faith" is not sufficient to overcome the lack of legal accreditation.

Early Life[edit]

Malachi Love-Robinson was born in May, 1997, in West Palm Beach Florida.

St. Mary's Medical Center[edit]

On January 13, 2015, Malachi Love-Robinson was escorted off the premises of St. Mary's Medical Center in West Palm Beach, Fla. for impersonating medical personnel. He was discovered in the OB/GYN office "dressed in a white lab coat and... a stethoscope and a face mask".[8]

Despite being seventeen at the time, Love-Robinson asserted that he had been a doctor for years, and later claimed that he had merely been requesting to shadow physicians and that the situation had been blown out of proportion. In addition, a security guard told police that "Dr. Robinson", as he called himself, had been seen working around the hospital for "about a month" even in restricted areas.[9] Dr. Sebastian Kent, an actual OB/GYN fro St. Mary's, stated that Love-Robinson had introduced himself as an anesthesiologist and had tried to "'ingratiate himself with [Dr. Kent] so [he] would take him around'".[10]

Due to his status as a minor, it was determined that that he would not be charged, nor would his name or age be released to the public. After a brief detainment, he was let off with a warning. His mother also said Love-Robinson was being cared by a doctor and refused to take any medicine, further complicating the situation.[11]

Boynton Beach Rehabilitation Facility[edit]

At a later point in 2015, Love-Robinson began working as a massage therapist at Boynton Beach Rehabilitation Facility. This job continued for some months, until the Florida Department of Health received an anonymous tip-off regarding his unlicensed, untrained status. On December 2nd, Love-Robinson received a Cease-and-Desist letter.[12]

New Birth New Life Holistic Alternative Medical Center & Urgent Care[edit]

In January of 2016, Love-Robinson opened the New Birth New Life Holistic Alternative Medical Center & Urgent Care in an office block at 4700 N. Congress Ave. in West Palm Beach. The office block also housed several legitimate and well established small medical practices. Love-Robinson hired two employees (an operations director and a programs director). To increase its legitimacy, Love-Robinson created a NBNL website, Facebook page, and established an account for himself on the doctor rating website Healthgrades.org[13] where he described himself as "a well rounded [professional] that treats, and cares for patients, using a system of practice that bases treatment of physiological functions and abnormal conditions on natural laws governing the human body... utiliz[ing] physiological, psychological, and mechanical methods, such as air, water, light, heat, earth, phototherapy, food and herb therapy, psychotherapy, electrotherapy, physiotherapy, minor and orificial surgery, mechanotherapy, naturopathic corrections and manipulation, and natural methods or modalities, together with natural medicines, natural processed foods, and herbs and nature’s remedies."[14] He also listed his age at 25, and claimed to be a minister. In addition, Love-Robinson created a fake diploma from the University of Arizona, which he shared on his Facebook page. Love-Robinson's false credentials were revealed when he gave an office tour to a local ABC affiliate morning show. The suffix M.D. was found covered with tape on his nameplate (~1:25 in the video).[15]

Result[edit]

"Doctor" Malachi Love-Robinson was arrested in February 2016 for falsifying his medical license and misleading patients after a police sting operation caught him violating Florida law. The sting was conducted after a citation from the Department of Health for practicing medicine without a license in October 2015 failed [16]. An undercover agent went to Robinson's office and arrested him after receiving a physical exam and medical advice. Even after his arrest, Robinson remained defiant; he made national headlines by willingly appearing on "Good Morning America" and the "Today Show" to defend himself.

