The Medical Board of California is stepping up investigations on people posing as doctors in order to reap profits from risky procedures, according to a recent report on ABC News 10. The investigative unit that targets these kinds of cases, called Operation Safe Medicine, has seen a near-doubling of cases over the past fiscal year – up to 61 from 31.
What types of cases has Operation Safe Medicine uncovered?
Fake medical professionals present many risks to their “patients,” and in many cases, people’s lives have been put at risk. In one case, a woman from Encinitas is accused of having posed as a doctor of naturopathy. After diagnosing patients with Lyme disease, she prescribed injections of bovine stem cells and dimethyl sulfoxide. After several infusions, one patient grew so ill that she was hospitalized for six weeks.
Another case involves a San Francisco man who is accused of performing liposuction while smoking a cigar. Prosecutors allege that the man operated with no assistant and had the client hold her own intravenous bag while he performed the procedure. There also been cases based on laser fungus removal, childbirth, facelifts, and hemorrhoid surgery.
What action is being taken against fake medical professionals?
The report released by the medical board calls for more staff to launch a unit in Northern California. The current Operation Safe Medicine is a six-person team based in Southern California. According to Jennifer Simoes, the medical board’s chief of legislation, “the Board believes that the OSM Unit is imperative in order to protect the public from the actions of unlicensed practitioners.”
How can Californians stay safe?
In the liposuction case, the accused had assumed the identity of the physician assistant with a similar name. Almost anyone can open a storefront and claim to be licensed or certified to perform medical procedures. Before seeking treatment with a medical professional, make sure that you check up on their qualifications, especially if you are not introduced to them through a professional referral. Above all, if the price seems too good to be true, it probably is.