OVERLAND PARK (AP) -- A tea party-backed Kansas radiologist who is trying to unseat longtime Republican U.S. Sen. Pat Roberts has apologized for posting X-ray photos of fatal gunshot wounds and medical injuries on his personal Facebook page several years ago, but he called the revelation about the images the work of a desperate incumbent.
In addition to the images, Milton Wolf also participated in online commentary layered with macabre jokes and descriptions of carnage, the Topeka Capital-Journal reported.
The report about the images, which came from hospitals in the Kansas City area on both sides of the state line, drew criticism from medical professionals around the region who called their display on social media irresponsible.
"The dignity and privacy of the individual should be protected," said John Carney, president of the Center for Practical Bioethics in Kansas City, Mo. "It doesn't sound like they're being protected if they're obviously on Facebook."
Carney said the summary of Wolf's postings provided to him would be viewed widely as "beyond alarming for a professional in the field of medicine."
In an interview, Wolf told the newspaper he received permission from patients when required before making use of records or images. He claimed usage, including Facebook posts, that didn't reveal an individual's identity didn't require prior authorization.
In a statement issued during the weekend, the Johnson County Republican asked for forgiveness from anyone who was offended by the images.
He also assailed Roberts for waging a war on doctors by telling people about them. The Capital-Journal's report did not say how the newspaper obtained the photos.
"Several years ago, I made some comments about these images that were insensitive to the seriousness of what the images revealed," Wolf said. "Soon thereafter, I removed those images and comments, again several years ago. For them to be published in a much more public context now, by a political adversary who would rather declare war on doctors than answer serious questions that Kansans have, is truly sad."
A news release by Wolf's campaign accused Roberts of participating in a misleading character attack in what it called "the most desperate move of any campaign in recent history."
He said the medical images -- including an X-ray of a man decapitated by gunfire -- were uploaded to social media sites and other online venues for educational purposes and they also served to demonstrate the evil lurking in the world.
But an array of professionals involved in medical ethics condemned his airing of the information outside the confines of a doctor-to-doctor consultation, or for the purpose of formal medical research or textbook construction.