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University doctor gets suspension, probation

A USF doctor convicted of withholding evidence from law enforcement in April received a 10-day suspension without pay from USF Health last week.

Dr. David Ciesla, associate professor of surgery and director of the trauma/critical care division for the USF medical school, received a letter of discipline Sept. 9 outlining his punishment.

The days when Ciesla will serve the 10-day suspension will be determined in “consultation” with the Office of Faculty Affairs, Stephen Klasko, vice president of USF Health, said in the letter.

The suspension will be the only time pay will be deducted from Ciesla’s annual salary, said University spokesman Michael Hoad.

On April 21, Ciesla found a bullet while performing surgery on a man who was shot by a deputy U.S. marshal. Ciesla took the bullet out of the patient’s abdomen and put it in his pocket, Dr. Sergio Alvarez, who assisted Ciesla during surgery, said in an interview with Florida Department of Law Enforcement (FDLE) agents.

After surgery, Ciesla told FDLE agents the bullet was in the patient’s liver and “we don’t go after bullets in the liver.”

The Hillsborough County state attorney filed misdemeanor charges on two counts: providing false information to law enforcement during an investigation and obstructing or opposing an officer without violence. Ciesla pleaded no contest to the charges.

“Your actions of April 21 demonstrated a clear lack of judgment and were inconsistent with the ethical and professional obligations of your role as a (USF) member,” Klasko said in the letter.

Ciesla also received two years probation under the supervisor of the Salvation Army Correctional Services, which he must pay $65 for the first month of supervision and $55 each subsequent month. He must also pay $175 plus court costs within 10 months.

Ciesla has to complete 100 hours of community service at 10 hours per month. Hoad said Ciesla will complete his hours at Tampa General Hospital, where Ciesla serves as the head of trauma.

As part of the community service hours, Ciesla will deliver a three to four-hour presentation to medical students and residents regarding “the role of the physician in obtaining, securing and transmitting medical evidence for law enforcement purposes.”

Ciesla was asked to provide his services to surgical support and follow-up care to law enforcement officers or agents.

Klasko said if Ciesla engages in any further violations of University Policies it could result in “further progressive discipline,” including a termination of employment.

“To the best of our knowledge, this was an isolated incident,” Klasko said. “You have openly expressed extreme remorse and we have been impressed by your subsequent professionalism with respect to the residents who witnessed the incident.”