Ken Leighton 5 p.m., Jan. 24
High-profile Coronado plastic surgeon draws yet another complaint from California Medical Board
A Coronado plastic surgeon has accused state medical regulators of unfairly targeting his high-profile practice after the Medical Board of California filed another in a series of accusations against him.
"They are after me," Dr. Jeffry Schafer said in a recent telephone interview. "They are just nit-picking. It justifies their being."
The latest of three accusations filed against Schafer by the board, lodged July 16, alleges that Schafer, who operates New Image Cosmetic Surgery, violated the terms of a 2008 probation agreement by allowing a physician's assistant to perform certain medical procedures in his office.
"Preparing a patient for liposuction...by, among other things, inserting an IV line and administering sedation both before and during surgery constitutes 'preparation of the patient prior to liposculpture,'" which the accusation says is banned by the probation agreement.
In addition, the document alleges, Schafer "failed to perform a thorough physical examination" of a patient "prior to conducting surgery on her, including making a thorough assessment of her abdominal skin, fat excess and muscle laxity; alternatively, [Schafer] failed to document that any such physical examination had been performed."
Schafer, who has appeared on local television, including KUSI's "Good Morning, San Diego", promoting what he calls "green cosmetic surgery," has long been a doctor of interest to the medical board.
The state filed its first accusation against the physician in October 2007, charging Schafer with "gross negligence" in the handling of a case in which he "allowed his Physician Assistant to perform an excisional biopsy of the patient," and failed to "discuss, or document discussing, with the patient either performing a repeat biopsy or the possibility the lesion was pre-cancerous."
Schafer, the complaint said, "testified both in his deposition and in his summary of care that he provided to the Medical Board that he had performed the biopsy, however, he stated during his Medical Board interview that his Physician Assistant performed the biopsy."
According to a May 22, 2008 stipulated agreement, Schafer agreed to a three year probation period during which he was required to take courses in ethics and medical record-keeping, complete a clinical training program, and to "obey all laws" governing the practice of medicine.
In return, the medical board agreed to stay the revocation of his medical license.
On January 2009, the board filed another accusation and entered into another stipulated agreement, dated February 19, 2010, in which Schafer agreed to probation terms similar to those of the first agreement, with the addition of new requirements, including monitoring of his practice and limits on his use of physician assistants. His probationary period was extended two years, until July 22, 2013.
The 2009 complaint alleged that Schafer had been "grossly negligent" in his care of four patients "by allowing the physician assistant to perform cosmetic surgery and non-licensed personnel to perform duties outside of their scope of practice," and "by altering medical records in order to deceive."
According to allegations made in the accusation, Schafer "walked around in his bloody scrubs and there would be blood all over the floors and carpets. Food is left in areas where there are tubs of fat, and in areas where surgical dressing is applied on post-operative patients. Patient files are piled everywhere, left on top of trash cans and not well maintained."
Schafer said in last week's phone interview that his attorney was discussing the latest complaint with medical board staff and he expected to meet with regulators for further discussions before the matter goes to the full board.
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