Utah Doctor and Girlfriend Found Dead

In the Salt Lake City area a cosmetic surgeon and the woman he had once kidnapped in 2011 were found dead, according to Utah County Deputy Attorney Craig Johnson.

Dr Joseph Berg at Kidnapping Sentencing

Dr Joseph Berg at Kidnapping Sentencing

Police spokesman Sergeant Craig Martinez told reporters there were no clear signs of trauma to either of the bodies, such as gunshot wounds, but the deaths were still being investigated as a murder-suicide.

The physician had been convicted in December, 2011 of kidnapping a woman named Lucy Schwartz, after an emergency call during which 911 dispatchers could hear a woman in the background crying and begging for help. When police arrived at the house and crashed through the door, they found Ms. Schwartz in a closet, tied to a chair with medical tape, and Berg the only other person in the home. In court testimony, the woman stated that Berg had gotten angry at her, dragged her through the house by the hair and tied her to a dresser and chair.

Lucy Schwartz in happier times

Lucy Schwartz in happier times


Berg was sentenced to 18 months in jail, but was released after only four months.

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Research into the case reveals that Berg lost his medical license in January. At that time, the Utah Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing determined that he was not mentally fit to practice medicine. The previous November, reports by his nurses came to their attention that Berg had been seen using drugs while treating patients; that he would fall asleep while standing up; and that his entire medical staff quit at the same time, because they could see he was becoming increasingly dangerous.

Body of Lucy Schwartz removed from the Orem home

Body of Lucy Schwartz removed from the Orem home

Prior to the tragedy, Berg had operated the Cosmetic Plastic Surgery Institute & Day Spa, in Orem. He is a graduate of University of Kansas school of medicine in 1993, and was affiliated with Timpanogos Regional Hospital, in Orem.


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Dozens of California Hospitals Fined. Why? Patient Safety Violations

In December, 2010 the Public Health Department of the state of California reported that it was about to levy $850,000 in penalties on more than a dozen hospitals, as a result of patient safety infractions within their facilities.

Less than a year later, in September, 2011, 12 more hospitals were found non-compliant in patient care matters, on at least one occasion, and another $600,000 in fines were meted out.

According to Pam Dickfoss, Deputy Director of California’s Health Care Quality division,  state law requires all hospitals must report to the Public Health Department any mistake that may cause either patient death or patient injury. But in fact, as Public Citizen’s Health Research Group consistently reveals year after year, few hospitals do report, and that failure itself is a violation of law.


A little research shows that 26 different hospitals have been penalized for treatment and/or procedural mistakes that either caused – or were likely to cause – serious injury or death to patients, in the most recent two-year time-frame reported. We now know which hospitals they are.

Because our purpose at MedicalMiscreants here is public safety,  here is some detail regarding the medical facilities which were fined, and why:

(2010 sanctions):

  • Fresno Surgical Hospital – $50,000 fine – Surgical team left gauze inside a woman during a hysterectomy. Patient suffered  infections and severe pain for eight months
  • Henry Mayo Newhall Hospital, Valencia – $50,000 fine – Overdosing a patient on antibiotics, causing kidney failure. Patient now undergoes dialysis three times each week
  • Kaiser Hospital South San Francisco$50,000 – Administered drugs and vaccines to thousands of patients, that were not properly refrigerated for three years
  • USC Medical Center –$25,000 – Surgical team left a sponge inside an abdominal surgery patient
  • Lucile Packard Children’s Hospital – $50,000 – Failed to safely administer medication to an infant
  • Mission Hospital Regional Medical Center Mission Viejo – $100,000 – For a second surgery on a patient to remove a metal screw cap left in her body during the first surgery
  • San Francisco General Hospital – $50,000 – Accidentally performing a partial breast removal on a patient
  • Santa Barbara Cottage Hospital – $50,000 – A 2009 kidnapping of an infant by someone posing as a nurse
  • Scripps Memorial Hospital La Jolla$100,000 – Surgeon left a metal pin inside a patient’s neck during spinal surgery
  • St. Jude Medical Center Fullerton – $75,000 – Patient died after a nurse administered an overdose of morphine
  • Sutter Solano Medical Center Vallejo – $50,000 – Surgical team left a sponge in a woman’s abdomen after a Caesarean
  • Torrance Memorial Medical Center – $75,000 – Surgeon left a foreign object inside a patient following surgery
  • UCSF Medical Center – $75,000 – Surgeon operated on the wrong eye of a patient (Bay Citizen, 12/8); and
  • Ventura County Medical Center – $50,000 – Left a surgical towel inside a patient’s abdomen after surgery


