Medical board investigates more fake doctors

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California is considering expanding investigations by the state medical board to combat the disturbing trend of fake doctors, California Watch reported.

Called Operation Safe Medicine, the medical board's investigative unit was established in 2000, but it disbanded three years later because of budget issues. In 2009, however, the investigative board reopened due to public cries about unlicensed persons practicing as providers.

For instance, Carlos Guzmangarza of San Francisco who operated a dermatology clinic in April faced charges of practicing medicine without a license, stealing the identity of a physician's assistant and causing bodily harm to nine victims, according to authorities.

In a separate case in August, law enforcement arrested Kathleen Ann Helms of Encinitas for allegedly misrepresenting herself as a doctor of naturopathy, which resulted in bodily injury, as well as grand theft. Helms allegedly diagnosed a patient with Lyme disease and prescribed a treatment plan of central-line injections through IV, which later resulted in hospitalization of the patient, according to an Aug. 14 FBI statement.

Operation Safe Medicine sent 61 cases to prosecutors for review for the fiscal year ending in June, up from 31 cases the previous year. Since 2009, Operation Safe Medicine's investigations have resulted in six felony convictions and 18 misdemeanor convictions, California Watch noted.

"It is especially noteworthy to see the 203 percent increase in cases referred for criminal action due in large part to the re-establishment of the Operations Safe Medicine Unit," the state report explained about the numbers from 2006 to 2012.
 
For more information:
- check out the report (.pdf)
- see the California Watch article
- here's the San Francisco DA statement
- see the FBI statement

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