By John Dickerson
Dr. Gary Page (pictured above), a former Arizona homeopathic physician, has been indicted by a grand jury on one count of manslaughter. The charge results from Page's using his homeopathic license (or M.D.h.) to perform a cosmetic surgery, as New Times reported in April. Page's patient died after the July 2007 procedure.
Page was among a handful of homeopathic doctors highlighted in the medical series Prescription for Disaster. The story Dr. Loophole told of the young Dr. Gary Page's troubles in previous states and his migration with his wife and five children to Gilbert.
Page, like many other doctors, is ineligible to secure a conventional M.D. license in Arizona because of past disciplinary actions. But, like a handful of other doctors, he applied for and received a homeopathic (or M.D.h.) license here. Arizona is one of three states to offer a homeopathic license -- which arms tarnished doctors with the same prescribing and office-visit privileges as a regular M.D.s
The only catch is that homeopathic doctors aren't allowed to perform significant surgeries -- like the liposuction that Page performed hours before Leslie Ann Ray, 53, died. Ray died after Page performed the procedure in the office of Dr. Peter Normann -- another disgraced M.D. who had already been banned by the Arizona Medical Board from practicing cosmetic surgery in Arizona.
Normann faces two charges of second-degree murder resulting from two other patients who died after visiting his cosmetic surgery clinic.
Jose Andres Lopez, who allegedly worked in a medical capacity but is only a massage therapist, has also been charged with eight counts of practicing medicine without a license.
While it's evident that Page slipped through a licensing loophole and even broke the laws that govern homeopathic physicians in Arizona, it's not so clear that he committed manslaughter -- as County Attorney Andrew Thomas is charging. That will be a question for a court to answer.
Thomas and Arpaio (who were quick to issue press releases and are enjoying publicity from the arrest -- two weeks before the election) are confident that Page caused the death.
“The death of this patient rises above the level of a tragedy," Thomas said in a statement. "We believe that a crime has been committed. We appreciate the exhaustive efforts of the Sheriff’s Office in investigating these deaths.” He made no mention of New Times' reporting.
Dr. Normann -- who authorities think has fled the country -- should be easier to prosecute for murder, since he has more than one victim.
At Homeopathic Board meetings, Page told the board that he left the patient in good condition at Normann's office, after the surgery. She died, he says, after he left.
Unfortunately, while Page is being charged with manslaughter, nothing has been done to close the loophole that allowed him and other disgraced doctors to practice in Arizona in the first place