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Shadow Practice

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Dr. Scott Bickman lost his California medical license, but not before federal, state and local authorities missed numerous chances to prevent harm to patients. Do we need an Amber Alert for dangerous, back-alley clinics?

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By the time the San Gabriel police caught up with Dr. Lars Hanson, he was half-naked, locked in his car and refusing to answer questions about a patient who had been sent to the ER from his unlicensed abortion clinic. So why is he only getting a slap on the wrist from California's medical board?

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When a company tries to mimic a well-known and respected brand, health journalists should be suspicious. Consider The Harvard Drug Group. Most people hearing about a pharmaceutical wholesaler with that name might assume that it was affiliated with Harvard University. It's not.

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The new filing by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency against Dr. Scott Bickman for his role in a California painkiller mill reveals a very sad truth. Maria Garcia’s death could almost certainly have been avoided.

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Maria Garcia’s death after a cosmetic surgery procedure at Anaheim Hills Surgery Center has so far failed to roust the Joint Commission or the Orange County district at

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Prior to 2007, a clinic like Anaheim Hills Surgery Center could have been penalized or even shut down by the state of California. One court ruling changed that, allowin

Picture of William Heisel

The surgeons at Anaheim Hills Surgery Center had to be sweating.

The Joint Commission, one of the most powerful arbiters of whether a health center is deemed worthy of federal funding, showed up at the surgery center’s doorstep in April 2008 to review its records, its practices and its sta

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When Dr. Harrell Robinson walked into the surgical suite to start a liposuction procedure on Maria Garcia he was already in a world of trouble.

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Maria Garcia smoked.

That was her one big vice, according to her brother and her estranged husband.

This otherwise healthy 39-year-old visited the doctors at Hills Surgical Center in Anaheim because she didn’t like the way she looked. To remedy that, the surgeons scheduled a series

Picture of William Heisel

One doctor allowed her clinics in Santa Ana, California, to be used as front operations for selling highly addictive painkillers.

Another doctor agreed to be paid $2,000 a month for the use of his registration with the DEA so that the front operations could keep up their supply.

Another doctor was willing to rent his registration for half that.

All of them were caught red-handed by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Agency. Medical Board of California investigations are not made public, but, so far, none of them have been disciplined in California.

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