CDPH pic
(2011 sanctions):
  • Alameda Hospital Alameda – $50,000 – The administration failed to develop and implement written policies and procedures to ensure the safe and effective administration of medication. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000
  • Brotman Medical Center Culver City – $50,000 – The administration failed to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it failed to follow its policies and procedures for fall prevention. This is the second administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • California Men’s Colony San Luis Obisbo – $50,000 –  Failure to implement written policies and procedures to ensure the safe and effective administration of medication. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • Dominican Hospital Santa Cruz – $75,000 – Failure to develop and implement written policies and procedures to ensure the safe & effective administration of medication. This is the third administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • EmanuelMedical Center Turlock – $75,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the second administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • Kaiser Hospital Vallejo – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the second administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • USC Medical Center Los Angeles – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it failed to implement written policies & procedures to ensure the safe and effective administration of medication. This is the fourth administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • Riverside Community Hospital Riverside – $50,000 –  Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital. The penalty is $50,000
  • Stanislaus Surgical Hospital Modesto – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • Sutter Delta Medical Center Antioch – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of its patient when it failed to follow its policies & procedures related to ongoing patient monitoring and assessment and provision of patient care. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • Torrance Memorial Medical Center Torrance – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the first administrative penalty issued to this hospital
  • UCSF Medical Center San Francisco – $50,000 – Failure to ensure the health & safety of a patient when it did not follow its surgical policies & procedures. This is the fifth administrative penalty issued to this hospital

{Administrative penalties are issued under authority granted by Health & Safety Code. An administrative penalty carries a fine of $50,000 for the first violation; $75,000 for the second; $100,000 for the third and subsequent violation at any one hospital. Violations that occurred prior to 2009 carry a fine of $25,000 and are not counted in this total.}


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Arrest them? Sometimes. 200 a month, actually. But the Daffy Docs just keep on coming . . . .

The Doctor Monster Tally for 2011 is Now in: 2,491 Guilty Verdicts

5 of 2,500 arrested this year

Here are 5 of just under 2,500 convicted in a single year

As physician misbehavior investigators, we see enormous flaws in any Health Care ‘reform’ that refuses to address the off-the-chart volume of physician-related mischief. How is it that this subject is so deftly, consistently, blatantly sidestepped?

Monstrous fraud; literally millions  of unwarranted procedures; drug pushing beyond reason –  our health care system provides  fertile ground for excess and abuse. Chew on these points for a minute:

1. U.S. DOJ: “the estimated law enforcement cost to police & try criminal doctors and medical fraud, is 1/2 TRILLION dollars annually.” Let’s all stop and stare at that number again: $500,000,000,000.

2. 11,000 physicians found criminally guilty of serious misbehavior in the last 8 years. Five times as many civil or ethics hearings.

3. 2010 – 2,389 doctors convicted of egregious acts.

4. 2009 – 2,490 guilty verdicts, 5,000+ more sanctioned in civil proceedings.

Would you not concede the following observation?

When a single New York surgeon can perform & bill for 10,000 unwarranted eye operations

When a team of heart surgeons can cut open 900+ healthy chests to pad their own bank accounts

When the Michigan medical board chairman utters the words, “Yes, it can take five years to remove a child molester MD”

Then the only line that comes to mind was spoken on Apollo 13:

“Houston, we have a problem.”

