Friday, February 08, 2008

Safe and legal in California

Abortion clinics operator is charged, Los Angeles Times, February 8, 2008

By the time paramedics arrived, the patient was lying in a pool of her own blood, her pulse racing and her blood pressure dangerously low.

The medical board documents identify the woman as Angela P. She had undergone what she expected to be a safe legal abortion at Clinica Medica Para la Mujer de Hoy in Santa Ana, California in the summer of 2004. The abortion was performed by Phillip Rand, then in his early 80s. Rand used a simple suction abortion, appropriate only for the first trimester, on Angela, though she was 20 weeks pregnant. Angela had been given no anesthesia or pain medications.

Angela P.'s experience was cited in a 2004 medical board accusation against Rand as "barbaric" and a "severe departure" from a reasonable standard of care. Rand surrendered his license in 2005.

Rand was one of at least six doctors with histories of malpractice complaints, addiction or medical board actions who were employed by a chain of Southern California abortion clinics, according to court and medical board records.

Bertha Bugarin, who manages the clinic and others in the chain, has been charged with five counts practicing medicine without a license in February and March of 2007. Her sister, Raquel Bugarin, has also been charged with related crimes.

A fictitious name statement from 1991 filed for the business lists Bertha Bugarin as the person behind Clinica Medica Para La Mujer de Hoy, although paperwork filed with the medical board lists Nicholas Braemer, a Torrance doctor who lost his license in 2000, as the sole registrant of the clinics between 1991 and 1999.

The chain had offices in "Baldwin Park, Huntington Park, Los Angeles and Panorama City, operating either under the name Clinica Medica Para La Mujer de Hoy or Community Women's Medical Clinic. Public records contain references to four more locations, in Chula Vista, North Hollywood, Torrance and Santa Ana. One clinic doctor said in a deposition for a 2002 malpractice suit that there were nine clinics."

The Los Angeles Times article noted "at least 12 personal injury and malpractice lawsuits and one wrongful death suit have been filed in Los Angeles County against Bertha Bugarin, the clinics or both." The wrongful death might be associated with a botched delivery by one of Bugarin's abortionists (see George Dalton Flanigan, below), but since this death took place at a hospital and not at one of the chain of abortion facilities, this seems unlikely.

The Times indicates that "Bugarin developed the clinics herself, hiring the doctors to work on an on-call basis." The doctors themselves are a rogues' gallery:

  • Nicholas Braemer, who sometimes appears on documents as an owner of the facilities, admitted to the medical board that in 1987 he initiated an abortion but only removed one arm of the fetus. The patient expelled the rest of the maimed fetus the following day. Braemer was put on probation with the board, but then violated the terms of his probation three times. In 1996, he left the cranium and placenta inside a patient, who had to be hospitalized for a month to have her bowel repaired and multiple abscesses drained. "Braemer surrendered his license in 2000, after a medical board investigation of several Clinica Medica clinics. Without a physician present, unlicensed receptionists performed ultrasounds on undercover investigators posing as patients, according to medical board records."

  • "Mohamed Dia, who surrendered his license in 1999. He admitted to the medical board that he used a van to bring a bleeding patient to a hospital after perforating her uterus and leaving part of the fetus in her body during a 1996 abortion at Clinica Medica."

  • "Laurence Reich, who surrendered his license in 2006 after pleading no contest to misdemeanor criminal charges of sexually exploiting two patients during abortions in 2000 at clinics not associated with Bugarin. His conviction was expunged in 2004 after he completed a yearlong probationary period and paid the court a $100 restitution fine, according to a Van Nuys court file." One patient reported that Reich groped her breasts during an abortion. "An earlier board accusation in 1982 had accused Reich of sexual abuse in three cases in 1981 and 1979. Reich asked the women to masturbate and rubbed their genital areas, according to the accusation, which led the board to put Reich on probation for 10 years until 1994."

