NEW YORK (NYTIMES) - A dermatologist who can be seen on video dancing to the hip-hop song "Cut It" while performing a surgical procedure was suspended Thursday (June 7) by the Georgia medical board, which said her continued practice "poses a threat to the public health, safety, and welfare".
The dermatologist, Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, is the medical director and chief executive of Boutté Contour Surgery & Skin in Lilburn, Georgia, an Atlanta suburb. On her website she describes herself as a "DOCTOR TO THE STARS!" - someone with "a surgeon's hands" and "a woman's touch".
She wanted to be known as the "dancing doctor", said Latoyah Rideau, the patient who appears in the video and who is now planning to sue Davis-Boutte for pain and suffering.
Instead of dancing, Rideau said, Davis-Boutte should have been paying more attention to her work.
"I just wanted my butt a little rounder and smaller," she said.
What she received instead were lopsided buttocks and continual itching on her left side, she said.
"I can't live like this. It affects my relationship, it affects everything," Rideau said. "I'm very self-conscious."https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=Z9dfSbnqqVQ
Rideau will join at least nine other patients who have sued Davis-Boutte. The patients claim her negligence left them disfigured and, in one case, brain damaged.
The Georgia Composite Medical Board said Thursday that it "received reliable information" this week that a patient had been taken by ambulance to a hospital on May 31, one day after a liposuction, breast augmentation and a Brazilian butt lift operation.
The patient had a collapsed lung and suffered from anaemia because of acute blood loss, the board said.
The patient remained in the hospital as of Wednesday. Davis-Boutte's treatment "failed to conform to the minimal standards of acceptable and prevailing medical practice," the board said.
The order described a "pattern of conduct", citing unsatisfactory treatment for six other patients.
"Since the suspension, she's not able to comment at this time," a publicist for Davis-Boutte said.
Davis-Boutte's website advertises a variety of cosmetic procedures including liposuction, breast augmentation, tummy tucks and Brazilian butt lifts.
It says she has "MASTERFUL SURGICAL EXPERTISE, having sought additional extensive training by some of the most famous surgeons in the world."
But Susan Witt, a medical malpractice lawyer who is representing Rideau, said Davis-Boutte was "practicing well outside the scope of what she should be doing based on her education and training".
At least 100 people have come forward to complain about Davis-Boutte, said Witt, who has been involved with litigation against her for 2-1/2 years. Witt has filed four complaints so far, and went public about the lawsuits in May because Davis-Boutte continued to treat patients.
Witt said Thursday that she was pleased with the medical board's suspension of the doctor's licence, but "frustrated and disheartened that it's taken them this long to arrive at this decision."
If the licence had been revoked earlier, some recent patients would not have been harmed, she said.
"I think they ultimately acted because of public pressure," Witt said. "It should not have had to come to this."
In 2016, Witt represented the guardian of a woman who sustained brain damage after a liposuction procedure.
That year, in the midst of the litigation, Davis-Boutte started posting numerous YouTube videos online, Witt said, that showed her dancing and gesturing in front of patients who appear to be sedated.
The videos have since been removed from social media, Witt said, but they were used in court by Chloe E. Dallaire, a lawyer who is also representing former patients of Davis-Boutte, during a hearing for a case that was settled last fall.
Dallaire said Davis-Boutte was not complying with requests for information about infection control practices.
"I used the videos to demonstrate to the court that we had severe concerns about those practices and evidence to support our contention," said Dallaire, whose law firm was involved in a few other cases involving Davis-Boutte. Another is expected to be filed Monday.
This year Witt provided the videos - which number more than 20 - to news outlets including The New York Times.
In one video, Davis-Boutte dances to "Cut It", a song by O.T. Genasis that went multiplatinum in 2017.
As the song starts playing, Davis-Boutte prods at the midsection of Rideau, who is lying facedown on the operating table. She fingers rolls of skin and jiggles them to the beat.
As the hook picks up, she begins slicing at the air with her scalpel, just inches from the patient's back. Then the video shows Davis-Boutte making incisions, her scalpel slicing rhythmically. She pauses to wave the scalpel at the camera, the music continuing to play.
Rideau, 37, a hairdresser in New Orleans, said that in addition to suing Davis-Boutte for pain and suffering she would also be seeking money to fix her disfigurement.
"It was gross," Rideau said of the video. "And to know that she never stopped dancing while she was doing my procedure goes to show why my body is disfigured and messed up."
Davis-Boutte came highly recommended by a friend of Rideau, she said, so she arranged to have surgery with her on Feb 21, 2017.
Four days after her surgery, Davis-Boutte sent her a text message about the video. Rideau shared it with The Times.
"Hey, check out today's IG post..."Cut It" is your song, girlfriend!...You did awesome!!!" the text said, referring to an Instagram page that is now private. "So if you want to tell people that that is you, go for it!!!"
Rideau, who was still recovering from the surgery, said she was still heavily medicated and didn't fully understand the message. She recalled clicking on the video, but didn't watch it all.
Then, in May, she saw it on the news.
"I said, 'That's me,'" she recalled.
Davis-Boutte's profile on the Composite State Board of Medical Examiners website lists four medical malpractice settlements between October 2017 and February 2018. Three were for US$900,000 or more, with the highest settlement being US$1 million.
A lawsuit brought by the guardian of Icilma Cornelius, who was injured in February 2016 during liposuction surgery, was settled for an undisclosed amount, Witt said.
Witt said her three other cases against Davis-Boutte are pending. The lawsuits allege that Davis-Boutte not only botched procedures but also used unqualified staff, misled her patients and worked in an unsafe environment.
Cornelius paid more than US$11,200 to remove hanging skin and fat from the lower abdomen and to perform liposuction on various parts of her body, according to the complaint. But during the surgery she went into cardiac arrest and now suffers from a brain injury and other conditions that have left her reliant on a feeding tube, the complaint said.
She will require extensive medical care and "assistance with all aspects of daily living" for the rest of her life, the documents said.
In a statement a day before Davis-Boutte was suspended, her publicist insisted that the dermatologist was a "known expert in this field" with "decades of experience and a countless number of clients".
"She is authorised to perform cosmetic surgery," the statement said. "She is dedicated and committed to giving her clients the utmost professional, masterful surgical expertise and experience."