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Posts Tagged ‘fake doctors’

Syringe of unknown contents

 

 

 

Dr. Fix-a-flat (Oneal Morris) in Ft. Lauderdale, Florida has been re-arrested as more victims of his scam surgeries have come forward.

This arrest comes as other American cities, (most notably, Las Vegas) make a concerted push to protect consumers with a new campaign against fraudulent practices and unlicensed physicians.  However, these ‘campaigns’ are primarily informational commercials aimed at the Latino community.

There is a new statewide task force aimed at addressing these incidents, but as of yet – there have been no legislative changes to protect victims of these scams.  Equally disturbing, in at least one of these cases – one of the pretend doctors used his fake status to sexually assault his victims.

In another disturbing sidenote out of Nevada – Teva pharmaceuticals settled a case against them for the distribution of propofol outside of proper channels/ and in improper quantities.  (If you remember, this is how Dr. Conrad Murray obtained the anesthetic for use on Michael Jackson.)  As a result of this distribution of multi-use medications that should be exclusively used in hospital settings – several patients were inadvertently exposed to Hepatitis C (including the plaintiff who developed Hepatitis C as a result.)

[Multi-use vials mean that the same container of medication is used for multiple people – if the medication is drawn up using needles or other instruments that have already been exposed to patients – this places future patients in contact with blood and infectious agents.]   Multi-use vials are a cost-containment measure for many institutions.

I hope that someone takes issue with out-patient colonoscopies as a whole since this in itself can be a very dangerous practice – and the research proves it.  (The issue behind outpatient procedures such as colonoscopies is the use of unmonitored anesthesia.  Most patients aren’t on monitors, no anesthesiologist is present, and the doctors performing the procedure are often unprepared in the event that a patient loses his airway (or stops breathing.)  There was a landmark study several years ago – that showed that 70% of nonaesthesiologists underestimated the level of sedation in patients undergoing out-patient / office procedures.  [I will continue looking for the link to this source.]

Frighteningly, a related paper demonstrated similar findings in a pediatric population.  This South African paper voices similar concerns.

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Look at the facial deformities of one of the “Fix-a-flat” fake doctor’s earlier victims.  This story, which was picked up by multiple news outlets, is just one of the many stories authorities are hearing as more and more victims (aka ‘patients’) of the cement injecting doctor come forward.

I won’t insult readers by making snarky comments or mouthing sanctimonious “love yourself” type platitudes – those sort of attitudes certainly don’t help – nor encourage victims of this sort of fraudulent treatments to come forward.

Instead I will continue to post stories about these cases, along with advice to help people find qualified surgeons, and interviews of some of the many, many wonderful and talented surgeons out there.

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Here’s a link to another heartbreaking story, of a person who was taken in by a fraudulent medical practitioner. In this story, the patient initially began seeing this uncredentialled/ unlicensed ‘alternative healer’ for a chronic pain condition because she didn’t have insurance. We’ve talked about unlicensed / fraudulent practitioners before, (usually pretending to be surgeons) and how to research to make sure your doctor is a licensed surgeon. Today we are going to review a case and talk about the clues that may indicate that the practitioner  is not a legitimate, licensed health care provider.

(Read the article first – then come back here to discuss).

However, while reading this article – several warning bells should go off:

He claims to ‘intuitively’ know what is wrong with people just by looking at them.
This is extremely far fetched to begin with. Even the best doctors in the world use tests, and instruments to help them assess and evaluate patients. No one just ‘knows”.

He is not licensed.
Regardless of what you might think regarding the validity of different alternative health practices – most states have established regulatory boards to oversee practitioners of alternative health (acupuncture, massage, reiki etc.) The boards require practitioners to provide evidence of formalized education and training, and have been established to protect the public from
abuses similar to what is described in the attached article.

In this case, he claimed his license was being ‘processed’ yet he had been treating a number of
people the patient knew over the course of an extended period of time. Licenses don’t take years – and in many cases license boards issue temporary licenses almost immediately after application – so that should have been a red flag..

He does not have an ‘office’.

This person provided ‘treatments’ in the basement of a Chinese restaurant – similar to previously presented cases of patients having surgery in motel rooms, garages, and apartments. Legitimate practitioners have offices. Granted, the office may be small, or attached to their home but an official office nonetheless. The office should be well marked with a sign or
signs on the outside, and listed in the yellow pages. A hidden ‘office’ in an unmarked area of another business should make you suspicious. He later upgraded to a set of rooms, with a website but the website – breaks another rule we talked about in a previous post – Avoid anonymous blogs/ anonymous websites.

Prescribes “sketchy” treatments of dubious value – (particularly if involving exposure or manipulation of genitalia.)  You don’t need to have medical training to question the use of ‘rectal penetration’ for the treatment of ‘pre-diabetes’ like the patient
reported in the above mentioned article. In fact, I would advise anyone to question any ‘health’ provider that wants to manipulate or examine your genitals (outside of an OB/GYN office). This is often done because quack /fraudulent practitioners know that personal embarrassment will prevent many of their patients from complaining or reporting them once they realize they’ve been duped. (People are often too ashamed to admit that their trust was breeched in such an intimate and personal way.)

If the ‘doctor’ wants to touch you somewhere that makes you uncomfortable  – particularly for a seemingly unrelated complaint like diabetes, neuralgias or migraines – pull your pants up and get the heck out of there.

There is no definitive treatment plan (or it’s an endless treatment plan) – this is
more important when talking about physical treatments such as chiropractic or ‘adjustment’ therapies. There should be a planned amount of sessions (i.e. 10treatments, for example) not an endless cycle of treatments. This should be clear at the first or second visit. Part of legitimate therapy is adjusting the treatment plan to the person’s response – but if looks like it is endless –
consider seeking a second opinion.   Also – talk to other patients – are they all doing more than the original set of treatment? If everyone you know is still receiving on-going treatment, you should re-assess how it effective it really is.

It’s a panacea treatment – we talked about this a little in the paragraph above, but no one treatment cures all ailments, and very few treatments ‘cure’ systemic diseases. Any ‘cure’ claims should be specifically investigated.

Take diabetes for example – there is no non-surgical ‘cure’ for diabetes, and the existing surgical treatment is well-publicized, well documented and well researched (and reported in reputable medical journals). There are no ‘secret cures’ that are known to just a few select practitioners. If someone is advertising a ‘miracle cure’ or a ‘cure’ that only they have – a red flag should immediately go up… Legitimate / valid medical therapies are not advertised in the back of tabloid newspapers, or in small print.

Legitimate practices are backed by hard science** , clinical data and randomized control trials (RCTs).  (RCTs are the gold standard for evaluating and establishing a pattern of causality (A leads to B). Without this data -anything a provider presents as a claim, is suspect.

** Not chakras, ‘spiritual’ sources or mystical effects.

This isn’t to say that ‘alternative medicine’ doesn’t have a place in today’s health care system – but there is a huge difference between alicensed massage therapist / acupuncturist/ etc. and someone who sets out a shingle and suddenly claims to be an alternative health provider without the appropriate training / background.  Legitimate providers would want to prevent their specialty from quackery and frauds are among the most ardent supporters of government regulatory boards to protect their patients.

In other news – I have re-posted the article series on carotid stenosis to Yahoo! Associated Content – so if you get a minute – take a look – so the article gets some views..  (If I get enough views, I will write some more articles for Yahoo!)

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