Fake doctor who caused “infliction of great bodily injury” to patients with fake medicine was convicted in San Diego, after they filed complaints with the California Medical Board.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Kathleen Ann Helms, also known as
Catherine Bright-Helms, age 57, of Encinitas, CA in August, 2012.  She was charged with practicing medicine without a license, “which resulted in the infliction of great bodily injury and grand theft,” announced the FBI.

Cancer_Cover

Assistant District Attorney Gina Darvas  also prosecuted Kurt Donsbach,
the first rogue in our Rogues Gallery.

Fake doctor who caused “infliction of great bodily injury” to patients with fake medicine was convicted in San Diego, after they filed complaints with the California Medical Board.

The Federal Bureau of Investigation arrested Kathleen Ann Helms, also known as
Catherine Bright-Helms, age 57, of Encinitas, CA in August, 2012.  She was charged with practicing medicine without a license, “which resulted in the infliction of great bodily injury and grand theft,” announced the FBI.

In November, Helms was convicted of practicing medicine without a license.  She operated an unlicensed clinic called BrightHouse Wellness in Encinitas, CA and diagnosed patients as having Lyme Disease, then administered unapproved and dangerous intravenous treatments, reported The North County Times.

The FBI began its investigation after two people treated by Helms filed complaints with the California Medical Board’s Operation Safe Medicine.  One complaint claimed that Helms “diagnosed a patient with Lyme disease and [treated her in the clinic] with intravenous infusions of Dimethyl Sulfoxide (DMSO),” as well as “injections of animal cells.”

The patient received four sets of these combined treatments of animal cell injections and DMSO through an illegally installed peripherally inserted central catheter (PICC) that ran from an extremity to a large vein in the chest near the heart.  After the last treatment, the patient was hospitalized and placed in intensive care, according to the affidavit.

The affidavit filed in April 2012 states, “The evening of the last treatment
the patient became seriously ill at home and was taken to a local emergency
room and immediately placed in the Intensive Care Unit (ICU) of the medical
facility. The patient was told she only had hours to live because her organs
were shutting down. The patient was hospitalized a total of six weeks and then
placed into a skill nursing facility and later in an assisted living facility,”
according to the FBI.

Dimethyl Sulfoxide is a solvent derived from wood, which is not approved by the FDA for the treatment of Lyme Disease.  According to the FDA, “At present, the only
human use for which DMSO has been approved is for interstitial cystitis, a bladder condition.”  DMSO is also used to preserve organs before transplantation.

“DMSO is a solvent,” Assistant District Attorney Gina Darvas told the Orlando Sentinel.  “It has very limited medical use. The FDA has not approved it for the use the defendant was doing.”

In an interview with PSM, Darvas said that the German-made bovine stem cells were also not a legitimate FDA approved medication.  Darvas asked that if people believe they have been a victim of Helms, or of another fake medication scam to please report it to authorities.

There are four known victims of this medical scam, and authorities suspect there may be more, according to the North County Times.

Patients seeking treatment from specialists should use their state licensing board to look up physicians’ credentials. However recent cases have found that even licensed
physicians have subjected patients to misbranded medications
. Before submitting to new treatment, patients should ask to see the medication prescribed and verify the dose and the use of the medication, and write down the information identifying information including lot and serial numbers for your personal records.

“By posing as an M.D., misdiagnosing people and then charging thousands of dollars for what amounted to a fake and dangerous cure, this defendant showed a callous disregard for her victims,” said District Attorney Bonnie M. Dumanis in a statement released Wednesday.

“This case is a reminder that consumers need to verify the credentials of health care providers, particularly when seeking alternative medical therapies,” said Darvas to NBC San Diego. “Unfortunately, we’ve seen this before.”

Darvas was the prosecutor in the case of “Dr.” Kurt Donsbach, who was convicted of selling fake cancer medications to patients in April 2011.

By S. Imber