The board's assertion about ownership appeared in a disciplinary proceeding against Michael Omidi that accused him of several negligent and improper acts, including allegedly allowing unlicensed assistants to perform such medical procedures as suturing patients. The board eventually settled the case by allowing Michael Omidi to stipulate to violating a couple of legal provisions related to operating in an unaccredited surgical setting. He was placed on three years' probation, which ended in October 2011. Julian Omidi's medical license has been revoked by the medical board, which cited in its revocation decision his "penchant for dishonesty."
Michael Omidi sued me for defamation in 2010 for my reporting on his background. The case was dismissed in 2011.
Valley Surgical's lawyers didn't answer questions about the center's current ownership. A medical board spokeswoman, Cassandra Hockenson, says that the board is relying on the Joint Commission to provide it with ownership information for the center, and that the JC has "yet to comply." I wouldn't think the board would be so casual about requiring its proxies to hew to state law when people's lives are at stake, but that's me.
Anyway, this is the California Medical Board, the motto of which appears to be, "Don't wake us, we're sleeping." It's one reason the board has still not acted against those who have been linked by county coroners to the deaths of five Lap-Band patients.
Indeed, one issue is whether the board intends to take action against Dr. Chau. It's had plenty of time to get the wheels rolling, for it knew no later than Jan. 5, 2012, that the coroner was looking into Rojeski's treatment. (Gee, an osteopath, comes under the jurisdiction of the state Osteopathic Medical Board, but there's no indication on that board's website of any action pending against him there, either.)
Among the complaints in Valley Surgical's lawsuit against the coroner is that the coroner's lead anesthesiology expert on the case, Selma Calmes, had a "bias" against ambulatory surgical centers like Valley Surgical, an assertion the coroner's office has rebuffed. The report got released despite the lawsuit.
Valley Surgical has tried to convince the coroner that Rojeski "may have been the cause of her own death," as Konrad Trope, one of its lawyers, wrote in a Dec. 6 letter filed in court. Among other things, he contended that she hid from the Lap-Band doctors her history of having taken drugs related to the infamously dangerous weight-loss medication fen-phen, which might have damaged her heart. (He doesn't explain what that had to do with her aorta getting injured in surgery.)
The lesson there, of course, is that when you troll for your patients through an 800 number and TV ads, you may get patients you don't know anything about except what they tell you.
But the real problem here is the sorry performance of California's medical regulators. They're supposed to be looking out for California's patients. They failed Paula Rojeski, and that means they're failing us all.
Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Reach him at firstname.lastname@example.org, read past columns at latimes.com/hiltzik, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.