The Shadow Practice, Part 8: How one California clinic became a magnet for bad medicine
In March, Antidote launched a series called The Shadow Practice that reported on a network of shady physicians operating below the radar of most state and federal regulators, often catering to immigrants and offering cash-only services like painkiller prescriptions, cheap cosmetic procedures and quick abortions.
One of the medical offices in this network has had a revolving door of dangerous doctors: 145 S. Chaparral Court in Anaheim. It has been the host to many doctors and clinics over the years and had more name changes than a Russian spy: Anaheim Hills Surgery Center, Anaheim Hills Surgery & Skin Care Center, The Rheinschild Clinic, Hills Surgical Institute, Global Medical Surgical Center, and Rutland Medical Group.
Over the next few weeks, Antidote will attempt to explore further the people and practices that have left their mark on the office.
The office's history of problems began when it was the primary place of business for Dr. Andrew Rutland, an ob-gyn that Antidote has covered before. He lost his license after a series of bad patient outcomes, including two infants who died in his care and another infant who was injured. After a five-year stint without a license, he appealed to the Medical Board of California and was granted a new license in 2007.
Two years later, Ying Chen, a 30-year-old Chinese immigrant, died after Rutland gave her the wrong dose of anesthesia during an abortion at an unlicensed clinic in San Gabriel. That case has been declared a homicide by the Los Angeles County Department of Coroner. The California medical board, after several judicial setbacks, is continuing to try to take Rutland's license away, and will next make its case before an administrative law judge in February.
Rutland was only the beginning.
Over the next few weeks, Antidote will explore the circumstances surrounding:
• A patient who went into a Chaparral Court clinic for multiple surgical procedures and died
• A doctor who took advantage of women who came in seeking treatment
• A series of botched surgeries that left patients permanently injured
• How this office has remained a viable medical operation despite these events
As the series progresses, Antidote will add these stories, and their very real characters, to a Shadow Practice map created for the series to help readers visualize how this network has spread throughout California.
Some of these stories, like the Rutland saga, have been the subject of media coverage. Others have been missed. In continuing The Shadow Practice, Antidote will attempt to show consumers and journalists how to ask tough questions of their medical providers, how to use public records to uncover problems, and how to look for patterns. As I explained in my Fraud Fishing posts over the last two months, if you have doubts about one provider, check their partners.
As the goings-on at Chaparral Court will show, bad medicine tends to cluster.