CPB Office of the Ombudsman

Oztracized in South Florida

Joel Kaplan

September 12, 2012

Christopher Morson, a listener of WLRN, the public radio station in South Florida, had some harsh words for a recent interview of Dr. Michael Ozner on the station's Tropical Currents show. He complained to the NPR ombudsman, who passed it on to me.

"I thought you might like to know that the Dr. Ozner interviewed today by Joseph Cooper on WLRN has not practiced medicine let alone cardiology since 1999," Mr. Morson writes. "His frequent allusions to his patients thus are nothing more than in his imagination.

"Just because someone writes a book it does not mean he is an authority. Among the cognoscenti he is regarded as a self-promoting quack.

"I am most disappointed that the station gave him a platform to mislead the public and hype his book and website.

I thought better of NPR and WLRN. You fell down on the job."

Needless to say, neither Mr. Cooper nor Dr. Ozner was happy with this criticism and flatly rejected the assertions.

"He's the ultimate authority on preventative health care," said Mr. Cooper. "To say that he doesn't practice and the world has passed him by is totally ludicrous. He's been on before and whenever he's on he's terrific. We had no complaints about that program, only positive responses."

Dr. Ozner, who is medical director for Baptist Health South Florida's Center for Prevention and Wellness, seemed flabbergasted by the criticism.

"I've been on NPR three times already and each time they keep inviting me back," he said. "The audience in the South Florida area keeps requesting that I come back. I've been president of the American Heart Association in South Florida. I'm a fellow in the American College of Cardiology, a fellow of the American Heart Association. I was given the humanitarian award by the American Heart Association a couple years ago. I'm listed in top cardiologists in America. I mean I could go on and on."

Dr. Ozner said that while his practice is now closed, "that has no bearing on anything. There are a lot of people in academic medicine who do research who do a lot of very good things. And I've always worn many different hats. But the fact of the matter is my credentials are impeccable and that's probably why I lecture not only around the country but around the world.

"So for somebody to say I don't see enough patients to satisfy them and make these accusations is libelous. I think that's outrageous. People should be careful making statements that are inflammatory. It's one thing to disagree. But how about all of the people who I heard from after I was on that radio show who thanked me for enlightening them on how to prevent heart attacks and strokes and all of the people's emails I've answered."

Mr. Cooper added that Dr. Ozner has only been on his show twice and the last time was three years ago.

"He's very good with listener calls," Mr. Cooper says. "He's also very well known. He's come out very strongly against needless heart surgery. He's very adamant if someone needs to have heart surgery or a stent or a bypass they should. But he says a lot of them are done needlessly. He's just a terrific guest."

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