ATLANTA, Ga. (CBS46) -- We live in a culture where many people trust doctors. But you would not expect a general practitioner to give you a facelift.
Why? Well, because they’ve never seen or done one outside of their residency.
CBS46 discovered that in Georgia physicians can do whatever they want and get paid on the spot. Year after year you’ve watched news reports of countless patients being butchered, botched and burned.
Each one of them living with the scars of a surgery gone wrong.
In 2010, an eye doctor called 911 because his patient was bleeding out as he performed surgery. The procedure? A boob job.
In 2014 two women died during an operation with Dr. Nedra Dodds. The Emergency Room physician was performing plastic surgery, giving what some called violent liposuction.
In 2018, Dr. Windell Boutte became known as the “dancing doctor”, seen on video slicing sedated patients to the beat of top 40 hits.
Ojay Liburd told CBS46 his mother Icilma Cornelius saw the dermatologist for abdominal surgery just before her wedding. However, she was under anesthesia for too long and flat lined.
Dr. Boutee couldn’t help her because she didn’t have any hospital privileges. All she could do was dial 911.
“That first day of seeing her in the ER her face was bloated and her tongue was sticking out and they had tubes in her, she was unresponsive,” said Liburd.
Cornelius suffered a traumatic brain injury, and now needs 24-hour care.
“There’s nothing criminal about what they’re doing,” said attorney Susan Witt.
In Georgia it’s all perfectly legal.
“As long as you have an M.D. behind your name, then you could do whatever you want,” said Witt.
Witt explained that state law allows dentists, dermatologists or any other physician to pick up a scalpel and cut people open without any special training.
“We see doctors who are taking weekend classes and then coming out of those weekend classes and all of a sudden performing liposuction, performing facelifts, performing tummy tucks,” said Witt.
Board certified plastic surgeon Dr. Keith Jeffords said for many doctors it’s become a side hustle; working in medispas or private offices which allow them to bypass the credentials usually required in hospitals.
“They feel like that’s a way to cash out from insurance, to go into some of cash only practice,” said Jeffords.
So CBS46 asked State Senator Jen Jordan if anyone cares to operate on this broken system.
“I think everybody thinks it’s probably already in place, so if everyone already thinks the government’s doing it and we’re not then maybe we should,” said State Senator Jordan.
She said this year legislation is finally being drafted.
“Right now we have a regulatory framework that requires physicians who are using anesthesia to have certain training and certain licensure,” said State Senator Jordan.
She said it’ll force physicians to learn how anesthesia is managed and how to handle any complications.
“At least that’s a start to make sure that some of these basics are in place, and make sure patients aren’t dying,” said State Senator Jordan.
The legislator said that’s only the first step in closing this loophole.
“Putting more regulations on the books, is it helpful? Absolutely, but we also have to make sure that the board can enforce regulations if and when we are able to get those passed," added Sen. Jordan.
The Georgia medical composite board is a group of physicians who are supposed to act as watchdogs. However, State Senator Jordan told CBS46 that the board is underfunded, so it is harder to keep an eye on things.
“A lot of times what happens is there’s multiple complaints about a physician complaint after complaint, and then the board really doesn’t get involved, until there’s been a death or even multiple deaths and that’s really because of a resource issue,” said State Senator Jordan.
On top of that, she said the State board doesn’t double-check a physician’s background or training.
Therefore, if a physician advertises themselves as board certified, patients should question their doctor and ask which board they’re referring to.
The American Board of Medical Specialties is the only nationally recognized certification organization. Any other boards are bogus.
“You can pay 50 bucks to get a plaque on the wall that says you’re a board-certified doctor in XYZ,” said Witt.
Patients should also ask where the surgery is going to be performed, do they have hospital privileges and how their facility is credentialed.
To see how other states compare to Georgia, when it comes to the surgery side hustle , click here.