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New allegations plague Florida's controversial surgeon general

Dr. Joseph Ladapo's former UCLA supervisor does not think he should be Florida's state surgeon general.

Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis' handpicked state surgeon general, Dr. Joseph Ladapo, is currently doing the job, but he still needs to be formally confirmed by the Republican-led state Senate. To that end, the Florida Department of Law Enforcement did a routine background investigation as part of the confirmation process.

It apparently didn't go especially well. The Tallahassee Democrat newspaper reported yesterday that Ladapo's former supervisor at UCLA discouraged Florida officials from hiring the controversial doctor.

"In my opinion, the people of Florida would be better served by a Surgeon General who grounds his policy decisions and recommendations on the best scientific evidence rather than opinions," the unnamed supervisor at the University of California, Los Angeles, said in the Jan. 18 report prepared by a senior crime intelligence analyst for the Senate.

According to the local report, the UCLA supervisor added that Ladapo's weird theories "created a stressful environment for his research and clinical colleagues and subordinates," some of whom believed the doctor "violated the duty in the Hippocratic Oath to behave honestly and ethically."

In the Florida Department of Law Enforcement report, Ladapo's views were described as having led to "stress and acrimony among his coworkers and supervisors."

The newspaper did not get a comment from Ladapo, but the press secretary for the Florida Department of Health "characterized Ladapo as a misunderstood visionary."

This is not the first time Ladapo's work at UCLA has generated scrutiny.

During his tenure, the physician claimed in a USA Today op-ed that his perspective on Covid treatments had been shaped by his experience "taking care of patients with COVID-19 at UCLA's flagship hospital." Two weeks later, Ladapo added in a Wall Street Journal op-ed that he had his experience "caring for patients with suspected or diagnosed Covid-19 infections at UCLA."

Thanks to reporting from The Rachel Maddow Show, those claims have since been called into question. As my colleague Kay Guerrero explained in a report in November, "Several former colleagues of Dr. Joseph Ladapo ... say he misled the public about his experience treating Covid-19 patients."

One UCLA source also said, in reference to Ladapo, "A lot of people here at UCLA are glad that he is gone because we were embarrassed by his opinions and behavior. At the same time, we don't wish this on the people of Florida. They don't deserve to have someone like him making their health decisions."

This latest reporting comes a month after Ladapo held a press conference in which he was critical of Covid testing.

A few months prior, Ladapo questioned the efficacy of Covid-19 vaccines, denounced vaccine requirements, referenced unsubstantiated conspiracy theories to argue against the vaccines, and encouraged Floridians to "stick with their intuition," as opposed to following the guidance of public health officials who actually know what they're talking about.

As regular readers may recall, it was around the same time when Ladapo started pushing "innovative" Covid-19 treatments with little track record of success, to the frustration of state physicians and medical experts.

Before taking office, the doctor also spent much of the pandemic questioning the value of vaccines and the efficacy of masks, while simultaneously touting ineffective treatments such as hydroxychloroquine.

It led the editorial board of the Orlando Sentinel to describe Ladapo as a "COVID crank" who's been "associated with a right-wing group of physicians whose members include a physician who believes infertility and miscarriages are the result of having sex with demons and witches during dreams."

Whether this might give the GOP-led state Senate in Florida pause remains to be seen. Ladapo's nomination is scheduled to receive a vote in Tallahassee next week.