As the opioid epidemic increases, all eyes are on medical professionals to tighten up operations, dot every ‘i’ and cross every ‘t’.
However, some don’t play by the rules.
State prosecutors have filed an accusation against a San Luis Obispo internist for having unlicensed employees work and perform medical procedures. She was even accused of ordering narcotics in her own name to give patients. Along with that, she was also accused of neglecting her patients.
For several years, multiple patients and former staff have reported allegations of medical wrongdoing by Laleh Shaban M.D. to the Medical Board of California. This launched an investigation that focused on the treatment of five patients and resulted in six causes for discipline.
If found guilty, Shaban will face having her license suspended or revoked.
Shaban had been running the Revive Medical Group, which recently moved from Morro Bay to San Luis Obispo, where she offers multiple services including weight loss, stem cell therapy, skincare, genitalia rejuvenation, concierge services, and IV infusion therapy.
Past employees had filed complaints against Shaban, stating that she forced them to up-sell a range of highly-priced therapies. “She tried to get nurses to up-sell patients with products,” said Sara Jorgensen, a registered nurse that used to work for Shaban. “It was not patient-centric care, it was profit motivated.”
A former office manager, who asked to remain anonymous, said Shaban would dilute Botox treatments to embellish profits, dosing many patients with a half-dose, but charging for a full-dose. After one patient complained that she did not receive the full-dose, she was given another half-dose, and according to the former manager, the patient then suffered for months with a drooping eye and a swollen forehead.
In the prosecutor’s allegations they listed the patients by numbers, and the non-licensed staff doing medical procedures by their initials.
For $3,500 a year, Shaban offers her patients a concierge package that includes a range of services such as same-day appointments, more personal contact with the doctor, and discounts on additional services such as cosmetic procedures and weight loss.
In November 2017, Patient 1 went to see Shaban for a Botox treatment. The nurse practitioner recommended Dysport, a different toxin treatment, the patient trusted the advice and agreed to move forward. Dysport costs the provider about half the price per unit of Botox.
However, the nurse practitioner failed to inform Patient 1 about possible side effects from Dysport, nor did she get written consent for treatment. Then, according to the allegations, the patient suffered side effects.
Patient 2 signed up for the concierge package. She met with the doctor and agreed to have “brain mapping,” also known as an EEG. Shaban directed an employee without a medical license to perform the procedure. Patient 2 then suffered, what she initially thought was a reaction to the gel used during the EEG, even though she’d provided information about her allergy to Shaban, according to prosecutors.
Bedridden and suffering with a twitching eye, Patient 2 asked to speak with Shaban. Several staffers said that instead of calling her patient back, Shaban returned her concierge fee and terminated her as a client.
As reported by prosecutors, Patient 3 was another concierge patient who Shaban suggested should receive a number of medical treatments, which were administered by non-licensed staff.
Shaban prescribed Patient 4 multiple medications for knee pain including opioids for three years, despite his orthopedic surgeon having told him to take ibuprofen until he underwent a needed surgery.
Prosecutors charged Shaban with gross negligence in her treatment of Patient 5, a woman with a history of lung disease, recurrent pneumonia, and bacterial infections. Who was diagnosed with Addison’s disease, by Shaban, without having ever performed the required tests to confirm the diagnosis. Shaban then failed to refer Patient 5 to an endocrinologist, according to prosecutors’ allegations.
In their accusations, prosecutors charged Shaban with repeated acts of negligence, gross negligence, assisting in the unlicensed practice of medicine, failure to maintain records of drugs provided to patients, drug violations, and general unprofessional conduct.
In addition to the alleged medical board violations, a number of past employees accused Shaban of creating a hostile workplace and failing to provide breaks as required by law, asking employees to perform medical procedures they were not licensed to do, and to take out prescriptions in their own names for medications Shaban gave to her patients.
The registered nurse who worked for Shaban, Sara Jorgensen, returned from maternity leave to the Revive Medical Group only to find that her position had been filled, and she would be working in another area. Seven months later, Shaban terminated Jorgensen for “breastfeeding” her child, according to Jorgensen. “She was a terrible doctor to her patients and a terrible boss to her employees,” she stated.
Back In 2017, four violations against Revive Medical Group were lodged by the U.S. Department of Occupational Safety and Health Administration for unsafe work practices. Shaban paid four fines and the violations were resolved.
In the next few months, Shaban will have a chance to defend herself at a hearing in front of the Medical Board of California. And Despite being charged with six causes for discipline and could lose her license, she continues seeing patients today.
As always, everyone is innocent until proven guilty.