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Doctor barred from surgeries allegedly caught violating order

Less than a month after Dr. Andrew Rutland was barred from performing surgeries after an abortion patient’s death, state medical authorities say they caught the physician in an undercover sting apparently violating the court order.

For the second time in as many months, state officials are seeking the immediate suspension of the Chula Vista physician’s license. A hearing is set for Thursday in San Diego. Rutland could not be reached for comment.

His lawyer, Paul M. Hittelman, said Rutland did nothing to violate the court’s order.

“It’s not asserted that he was doing any surgical procedures,” said Hittelman, adding that Rutland’s physician daughter performed those procedures.

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On Jan. 7, Administrative Law Judge James Ahler stopped short of granting the request by lawyers for the Medical Board of California, deciding instead to temporarily limit his practice until a full hearing could be held. One potential problem for the state was proving that Rutland posed an immediate danger -- given that it took five months to bring its case.

This time, lawyers for the medical board will present evidence of a sting operation hatched a couple of days after the January hearing.

At that time, in response to a request from Rutland’s lawyer seeking clarification of the no-surgery order, the judge amended it to specifically ban him from performing “first trimester abortions and endometrial curettage procedures.”

Two weeks later, Medical Board investigator Carmen Aguilera-Marquez made an appointment for an abortion at A Women’s Choice Family Planning Clinic in Chula Vista. She used an undercover alias and brought a urine sample from a pregnant woman.

At the clinic, she saw Rutland in a room through an open door standing by a woman lying on an examination table, according to a petition filed by the board. The patient’s legs were bent, and Rutland was looking into the patient’s cervical area, she said.

She spoke with a friend of the patient who told her that the woman was there for a “chemical abortion,” a spontaneous miscarriage induced with pills inserted by a physician, she said in the petition.

Later, when she was asked to undergo a pregnancy test, the investigator went into a bathroom and filled the cup with urine she brought with her, she said.

Rutland determined she was seven weeks pregnant. He said his physician daughter performs surgical abortions but was not in that day, she said, and advised that she allow him to do a chemical abortion.

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The investigator insisted on a surgical procedure, and an appointment was scheduled for another day, she said in the petition.

Dr. Jessica Kingston, an expert physician retained by the medical board, said in the petition that by counseling the patient and “being ready, willing and capable of prescribing the necessary medications for an abortion, and determining whether the patient was a candidate for a medical abortion, Dr. Rutland is performing first trimester abortions.”

“We believe nothing was done that would violate the order as amended or in its original form, for that matter,” Hittelman said. Rutland was accused in December of negligence in attempting to perform a high-risk, second-trimester abortion in an ill-equipped and unsanitary back room of an acupuncture clinic in San Gabriel.

The patient, 30-year-old Ying Chen, fell into a coma and eventually died from a toxic reaction to a drug Rutland administered, the autopsy report said.

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At the time, Rutland was on probation and practicing under another physician’s supervision. The medical board acknowledged this month that it violated its own rules by allowing Christopher Dotson Jr., a Los Angeles doctor with a spotty disciplinary record of his own, to serve as Rutland’s monitor.

Rutland first surrendered his license in 2002 in a high-profile case involving the deaths of two infants. In 2007, Rutland convinced the board that he had been rehabilitated and regained his license.

lisa.girion@latimes.com


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