Home E-Weekly June 6, 2017

Cosmetic Surgery Turns to Tragedy in Florida and Colorado

Published: June 5, 2017

DEVASTATING OUTCOMES Osakatukei Omulepu, MD, (left) and Carlos Hernandez Fernandez both offered cosmetic surgery to trusting patients.

One is a licensed physician in Florida; the other is a surgical assistant who pretended to be a licensed physician in Colorado. Both offered cosmetic surgery to trusting patients who would experience devastating outcomes.

In Florida last week, a 30-year-old mother of 6 and a patient of Osakatukei Omulepu, MD, stopped breathing during an unidentified procedure at the Seduction Cosmetic Center in Doral, and later died in the emergency room of a nearby hospital. Dr. Omulepu, who specializes in liposuction and "butt lifts," had that same day been given a reprieve by an appeals court that denied an order to revoke his medical license.

The order had followed an April decision by an administrative law judge who found Dr. Omulepu guilty of 6 of 9 counts alleging standard-of-care violations and inadequate documentation of medical records. Four of his patients had complained that they were injured during procedures in 2015, and one of the 4 spent 28 days in a coma.

Meanwhile, in Colorado last week, Carlos Hernandez Fernandez, a surgical assistant who falsely claimed to have physician privileges at 2 Denver hospitals, was sentenced to 6 years in prison followed by 6 years of probation. As part of a plea bargain, Mr. Hernandez pleaded guilty to assault, criminal impersonation and unauthorized practice of physician.

He had posed as a plastic surgeon and run his own cosmetic surgery clinic, where he performed face lifts, tummy tucks and other procedures with local anesthesia or no anesthesia. He initially faced 126 charges, including sexual assault and child abuse, but he agreed to pay roughly $175,000 in restitution to his dozens of victims, and prosecutors dropped the remaining counts.

Many of his patients were immigrants. At his sentencing, one described what she felt while having a nose job done by Mr. Hernandez. "I could feel when he was cutting it open," she said. "I was totally bruised, my nose completely dropped, I had no more cartilage, and my septum was completely crooked." Mr. Fernandez apologized to his victims in court, saying, "It was never my intention to do anything malicious."

Meanwhile, in Florida, Dr. Omulepu's lawyer issued a statement after the death of his patient, saying that his client was "absolutely devastated by the complication that occurred in this case" and that it was "the first patient death he has had."

The patient had traveled from Illinois for the procedure. "Although what happened has been widely documented as a complication of the procedure the patient underwent," the statement continues, "it is not a situation any surgeon wants to have, nor does it make this any easier for the patient's family or for him."

After the incident, a sign appeared on the door of the Seduction Cosmetic Center, saying that it had temporarily been shut down because the City Manager found "emergency conditions" that could be a "serious danger" to public health.

Jim Burger

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