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Inaction by regulators as weight loss surgery allegations mount

January 22, 2012|Michael Hiltzik

This all took place, Deuel says, prior to a pre-announced inspection by state and county officials looking into Rojeski's death. But what if there had been an unannounced inspection by regulators, at any time before Rojeski went under the knife last Sept. 8? The conditions described by Deuel might have been discovered on the spot, like those discovered in Beverly Hills by the surprise inspection in 2009.

And Paula Rojeski might be alive today.

Let us now call the roll of the known departed. Willie Brooks, 1974-2009. Ana Renteria, 1976-2010. Laura Lee Faitro, 1959-2010. Tamara Walter, 1958-2010. Paula Rojeski, 1955-2011. According to coroners' reports, lawsuits and other public documents, they all died after undergoing Lap-Band surgery at clinics associated with 1-800-GET-THIN.

The allegations in last week's court filings point to the reasons why this may have happened, and to who looked away and let it happen.

One can only hope that the regulators and all the others who could have acted and failed to do so are haunted by these names to the end of their days. They should act now, before the roll call of victims grows longer.

Michael Hiltzik's column appears Sundays and Wednesdays. Reach him at mhiltzik@latimes.com, read past columns at latimes.com/hiltzik, check out facebook.com/hiltzik and follow @latimeshiltzik on Twitter.

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