Healthcare News & Insights

Doc convicted of murder for lipo gone wrong

An Arizona doctor is now a convicted murderer for his role in the death of three patients undergoing liposuction procedures.  Dr. Peter Norman, of Anthem, Arizona, was convicted of two counts of second-degree murder and one count of manslaughter.

Norman is a former emergency room doctor and certified internist, but according to prosecutors he had never done a residency in plastic surgery or anesthesiology and had only the most rudimentary training on the cosmetic procedures he was performing.

Norman’s lawyer argued that the patients died of known risks related to plastic surgery. But prosecutors presented compelling evidence of poor medical practice.

For starters, Norman used a massage therapist and a former restaurant worker to assist him during surgery instead of nurses or an anesthesiologist and he operated without appropriate oxygen or other monitoring equipment.

According to various witnesses’ testimony, one patient, Ralph Gonzalez, stopped breathing during his surgery due to an overdose of lidocaine. In attempt to treat Gonzalez, Norman inserted a breathing tube — but accidentally inserted it into the patient’s esophagus, effectively depriving him of oxygen.

When EMTs arrived, Norman forced his way into the ambulance and physically tried to stop them from removing the tube — and didn’t give up until one paramedic threatened to break his arm. Once the tube was removed, Norman insisted on reinserting it himself.

Norman will be sentenced on August 19.

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