If Arizona didn't have a Homeopathic Board of Medical Examiners, Page's story would likely have ended there.

Unable to practice medicine as a conventional M.D., Page sent an application to Arizona's homeopathic board.

Even though Page had no history of practicing homeopathic medicine, and though he'd been previously stripped of his medical licenses, Arizona's homeopathic board welcomed Page into the state.

Dr. Elliott Schmerler
Dr. Elliott Schmerler
Dr. Elliott Schmerler and Dr. Rick Shacket have an office in Scottsdale.
Dr. Elliott Schmerler and Dr. Rick Shacket have an office in Scottsdale.

Details

Page was issued a homeopathic M.D.h. license. He moved to Gilbert with his wife and five kids — supposedly to practice alternative medicine.

But on July 3, 2007, Page was not practicing homeopathy, or any form of alternative medicine. He was performing a standard liposuction — a surgery not allowed under a homeopathic license.

According to records from the homeopathic board and the Arizona Medical Board, Page's patient, a 53-year-old woman, prepaid for liposuction on her thighs. Page injected the patient with anesthesia, which was allowed by his M.D.h. license, and then performed the liposuction, which wasn't.

The patient died shortly after surgery. The Maricopa County Medical Examiner cannot release the cause of death because board documents have concealed the victim's name.

That death — the third fatality at the Anthem cosmetic surgery clinic — was reported by the media. What wasn't reported is that Page walked right through the homeopathic board's loophole, securing an Arizona M.D.h. even after he'd lost his M.D. licenses in other states.

On March 18 of this year, Page surrendered his homeopathic license as the board was preparing to revoke his license because liposuction falls outside the scope of "minor" surgery homeopaths are allowed to perform.

He never could have practiced in Arizona, if not for the loophole that lets previously revoked doctors practice here as homeopaths.

Page did not return phone calls and e-mails seeking comment.

DR. GABRIEL COUSENS

In 1998, Charles Levy, 57, booked a flight to Arizona. Levy, an insurance agent, told his family he was in good health and planned to visit the Tree of Life Spa for a time of rejuvenation with a homeopathic doctor.

He looked forward to the live organic vegan diet and spiritual rest described by Dr. Gabriel Cousens, whose Web site promotes him as an M.D. and M.D.h.

Cousens is not eligible for an M.D. license in Arizona because his license was once taken away (but reinstated) in California and remains censured in New York. According to Arizona Medical Board spokesman Roger Downey, that makes a doctor ineligible for an Arizona medical license. If Cousens were a D.O., he would be eligible. But he's not. He's been practicing here as a homeopath for 15 years.

According to court records from a civil suit filed by Levy's family, Levy showed up at Cousens' secluded campus in the green hills of Patagonia, Arizona. He was hoping for a time of physical and spiritual rest. Cousens told him that injections of cow adrenaline and/or sheep DNA could energize his body. Levy agreed to five injections, which aren't a homeopathic treatment but are allowed by Arizona's homeopathic board.

Unfortunately, the injection site — on Levy's right buttock — grew infected, so he went to see Cousens about it. Cousens didn't recommend an antibiotic. Instead, he treated the growing abscess with acupuncture and massage.

The infected area became green and black. It spread down Levy's thigh, and on March 1, 1998, Levy did not wake up in his dorm room at the Tree of Life Spa. Cousens found Levy unconscious and attempted CPR, with no success.

Cousens did not call 911. Instead, he called an air ambulance, and arranged for a helicopter pickup on the football field of a nearby high school.

Cousens and a nurse carried Levy — draped in a bathrobe, bleeding from his mouth and groin — to a car and drove him five minutes to the field.

A Patagonia police officer was driving by the school when he saw Cousens and a number of spa guests gathered around an unclothed body lying on the grass.

Levy's buttock and thigh were black and swollen. His eyes were wide open. He was dead. After the helicopter took the body, Dr. Cousens told the officer that he'd injected Levy with sheep DNA. Later, Cousens contradicted his statement, saying the injection was actually cow hormones.

Whether the injection was cow or sheep didn't matter to Santa Cruz County Medical Examiner Dr. Cynthia Porterfield. She examined Levy's body and ruled that the injection and subsequent infection killed him. Specifically, she found that Levy died from Clostridium perfringens, a bacteria that grows in gas gangrene. During the Civil War, that bacteria claimed thousands of soldiers' lives when it grew in their battle wounds. Modern antibiotics can kill the bacteria easily when used.

"I spoke with him the day before. The next day, I got a phone call that he was gone," Levy's son, Howard, says. "I pretty much haven't recovered since. He was not on any medication, didn't have high blood pressure, or a weight problem. He could go out and run three miles on the boardwalk."

Levy filed a lawsuit against Cousens, and Cousens paid an undisclosed amount to settle the suit after the medical examiner pinned the death directly on him.

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11 comments
Mrs. Arpaio
Mrs. Arpaio

I wish Joe Arpaio would make an appointment with one of these "doctors", heck I will even pay the bill.

kingarthurusa
kingarthurusa

I stayed at Cousens's place. It was cold,and not a place to fast or in my opinion to stay. A few people complained. I went there after reading his book sand meeting Cousens to write about positive points on the place Go to tripadvisor The disillusioned do not complain because of their shame and embarrassment. The locals called it the bush of death. They told me the story of the unfortunate Charles Levy. Now the the Phoenix Times have published it, the facts are true.A Spiritual welcome can cost money as well as health. People can be vulnerable when ill and certain health centers can easily pray on the weak.

