A Phoenix, Arizona physician who had three patients die during liposuction surgery was found guilty of murder and manslaughter last week in Maricopa County Superior Court. He was not a trained plastic surgeon, nor a surgeon of any kind.
Dr. Peter Normann had been an emergency-room physician, certified as an internist, and had never done a residency in plastic surgery. He had undergone six days of training in liposuction and had done some “hands-on training” in liposuction and breast augmentation.
Normann was pronounced guilty of second-degree murder in the deaths of Ralph Gonzalez, 33, of Scottsdale, and Leslie Ann Ray, 53, of California, and of manslaughter for the death of Alicia Santizo Blanco, 41, of Gilbert.
In her closing arguments earlier this week, Attorney Jeannette Gallagher claimed that two of the deaths constituted second-degree murder because of Normann’s “extreme indifference to human life,” and the third death was manslaughter because of Normann’s “conscious disregard of substantial and unjustified risk of death.”
Furthermore, the attorney said, his operating room lacked proper oxygen and monitoring equipment, and he worked without anesthesiologists or nurses, relying on a massage therapist and a former restaurant worker with little or no training as medical technicians.
The massage therapist, who assisted in surgery, has already pleaded guilty to eight counts of unlawful practice of medicine and was sentenced last year to five years in prison.
Editor’s note: There seems to be an ongoing problem with surgery done by untrained physicians, with a lack of trained anesthesiologists, in substandard facilities… and the complications that can happen, as in this sad tale, are not at all good.
Whether you call it aesthetic surgery or cosmetic surgery, it’s still surgery.