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Until we weed out the lab coat lunacy, any talk of “reform” is juvenile beyond belief.

Trust us: You're safer in the pool with his fellow

Trust us: You’re safer in the pool with his fellow

How long are we willing to ignore a killer whale in our neighborhood swimming pool?

(reprint of our Huffington Post health care editorial, January 2012)

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More Patients Come Forward in Doctor Sexual Assault Case

Two months after detectives filed dozens of sexual assault charges against a Glastonbury, Connecticut physician, few details about the case have been revealed.

Dr Tory Westbrook

Dr Tory Westbrook

But Superior Court judge Susan Handy made one matter clear following the most recent arrest of Doctor Tory Z. Westbrook – the list of patients who believe they were abused is getting longer and longer.

And the Prosecutor in Middletown, Peter McShane, reported the number of women who were mistreated will grow further still.

Westbook MD, age 44, had already been charged with sexually assaulting three adult women while working at the Community Health Center in the town of Clinton. According to the prosecution, all three of the original incidents happened between 2010-2012. At that time, the Connecticut Medical Examining Board’s investigation revealed that Westbrook was accused of having “engaged in inappropriate physical and/or sexual contact with a female patient during a medical examination” in the months of October and December, 2010.

Police believe that the doctor also had inappropriate contact with two other patients during examinations in November, 2010, and again in June, 2011, and that Westbrook “had an inappropriate sexual relationship” with a fourth female patient, in exchange for narcotics, on more than one occasion.

So far, the charges involve a total of 19 women, and Westbrook is currently out on $1,500,000 bail.

Westbrook resigned from the CommunityHealth Center in Clinton when he was hired as an interim medical director of the Charter Oak Health Center in Hartford. His most recent position was chief of internal medicine.

Westbrook is married to Connecticut State Superior Court Judge Dawne Westbrook.

The CEO of Charter Oak, Peter Velez told reporters that Westbrook was placed on administrative.

“I would like to point out that he never treated patients at Charter Oak,” Velez said.


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Want to Nab a Doctor/Killer? Count on Taco Bell

Dr Richard Conti

Dr Richard Conti

In the city of Conway, Arkansas a former Nevada emergency room physician has been found guilty of killing two men in a Conway homicide case 10 years ago.

The Faulkner County Superior Court jury needed but one hour of deliberations to determine that Doctor Richard Conte was guilty of two counts of Capital Murder.

Investigators had believed for nearly a decade that Conte, age 63, was responsible for the shooting deaths of 49-year-old Carter Elliott, as well as 25-year-old Timothy Robertson. But because Conte was already in prison for kidnapping his wife and the details were more than a little convoluted, they took their time building the case of double murder against him.

Carter Elliott and Robertson shot and killed by Doctor Richard Conte

Timothy Robertson, Carter Elliott, shot and killed by Doctor Richard Conte

In a story that ranges from strange to downright weird, the following facts are now known:

> Conte, MD was arrested for the murders just as he was about to be released from prison, after serving nine years of a 15-year sentence, for kidnapping his ex-wife, Lark Schwartz.

Lark Schwartz

Lark Schwartz testifies against her doctor-kidnapper ex-husband

> The kidnapping occurred one month after the murders. Schwartz had divorced the doctor after three months due to his “extremely bizarre behavior, with cameras in every room and guns in every pocket.”

> The investigation revealed that Conte had driven from Duck Creek, Utah, where he lived, to Salt Lake City; drugged and tied up his former wife; put her in the car; took her to his house and tied her to a chair. She was rescued by sheriff’s deputies.

> The medical examiner in Faulkner County was able to accurately determine the times of the murders when detectives found a Taco Bell food receipt, with a date, store location and time stamp, on the night of the shootings.

> The doctor had bragged to people for years that he had been a war hero. He carried medals in his pocket to prove it. He would show off the places on his body where he still had bullets from battle.

> Conte, MD never served in the armed forces.