On January 4th, 2018, Malachi Love-Robinson pleaded guilty to 14 criminal charges and sentenced to 3 1/2 years behind bars, with credit for the 16 months already served. He will not be on probation, although he must repay his victims $80,000 after his release. This punishment is considered light, given the quantity and severity of the crimes committed. If tried and convicted, he would have faced potentially up to 90 years in prison.[17]

Other Legal Run-ins[edit]

In addition to fraud charges, Love-Robinson was accused of cashing an 86-year-old woman's checks after she was taken to the hospital. After finding him during an online search for doctors using natural therapies, Love-Robinson made several house visits to treat her severe intestinal pain. During one visit, she became so ill that Love-Robinson called for an ambulance and convinced her leave her purse at the house. Love-Robinson would later use her checks to make payments for his car loans and credit cards.[18]

After being arraigned on medical fraud charges and released on a $26,000 bail, Love-Robinson was arrested in Stafford County, VA; he was accused of using his 73-year-old godmother's personal information without permission to buy a $35,000 Jaguar.[19] He plead guilty to one count of false statement to obtain credit and a forgery-type charge, serving a one year jail sentence before returning to Florida to be tried for practicing without a license.

Conclusions[edit]

There are several definitions of the word "professional." [20]

1.engaged in one the learned professions (doctor, lawyer, etc.)

2.engaged in by persons receiving financial return

3.exhibiting a courteous, conscientious, and generally businesslike manner in the workplace

There is also a 4th definition whose exact meaning is debated, but a rough definition follows:

4. a person who is mature enough to take responsibility for their actions and place their profession above their career

Acting in good faith is not enough to be considered a professional; just as in the Good Samaritan Laws, actions taken by a true professional must be reasonable by the standards of average people. This is particularly important in professions where lives hang in the balance, such as healthcare. Even without looking at the scams committed by Love-Robinson, it would be impossible to consider him a professional since managing an office where doctors could treat patients goes far beyond what would be reasonable. He would be committing several crimes to do this, as he would be falsifying diplomas and misleading people to win their trust. Ironically, his actions hurt the medical profession more than the help he provided.

References[edit]

Note: Reference 10 can only be accessed using the WayBack Machine and selecting 2/17.

  1. Good Samaritans Law and Legal Definition. USLegal.com. https://definitions.uslegal.com/g/good-samaritans/.
  2. What is Holistic Medicine? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-holistic-medicine.
  3. What Exactly is Alternative Medicine? WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/guide/what-is-alternative-medicine.
  4. Homeopathy - Topic Overview. WebMD. https://www.webmd.com/balance/tc/homeopathy-topic-overview.
  5. Naturopathy. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/naturopathy.
  6. Credentialing, Licensing, and Education. U.S. Department of Health and Human Services. National Center of Complementary and Integrative Health. https://nccih.nih.gov/health/decisions/credentialing.htm.
  7. Florida | Board of Medicine. http://flboardofmedicine.gov/help-center/do-you-have-to-be-licensed-in-florida-to-practice-alternative-medicine-such-as-naturopathy-or-homeopathy/.
  8. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-west-palm-beach-fake-teen-doctor-20150115-story.html
  9. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-west-palm-fake-doctor-20160216-story.html
  10. https://heavy.com/news/2016/02/malachi-love-robinson-palm-beach-florida-teen-fake-doctor-website-facebook-photos-staff-new-birth-life-holistic-alternative-medical/
  11. https://heavy.com/news/2016/02/malachi-love-robinson-palm-beach-florida-teen-fake-doctor-website-facebook-photos-staff-new-birth-life-holistic-alternative-medical/
  12. http://www.wpbf.com/article/exclusive-interview-with-teen-accused-of-practicing-medicine-without-license/1402373
  13. https://www.washingtonpost.com/news/morning-mix/wp/2016/02/17/not-quite-doogie-howser-florida-18-year-old-charged-with-masquerading-as-a-doctor/?utm_term=.626b20f9243a
  14. https://web.archive.org/web/20160217231649/http://www.nbnlmedicalcenter.com/staff.html
  15. https://abcnews.go.com/GMA/video/teen-arrested-practicing-medicine-license-speaks-37022145
  16. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-teen-doctor-plea-deal-20180104-story.html
  17. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-teen-doctor-plea-deal-20180104-story.html
  18. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-teen-doctor-plea-deal-20180104-story.html
  19. http://www.sun-sentinel.com/local/palm-beach/fl-pn-teen-doctor-plea-deal-20180104-story.html
  20. https://www.merriam-webster.com/dictionary/professional