Credibility has been rapidly shrinking for the executives behind the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign (you know the one), and now, a new lawsuit alleges that the business they're running is a "huge, lucrative and criminal enterprise."
In the lawsuit, posted here by the Los Angeles Times, a former employee of surgery centers affiliated with the ad campaign claims that details have been covered up in case of Paula Rojeski, a 55-year-old Ladera Ranch woman who died following her Lap-Band surgery on Sept. 8, 2011.
Rojeski underwent the weight-loss procedure at Valley Surgical Center in West Hills. Dyanne Deuel, a former surgical tech supervisor, alleges that during Rojeski's surgery, the anesthesiologist made a number of mistakes--not turning on the valve to the oxygen tank at the right time, ignoring a blood pressure reading of 70, and modifying the IV in Rojeski's arm, causing it to come loose and drain its fluids onto the ground.
When the surgeon checked the patient, he yelled, "She doesn't have a pulse. Call 911," and began administering CPR, according to court documents. Rojeski was transported by paramedics to West Hills Hospital, where she was pronounced dead.
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Immediately following Rojeski's death, Deuel alleges that Michael Omidi, an executive of the surgery centers, ordered his girlfriend to send drivers to the center to remove all the medical equipment and replace it with equipment from the Beverly Hills location before an investigation could take place. Omidi also ordered that Rojeski's medical charts and file be taken there, court documents say.
Deuel further claims that Rojeski "coded" 15 minutes before the anesthesiologist told anyone, but Omidi ordered that the 15-minute gap be deleted in the records. The complaint alleges that Rojeski's death was never reported to the Medical Board or the U.S. FDA as required by law.
Run by brothers Julian and Michael Omidi, 1-800-GET-THIN is a marketing company that directs people to clinics offering the Lap-Band weight-loss procedure, and is not funded by the Irvine-based Allergan, which makes the device.
Rojeski was the fifth person to die within days after undergoing Lap-Band procedures at centers affiliated with the 1-800-GET-THIN campaign.