Kansas radiologist and U.S. Senate hopeful facing dual scandals

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Milton Wolf, MD, a radiologist running in the Republican primary for a U.S. Senate seat in Kansas, is facing criticism on two fronts early this midterm election year.

Opponents are questioning his role in an alleged price-fixing scheme at the center of a lawsuit aimed at the Kansas City-area group Alliance Radiology, where Wolf is a partner. Meanwhile, Wolf also is doing damage control following a Facebook discussion of an x-ray of a grisly firearm injury in which Wolf made comments that were perceived to be insensitive.

The lawsuit, brought by Mark Idstrom, MD, a radiologist formerly employed by Alliance, accused the group of a price-fixing scheme to prevent competition and drive up costs, according to a report from the Kansas City Star. Idstrom alleged that Alliance controls more than half of the Kansas City market for radiological services, and that he’s been unable to find work in the area since being dismissed from the group. His claims involve potential damages of more than $7.8 million, according to the report.

Though Wolf is not named as a defendant in the case, the campaign for his political opponent, incumbent Sen. Pat Roberts, has suggested that Wolf’s partnership in Alliance indicates he is more motivated by profit than patient care, according to the Kansas City Star.

Wolf pushed back on this notion in a statement, saying “Attempts to link this frivolous case to public policy propositions I have made while running for U.S. Senate show either a failure, or a refusal, to follow the facts.”

The case could go before a jury later this year.

Questions about the lawsuit come as Wolf is dealing with another mini-controversy involving his conduct on social media. This week, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported that several years ago, Wolf posted gruesome images of patients to a Facebook discussion.

None of the images revealed a patient’s identity, but his comments about the images have been criticized. For example, on an x-ray of an individual decapitated by gunfire, Wolf posted, “What kind of gun blows somebody's head completely off? I've got to get one of those,” according to the Topeka Capital-Journal report. Wolf also said the image reminded him of the film “Terminator 2” in which the villain is shot and splits open “like a flower blooming” and that “We all find beauty in different things.”

Wolf has apologized for the posts.