  • "Glenn Edward Miller, an admitted alcoholic whose license was revoked by the medical board in 2005 due to repeated substance abuse relapses. Miller was on probation for performing obstetrical procedures while under the influence of alcohol when he began working in Bugarin clinics in about 2003, according to board records." Miller and Rand settled a suit filed by a woman they performed an abortion on, even though she was not pregnant. She suffered a ruptured uterus.

  • "George Dalton Flanigan, who was hired as an independent contractor at five Bugarin clinics in 2002, according to court documents. That same year, at an unnamed hospital, he delivered a dead baby using a vacuum procedure after refusing to perform a cesarean section, according to a board accusation that led to a 2007 decision to put him on probation for five years." After reading the medical board documents myself, it is pretty clear that it was Flanigan's quackery that caused the baby's death. He persisted in attempting to use a vacuum forceps in the face of contraindications, causing fatal brain damage to the infant.

    I am currently working on downloading copies of the medical board documents. I'll write them up and make them available for your perusal. You won't have to take my word for any of it; you'll be able to check it yourself.

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  • 1 comment:

    Anonymous said...

    Disgraced doctor charged again
    Gynecologist convicted in sex case arrested for illegal practice
    By Rick Coca, Staff Writer
    Article Last Updated: 02/22/2008 09:09:37 PM PST

    A gynecologist who surrendered his medical license in 2005 after being convicted of sexually exploiting patients has been charged with three felony counts of practicing medicine without certification.
    Laurence Reich, 62, was arrested and released from custody last week after posting a $60,000 bond, said Sandi Gibbons, spokeswoman for the Los Angeles County District Attorney's Office.

    Although a protective order has been issued in the case, it is related to the arrest last summer of Bertha Bugarin, 48, the manager of at least six abortion clinics throughout Southern California, including one in Panorama City, where Reich was allegedly performing "unlicensed medical procedures," a source said.

    Reich, an unlicensed osteopathic physician, was arrested following an investigation by the Los Angeles County Sheriff's Department and the Health Authority Task Force, a multiagency county arm that investigates the illegal practice of medicine and other health-related crimes.

    Repeated calls to Reich were not returned.

    In August 2007, authorities served search warrants at the clinics - Clinica Medica Para La Mujer De Hoy or Community Medical Clinic for Today's Woman - with locations in Baldwin Park, Chula Vista, Huntington Park, Los Angeles, Panorama City and San Diego.

    For Reich, this isn't the first time he's faced criminal charges.

    In December 2002, after two former patients accused him of touching them inappropriately and



    asking inappropriate sexual questions, Reich entered a no-contest plea of misdemeanor exploitation of patients, which is equivalent to a guilty plea in a criminal case.
    Reich was sentenced to a day in jail and a year's probation, but was allowed to continue his practice while awaiting a disciplinary hearing delayed by bureaucratic wrangling.

    The governor-appointed Osteopathic Medical Board of California investigates consumer complaints but does not have the authority to suspend a physician's license. The state Attorney General's Office prosecutes disciplinary matters before an administrative law judge.

    Following a Daily News report showing that Reich continued to practice long after his no-contest plea, Reich surrendered his medical license Feb. 14, 2005.

    In 1984, Reich was placed on medical probation for a decade by the board after allegations by six women, four accusing of him of sexual impropriety and two of incompetence. During his probation, he was required to have a nurse present while treating patients, court records show.

    In the latest charges, Reich faces a maximum sentence of four years, four months in state prison if found guilty.

    The three days that prosecutors allege that Reich committed his offenses in 2007 - Feb. 24, March 1 and March 3 - are also among those listed in the criminal complaint brought against Bertha Bugarin.

    Bugarin faces 16 felony counts of practicing medicine without certification and other misdemeanor charges. Her sister, Raquel Bugarin, 50, has been charged with six felony counts of practicing medicine without certification. The pair have pleaded not guilty to all charges.

    If convicted on all counts the sisters face "significant jail time," Gibbons said.

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