The state medical board has investigated a mounting number of people posing as doctors and offering risky treatments, including a San Francisco man who performed liposuction while smoking a cigar and a San Diego woman who sickened a patient with lengthy IV infusion treatments.
The Medical Board of California reported that its unit that investigates lay people posing as medical professionals, called Operation Safe Medicine, sent 61 cases to prosecutors for review for the fiscal year ending in June, up from 31 cases the year before.
The numbers were released Friday in the Sunset Review Report, a comprehensive review of medical board operations over recent years. The report, which is issued when the board’s charter is set to be renewed by lawmakers, calls for more staff to launch a Northern California unit in addition to the existing six-person Southern California Operation Safe Medicine team.
“The Board believes that the OSM Unit is imperative in order to protect the public from the actions of unlicensed practitioners,” Jennifer Simoes, the medical board's chief of legislation, said in a statement. “OSM staff has the specialized training and expertise necessary to address the continued proliferation of unlicensed cases.”
In one case, an Encinitas woman, Kathleen Ann Helms, represented herself as a doctor of naturopathy at an office called BrightHouse Wellness.