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California doctor, PA under investigation for poor patient care

An anesthesiologist and a physician assistant are being investigated by the California State Attorney General's Office due to their dubious behavior at their University City outpatient liposuction business. As a team, the pair allegedly provided poor patient care. Four patients submitted complaints after liposuction procedures at Pacific Liposculpture left them with pain at the location where fat was removed.

According to the allegations, the anesthesiologist failed to properly supervise the physician assistant and was generally absent during the physician assistant's surgical procedures. Additionally, the anesthesiologist was not involved in post-operative care, or pre-surgical workups and did not actually perform any liposuction procedures.

There are also contentions that the team misconstrued their level of experience regarding weight-reducing surgery. According to state investigators, the anesthesiologist simply took a weekend course about liposuction procedures, and his skills and experience did not reflect the specialized liposuction expertise advertised. Additionally, the facility's promotional materials were deceptive and led patients to believe that the physician assistant was a doctor, as the website and other materials identified him as "director of surgery."

Under California law, assistants may perform procedures without doctors physically present, but doctors must regularly review assistants' work. Doctors may not delegate assistants to do work outside of the doctors' own specialties. Assistants who encounter problems with which they need assistance are expected to ask for help from their supervising doctors, as well. According to California investigators, the anesthesiologist and physician assistant under investigation here were not following these practices.

Both men will have hearings to evaluate their actions, and, if it is determined at their respective hearings that there was medical error in their practices, they may face loss of their medical licenses. These hearings will help determine whether these medical providers committed medical malpractice in treating their patients, which could be an advantage for those victims who wish to seek compensation via a lawsuit.

Source: The San Diego Union-Tribune, "Doctor, PA at liposuction office face discipline," Paul Sisson, Feb. 14, 2016

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