Consumer Health Digest #09-34
Your Weekly Update of News and Reviews
August 20, 2009
Consumer Health Digest is a free weekly e-mail newsletter edited by Stephen Barrett, M.D., and cosponsored by NCAHF and Quackwatch. It summarizes scientific reports; legislative developments; enforcement actions; news reports; Web site evaluations; recommended and nonrecommended books; and other information relevant to consumer protection and consumer decision-making.
Another NICO-related suit filed. Alireza Panahpour, D.D.S., Leigh Erin Connealy, M.D., Connealy's South Coast Medical Center for New Medicine, oral pathologist Jerry E. Bouquot, D.D.S., and the University of Texas are being sued for negligence in connection with the treatment of a woman who sought hormonal treatment at the center. The complaint states:
- The woman visited Connealy's center in 2007 for a consultation about bio-identical hormones and was introduced to Panahpour by the medical staff. After conducting a dental examination, Panahpour falsely advised the woman that she had mercury poisoning and required (a) removal of two teeth and all of her amalgam fillings, (b) repair of previous root-canal treated teeth that were badly infected, and (c) surgery to remove bone fragments from two sites where wisdom teeth had been extracted 45 years earlier.
- After removing 16 amalgam fillings, Panahpour restored four with composite material and shaved down the rest and fitted them with expensive porcelain inlays and onlays.
- After falsely telling the woman she had "osteomyelitis," Panahpour removed significant amounts of bone tissue from two areas of her jaw and treated her with (a) intravenous solutions containing various vitamins and minerals and (b) procaine injections into her chest and upper breast.
- Panahpour's treatment resulted in (a) infections that required medical treatment and additional surgery, (b) pain in the mouth and teeth, and ≠≠(c) difficulty chewing and misalignment of the jaws because the crowns and other restorations did were too large.
- After Panahpour had completed his treatment, he sent specimens of bone and other tissue to Bouquot who made invalid and inaccurate diagnoses in his laboratory at the University of Texas.
Panahpour and Bouquot are part of a small network of practitioners who are prone to diagnose and "treat" nonexistent jaw problems. The treatment can be very destructive. Quackwatch has additional information about this.
Remaining Omnibus decisions upheld. The U.S. Court of Federal Claims has affirmed the Special Master's decisions that the families of Colten Snyder and Michelle Cedillo had presented no credible evidence that vaccination had caused him to develop autism. The decision is part of the Autism Omnibus Proceeding in which more than 5,000 families who claim that vaccines caused their children to become autistic are seeking compensation under the National Vaccine Injury Compensation Program (VICP). In February 2009, Special Masters ruled in these cases and one other selected to test how similar cases should be handled. The decisions completely debunked the alleged vaccine/autism connection and implied that the doctors who promote them are acting unethically. Autism-Watch has posted key findings and links to the hearing transcripts and decisions.
Australian cancer quack curbed. The Brisbane Supreme Court has ordered Jillian Newlands to pay a $12,000 fine and stop claiming that she is able to cure or benefit any person suffering from cancer. [Lawler P. Unregistered Australian health provider ordered to stop misleading cancer patients. Queensland Minister for Tourism and Fair Trading news release, April 23, 2009] Government action was spurred by an undercover TV investigation that exposed what she was doing.
Insurance fraud ring participants receive prison sentences. Mike Williams Tosca Martinez, Nhon Nguyen, Jacqueline Gonzalez, D.C., Christina Lapp, D.C., and another chiropractor have received prison sentences related to improper billing of insurance companies. At various times between 2002 and 2006, the defendants operated seven clinics in Southern Florida. To execute the scheme, Martinez and Nguyen arranged to solicit real victims of automobile accidents and individuals participating in "staged" accidents to visit the clinics. Fifteen insurance companies were billed for nonexistent and inflated personal injuries and made at least $3,428,851 in payments.
The participants were not equally involved. Martinez, who organized the ring, pled guilty in federal court to conspiracy to commit health care fraud, money laundering, and fraudulent use of another person's social security number, was sentenced to 14 years’ imprisonment, to be followed by 3 years of supervised release. Nguyen pled guilty to conspiracy to commit health care fraud and money laundering, and was sentenced to 30 months in prison. The chiropractors each pled guilty to obstruction of a criminal investigation of health care offenses and making false statements to agents. Gonzalez was sentenced to 15 months in prison. Lapp received a 1-year sentence. The third chiropractor, who worked at two of the clinics for about eleven months, received a 6-month sentence. In a telephone conversation, she told Dr. Stephen Barrett that she was not involved in any patient solicitation and that when she learned about the "staged" accidents, she quit immediately. The court also ordered forfeiture of the $3.4 million. The chiropractors were subsequently disciplined by the Florida Department of Health. [Barrett S. Fraud ring organizers and three chiropractors get prison sentences. Chirobase, updated November 8, 2010]
This page was revised on November 8, 2010.