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Suleman's doctor accused of experimenting on her without her consent

The state says Michael Kamrava failed to obtain proper consent from Suleman and others to participate in a study for which he used an experimental technique as part of the implantation of embryos.

November 19, 2010|By Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times

The Beverly Hills fertility doctor who assisted Nadya Suleman in conceiving octuplets was cited by federal regulators for using an experimental procedure without her informed consent, according to testimony Thursday at a state medical board hearing in downtown Los Angeles.

Dr. Michael Kamrava's medical license could be revoked if it is determined that he was grossly negligent in his treatment of Suleman and two other female patients: a 48-year-old who suffered complications after she became pregnant with quadruplets and a 42-year-old diagnosed with advanced ovarian cancer after receiving fertility treatments.

At Thursday's hearing before Administrative Law Judge Daniel Juarez, Kamrava looked on as an investigator for the U.S. Food and Drug Administration's Canoga Park office testified about her findings from an unannounced five-day inspection in September.

Donna Tartaglino Besone said she was investigating whether Kamrava had obtained proper consent from patients, including Suleman, to conduct a study in which he employed an experimental technique, using a tiny telescopic device to film inside them when he inserted embryos.

"There was a lot of confusion about when the study was conducted," she said, noting that Kamrava initially told her he conducted the study with a lab technician from 2000 to 2008 but later said he did it with an embryologist from 2000 to 2004.

Kamrava, who treated Suleman for more than a decade, helped her conceive all 14 of her children. He testified Thursday that Suleman knew she was participating in the study that was published this year in a Tehran-based scholarly journal. The study of 13 patients did not include the two other women named in the accusation, Deputy Atty. Gen. Judith Alvarado said.

Kamrava said Suleman volunteered for the study and that he spoke with her "extensively" about it.

"Where did she sign to say I'm a volunteer to be tested as a human guinea pig?" Alvarado asked him. Under questioning, Kamrava conceded that Suleman's consent forms did not say she was a test subject.

At that point, Alvarado added a 10th charge, alleging dishonesty and corrupt acts related to Kamrava's failure to obtain Suleman's consent. She said his license should be revoked to protect patients from his cavalier, "cowboy care."

In his closing arguments Thursday, Kamrava's lawyer, Henry Fenton, disputed Alvarado's contention that his client used experimental techniques without patient consent and said Kamrava should be allowed to continue practicing medicine. "He's not a cowboy," Fenton said. "He was afraid he was going to kill these embryos and he had no legal right to do it."

Alvarado called that argument "silly," citing previous testimony by the state's expert witness that fertility doctors have a responsibility to limit the number of embryos implanted in order to protect the health of the mothers and the children.

Alvarado did not call Suleman to testify in the case, saying she had enough evidence in Kamrava's medical records. Suleman and her attorney could not be reached for comment Thursday.

By law, Juarez must submit his opinion to the state medical board within 30 days, after which the board will have 100 days to make a final decision.

molly.hennessy-fiske@latimes.com

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