Jim Porter: Botched liposuction leads to manslaughter (opinion)
If you’re contemplating having a liposuction procedure, you may not want to read this Law Review. In any event, don’t go to Dr. Ehab Aly Mohamed, although that would be hard to do. You would have to visit him in state prison.
‘Cutting Edge’ Liposuction
Dr. Ehab Aly Mohamed was a board certified gynecologist who practiced cosmetic surgery out of his Encino office, relying on “cutting edge” technology as he put it.
Here’s some of the equipment that was not in his medical office: EKG machine, pulse oximeter, backup oxygen, backup power supply and a “crash cart.” The good doctor had only a limited supply of drugs to reverse the effects of narcotics which he dispensed freely; nor did he employ any certified advanced cardiac life support personnel, nor did he have an anesthesiologist, nurse anesthetist or even a licensed nurse.
Now that’s the kind of doctor I want to go to for my facial work.
Botched Surgery No. 1
Zackie Handy went to see Dr. M about a treatment to reduce the wrinkles on her face even though she was 77 years old when wrinkles are not all that uncommon. I have one or two – and I’m only 50 … or so.
The good Dr. M convinced Zackie to remove fat from just about every part of her body noting the treatment was “tax deductible and would reduce the risk of heart attack and Alzheimer’s, and lower cholesterol ‘by a lot’, and add 20 years to your life.” Of course.
Dr. M told Zackie she would get a discount because she would be part of a “Harvard study,” but he managed to collect $100,000 before the procedure. What a deal.
During her procedure he gave her all sorts of drugs and poor Zackie woke up to find her face “blotchy and lumpy” from fillers injected into her lip, chin, eyelids and eyebrows.
Long story short, she stopped payment on some of her checks and reported Dr. M to the California Medical Board.
Botched Procedure No. 2
Sharon Carpenter, age 61, got the same “Harvard study” discount and also paid $100,000. She went through an 11-hour procedure, was given more drugs than you can imagine, and when things were not going well, Dr. M called a hospital across the street seeking to borrow emergency medical supplies, which request was refused.
Around 11 hours into the liposuction, Carpenter’s breathing was shallow, finally there was no pulse and Dr. M began CPR and called the paramedics who were unable to revive the patient.
Ehab Aly Mohamed was charged and ultimately convicted of involuntary manslaughter and elder abuse. He appealed.
The Senior Deputy Medical Examiner for the Los Angeles County Coroner testified that the cause of death was opioid toxicity from lidocaine, fentanyl and oxycodone.
Another expert doctor testified that Carpenter’s liposuction constituted “extreme negligence”, a “terrible departure from the standard of care,” and violated California regulations governing liposuction procedures as well as guidelines put out by the American Society of Anesthesiologists. Dr. M was unaware of the guidelines and regulations of the California Medical Board, as he testified.
The key legal issue in the case was whether Dr. M’s assistant “Nurse Judy” Evans’ testimony alone was sufficient to uphold the involuntary manslaughter conviction. Dr. M claimed Nurse Judy, who in fact was not a nurse, was an “accomplice” whose testimony had to corroborated. The Court of Appeal disagreed, concluding Dr. Mohamed’s testimony in court was enough to convince anyone, including the trial judge, he was criminally negligent.
Dr. M received some of his own medicine and now has plenty of time to think about the consequences of his incompetence.
Jim Porter is an attorney with Porter Simon licensed in California and Nevada, with offices in Truckee, Tahoe City and Reno. Jim’s practice areas include: real estate, development, construction, business, HOAs, contracts, personal injury, accidents, mediation and other transactional matters. He may be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or http://www.portersimon.com.