Medical Board Cites Author-Anesthesiologist Barry L. Friedberg for Negligence, Dishonesty

Two websites present very different pictures of anesthesiologist Dr. Barry Friedberg.

DrBarryFriedberg.com touts that he has been a board-certified anesthesiologist for more than three decades, the author of Getting Over Going Under: 5 Things you Must Know before Anesthesia and the creator of something known as The Friedberg Method of Goldilocks Anesthesia.

The Medical Board of California website uses such words as "negligence," "incompetence" and "dishonesty" in association with Friedberg.

Woman Goes to Smile Implant Center in Newport Beach, Dies; Daughter of Deceased Wins Malpractice Suit

"Effective February 19, 2015, at 5 p.m., the license of BARRY LYNN FRIEDBERG, M.D. (G 29706), with an address of record in Newport Beach, CA, was placed on three years' probation and is prohibited from supervising physician assistants," reads a recent email alert from the medical board.

When you drill down farther into the web, things get curiouser and curiouser.

The mission of the nonprofit Goldilocks Foundation, which Friedberg founded in 2009, "is to provide education and training to doctors and the general public on the dangers of anesthesia over-medication and under-medication--and the simplest, most effective way to avoid it--Goldilocks Anesthesia."

One discovers that the "Friedberg Method is a proven and time-tested method of determining more precisely how a patient is doing under anesthesia. As a result, it can put an end to over- or under-anesthesia--causes of severe patient discomfort, disorientation, dementia, or even death." Goldilocks Anesthesia "adds a brain monitor to the Friedberg Method" so the anesthesiologist can "know with certainty whether more or less anesthesia is needed."

But it was negligence involving the combination of anesthesia Friedberg provided to a 57-year-old woman and improper monitoring that led to recommendation before the medical board to revoke his license. That revocation will be stayed if Friedberg successfully completes three years of probation and courses on continuing medical education, medical records keeping and ethics. He must also have his practice monitored by an American Medical Association expert, inform every hospital he has privileges at of his probationary status, oversee no physician assistants and obey all laws.

Here is how my former colleague Yasmin Nouh began her 2012 post (linked to above) on the case at the center of the revocation recommendation:

Los Angeles resident Paula Kane went to the Smile Implant Center in Newport Beach for dental implants after seeing a newspaper advertisement in January 2010. When she entered the facility around 9:30 a.m., anesthesiologist Dr. Barry Friedberg administered her drugs while she stayed awake--Kane's anesthesia of choice for the procedure known as "oral conscious sedation." Hours later, she went into respiratory arrest; her blood turned dark, according to one of the dental assistants present; a deadly combination of propofol--the same drug that killed Michael Jackson--along with benzodiazepines had shut down Kane's respiratory system. When she was taken to the hospital, doctors diagnosed her as brain dead. A few days later, her daughter, Tanisha Mitchell, took the 57-year-old off life support.

Before Kane was taken to Hoag Memorial Hospital in Newport Beach, paramedics were able to do something Friedberg could not: resuscitate her. The state medical board faulted the anesthesiologist for that and for providing paramedics with a list of different medications than the ones he had given Kane.

The board also cited Friedberg for inadequately managing the patient's airway and ventilation, failing to hook her up to an EKG monitor during the initial sedation, not recognizing that the drugs he gave her--when combined--lead to respiratory distress, failing to have adequately documented her care, medical history, physical status or anesthetic plan and--here's the kicker--delaying his 9-1-1 call because he was talking on his cell phone to someone else.

The Weekly reached out to Friedberg for comment but have not heard back.

Orange County jurors awarded Mitchell, Kane's daughter, $635,000 for pain and suffering damages, which were reduced to $250,000 per California's cap on non-economic damages. The costs were split among Friedberg and dentists Thomas J. Teich and his now ex-wife Nadia Abazarnia, who founded the Smile Implant Center in Santa Ana and later expanded to a second office in Newport Beach.

Teich and Abazarnia later filed for Chapter 7 bankruptcy protection in 2013, and Smile Implant Center closed.

The state dental board accused Teich of gross negligence, repeated negligent acts, unprofessional conduct, simultaneously sedating multiple patients, failure to obtain written informed consent, failure to be physically present and monitor a sedated patient, failure to maintain accurate patient records, abandonment of patient, false and misleading advertising and failure to notify the board of change of address of record. He surrendered his license on Feb. 4, 2014, at which time he could not apply for reinstatement for three years.

Debbie Archer, a patient who had a bad experience with Teich, created the website SmileImplantVictims.info to serve as a "red flag." She links to license revocation actions against Teich in Arizona and Illinois.

Email: mcoker@ocweekly.com. Twitter: @MatthewTCoker. Follow OC Weekly on Twitter @ocweekly or on Facebook!

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