SandyB
SandyB

SandyB says: Being from where the doctor used to live in Incline Village, Nevada and coming across this article makes my stomach turn.Apparently Arizona's Board of Medical Examiners can't even use a computer. A simple google on just the name ELLIOTT SCHMERLER would bring up enough information to ban him from having a license for any kind of 'practice'.In Incline here, he mamed so many of his patients by doing invasive surgeries of which he is not even legally trained to do. There are several eyebrow lift mistakes with huge scars and many of his patients died or almost died because of his malpractice. Elliott Schmerler WAS a family practitioner. He went to a couple of conferences where they sold the laser cosmetic surgery machines and bought one. Then he brought in Dr Morton Reza Mazaheri,http://www.healthgrades.com/di...(who did Betty Fords face in Palm Springs) and used Dr Mzaheri's CA license number to perform invasive surgeries. They both committed negligence on many, many patients- together and separately. Mr Schmerler had 6 counts of malpractice, 6 counts of tax fraud and 6 counts of moral turpitude on his patients, all at once in 2001. It was in our Bonanza paper.It's very easy to google their history. They have both lost their licenses. Mr Schmerler lost all 4 of his licenses and any reciprocity in other states, according to the articles written by staff that attended his senticing to prison in Federal Court in Reno Oct 31, 2002.

If you need more info on this guy, contact archives in both the 'Reno Gazette' and Incline newspaper the 'Bonanza', or just simply google Elliott Schmerler and scroll through the many pages of convictions and court appearances.

Citizen Deux
Citizen Deux

Interesting and powerful article. As a state which permits all manner of "alternaitve" practices and beliefs, this is one whihc has the power (and has) to harm the public. There is no need for a separate board to regulate homeopathic doctors. Setting aside the unproven science behind the pseudo-religious homeopathy itself, there are too many other aspects left to potentially dangerous, untrained individuals to practice on an unsuspecting public.

Many consumers do not realize that complementary and alternative medicine is often in that category because there is no science to support its efficacy! It is understandable for people to seek out treatment to provide relief from chronic ills, untreatable by conventional medicine, but it is the responsibility of the state to make sure those "secondary" paths are not fraught with peril from fraudulent practicioners.

I think you did not go far enough in this article.

Marcy
Marcy

Homopathetic "doctors" are one big step below chiroquacks on the big scale of medicine.

You might as well visit a witch doctor.

Lauren
Lauren

I'm not going to argue your statement about those doctors you mentioned becoming Homeopathic doctors in Arizona because I have no facts. Speaking of facts, however, your "impression" of homeopathy is completely incorrect. Homeopathic medicine does not believe in injecting people with pollen, etc. It's disappointing that you didn't do your research on it before writing the article. Get your facts straight!

AZ Mom
AZ Mom

No one condones professional misconduct by doctors but I agree with #1, it is long overdue to cover the professional misconduct by lawyers, prosecutorial misconduct by prosecutors in the County Attorney's office and others who in law enforcement, legal, judicial and prison systems, who destroy lives, families and children with reckless abandon and they do it without a conscience or even looking back -- as they "move on" to the next political career move! We want to hear about these stories and ruined lives.

selly
selly

Seems the medicine and technology are becoming more and more advanced. Not sure if any doctor can cure HIV or AIDS. I heard that bisexuals or gays are easily infected with that. But I have some bisexual friends on the site BiLoves, they told me they haven't been like that since there are some experts like Beth to guide them about that.

HOW ABOUT THE LAWYERS NEXT?
HOW ABOUT THE LAWYERS NEXT?

This article brings to mind --- Do us a public service with a series on lawyers and the damage they have done to thousands of lives and families, women and children. Lawyers destroy lives, too, by not doing their job, as more and more people get thrown into Arizona prisons or are coerced into pleas, losing their right to vote and have a voice, or get a job. The "Pew Prison Report - 1 in 100 adults in Prison", people sitting in jails and prisons in harsh and inhumane conditions. A blind eye is turned on this destruction of life and harm to our society. All those sitting in prison had lawyers.

It's time the lawyers were held to the same standards as a doctor or nurse, and not protected by immunity and Bar associations that do nothing. At least the medical boards take immediate action.

Now that you are exposing the medical professionals for their failures. We hope you do an in depth series on the damage the lawyers, both prosecutors and defense, have caused to the thousands of destroyed lives, families, women, children and the future of our society, as they "move on" to become our judges, elected officials and legislators, writing policies that affect us all.

Those living in the State of Arizona are currently paying a huge price in both in human misery and tax dollars for the damage of a broken legal system that no one is trying to fix. Lawyers here just keep collecting the huge fees, with no accountability. No insurance coverage for the people. Lawyers, with many bar complaints, are still seen in the courtrooms, year after year, still destroying lives. This a serious issue that needs to have sunlight shine harshly on the bad lawyers destroying lives daily. Let's hear those stories!

 
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