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Licensed for Life: Nearing 90, Doctor Finally Strikes Out (for Now)

Licensed for Life: Nearing 90, Doctor Finally Strikes Out (for Now)

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The Medical Board of California must be reading one of those parenting books. The board has developed a seemingly unlimited amount of patience with the disobedience of some of its licensees.

Case in point: Dr. Lawrence Hansen.

As I noted before, Hansen graduated from medical school in 1959. While in his 80s and still practicing complicated surgical procedures, Hansen performed surgery on Maria Garcia, 39. During the surgery, her vaginal wall was punctured, according to the Orange County coroner. The puncture was apparently not noticed, and while still under anesthesia from Hansen’s procedure, Garcia  underwent liposuction by one of Hansen’s colleagues at an Anaheim Hills surgery center. She experienced respiratory distress and then bled to death.

When attorneys for Garcia’s family and investigators for the Medical Board of California interviewed Hansen, he “was unable to recall the procedure he had performed,” the board wrote. The board took the facts of Garcia’s death under consideration and decided in February 2011 that Hansen should stop performing surgical procedures. He was placed on probation for three years and ordered to undergo a clinical assessment of his skills and to enroll in a training program within 60 days.

His previous work continued to catch up with him. In 2012, he and two other colleagues lost a malpractice lawsuit over a botched abortion that resulted in a $6.2 million judgment.

Unable to make money doing surgeries, Hansen went to work for an unauthorized medical marijuana dispenser, Kush Doctor in Venice, California.  A video on the company’s website claims, “More marijuana = less cancer.” It also features an elderly doctor chatting with a series of young women in his office and asking, “Where do we do the pelvic exam?”

After some undercover visits to Kush Doctor, the Medical Board shut down the clinic in April 2011 and charged Hansen in March 2012 with dishonest or corrupt acts, aiding or abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine and unprofessional conduct.

But what about that clinical training program, which Hansen should have started by April 2011? The medical board told Hansen in February 2011 that if he didn’t complete that program, he would lose his license.

I know this gets kind of confusing. You might wonder how the medical board could put a doctor on probation for one set of problems and then charge him for another set of problems without checking to see if he had been complying with the terms of his probation. But that is apparently what happened.

It wasn’t 60 days later that the board checked to see if Hansen had done what the board had ordered. It wasn’t six months later. It was nearly two years to the day after the board first put Hansen on probation that it finally issued a “cease practice order.” Hansen’s license is now suspended.

Don’t reset your clocks yet, medical board watchers. Hansen still has the right  to  practice medicine again some day. All he has to do is go back and take that clinical training program. The last line of the cease practice order issued in February 2013 says, “Respondent shall not resume the practice of medicine until Respondent successfully completes the clinical training program, as evidenced by written notice to Respondent from the Board or its designee.”


Photo Credit:  Crovax612 via Flickr


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A physician's license should be bestowed as a privilege, not an entitlement. Peer oversight via sham medical boards is not working. Patient harm is not investigated and will not be until the system is drastically changed. Thank you for reporting on this issue!


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