> Doctor Kevin Clark, the convicted doctor’s friend from medical school, testified that Conte had once called him to say he’d been shot while on a secret mission in Afghanistan, and could trust no one but Clark to remove the bullets.

> When Conte arrived at Clark’s medical office wearing military fatigues and multiple bullet wounds, Doctor Clark stated it was obvious that Conte had not been shot at all. He told the jury the bullets had been carefully placed under the skin and into the muscle through surgical incisions that Conte had himself inflicted, all over his body.

The former Carson City Nevada MD has been sentenced to life in prison.


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And another one man, physician-crime wave is removed from society. But how many of those who followed this jaw-dropping case, bothered to consider the following question:

Why didn’t Doctor Kevin Clark – an otherwise decent and honorable medical practitioner – ever bother to report the off-the-chart behavior of this serious lab coat lunatic – well before the murders and kidnapping?

You might want to take a glance at this for an answer:



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Chicago-area Gynecologist Found Guilty of Patient Rape

A Streator Illinois physician was convicted this week in the sexual assault of an eight-months pregnant woman nearly 10 years ago.

Dr Bruce S Smith

Dr Bruce S Smith

Doctor Bruce S. Smith, age 60 and a resident of Chicago, was found guilty of two charges of sexual assault in Cook County Circuit Court.

A spokeswoman for the State Attorney’s office, Sally Daly, announced that Smith’s charge of sexually assaulting a pregnant patient during a 2002 pelvic exam, was one of three rapes he is believed to have committed.

Smith operated a clinic called the Cameo Women’s Healthcare in Streator between 2005-2008, which was located in the Medical Arts building across from St. Mary’s Hospital.

The Illinois Department of Finance and Professional Regulation suspended the doctor’s medical license in October, 2009, based on police records of the assault, but failed to do so until after at least four more women reported sexual misconduct, that the department take punitive action against Smith.

During Smith’s time in Streator, he was the subject of four malpractice lawsuits in La Salle County.

Smith is scheduled to be sentenced in February.


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Case Update:


Study: California is a Great Place to be – If You’re a ‘Dangerous’ Doctor

What is the risk of dangerous doctors being punished by the State Medical Board which licenses them? Well, if you happen to ply your trade in California, it is likely you will never get into any real trouble at all.

250,000 Doctors & counting

250,000 Doctors & counting

Does 'Health Care Reform' address this? Not a chance

Does ‘Health Care Reform’ address this? Not a chance

This, according to the public safety watchdog group Public Citizen, in it’s annual report in August. The Public Citizen investigation revealed that a jaw-dropping 700 California physicians sanctioned by hospitals and outpatient clinics for serious misbehavior have yet to face any action, by the the same board that touts “public safety” as their number one priority.

The Public Citizen study points out that California’s Medical Board doctor discipline performance has consistently deteriorated over the last decade.  The non-profit group was so concerned about patient safety that they sent a formal advisory to Governor Jerry Brown. The letter urged him to take immediate action on what it referred to as “dangerously inadequate medical board activity.”

In the letter, the group detailed there were currently 220 physicians nationwide considered an “immediate threat to health or safety,” and a stunning 102 of them were – and likely still are – California physicians. A rather remarkable finding, we think, when one considers that California has a mere 12% of all licenses doctors in the nation.

In the national ranking of state medical board physician disciplinary action, California barely escaped from being one of the worst 10 states.

According to Doctor Sidney Wolfe, author of the study, the facts show that incompetent, unethical and criminal doctors who might have been properly disciplined a few years ago, are escaping scrutiny today.

“In California, they’re less likely to get disciplined than in the past. The state is sinking in its rate of disciplinary actions.” (Doctor Sidney Wolfe)

The safest states when it comes to doctor discipline are, in order, listed as follows:

10. Hawaii

9. New Mexico

8. Louisiana

7. Colorado

6. Oklahoma

5. Arizona

4. Ohio

3. Kentucky

2. North Dakota

1. Alaska


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