ATLANTA - Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte’s website calls her “Atlanta’s most experienced cosmetic surgeon,” but a Channel 2 Action News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution consumer investigation discovered she’s had plenty of experience dealing with malpractice cases.
Boutte refused to answer Channel 2 consumer investigator Jim Strickland’s questions about five malpractice settlements, four pending lawsuits against the doctor, and more than 20 videos previously posted on YouTube.
Some featured the board-certified dermatologist dancing and singing around exposed, unmoving patients. In one Boutte made incisions while she sang and cavorted to the camera.
One of those lawsuits was filed by 26-year-old Ojay Liburd. He agreed to talk to Strickland about his mother’s visit to Boutte’s Gwinnett County office, because his mother no longer can.
According to court records Liburd’s mother, Icilma Cornelius, saw Boutte for a liposuction and a panniculectomy. It was weeks before her wedding, and she was credits away from earning her Ph.D.
“She just wanted to be perfect for her wedding dress,” Liburd explained to Strickland. “She had everything going for her.”
She never got the chance to wear her wedding dress, or get married. After a more than eight-hour procedure, Cornelius’ heart stopped. She suffered permanent brain damage and will need care for the rest of her life.
Cornelius first visited Boutte’s Lilburn office, Premier Aesthetic Center, in early 2016. She consulted with staff about fillers and Botox for her face before her wedding. By the end of the consultation she was scheduled for surgery.
“I just wanted to keep her costs down and give her what she needed from a lipo-sculpting standpoint for her wedding. I told her, ‘that's my present to you’.” Boutte said in deposition.
During her procedure on Feb. 18, 2016, Cornelius was not intubated, and did not receive general anesthesia. She was given a cocktail of drugs, including Propofol and fentanyl. The lawsuit claimed no end-tidal CO2 monitoring equipment was used during the procedure. In deposition Boutte said staff contracted to administer anesthesia did not think end-tidal CO2 monitoring was necessary.
Boutte does not have hospital admitting privileges, and her Lilburn office is not a licensed surgery center. In deposition Boutte said she did not have her facility certified, as suggested by the Georgia Composite Medical Board.
Cornelius went into cardiac arrest while Boutte was sewing her tummy tuck incision. Her certified registered nurse anesthetist who was monitoring Cornelius’ vitals had already left the room.
A staffer in Boutte’s office called 911 for help. Once first responders stabilized Cornelius, it took Boutte nearly 30 minutes to finish sewing up Cornelius’ abdomen.
The Premier Aesthetic Center elevator was too small for the stretcher, so first responders had to carry Cornelius down the stairs, according to court records.
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Liburd said he saw Boutte in the emergency room.
“The doctor really made it seem like she was going to be OK,” Liburd said. “She just made it seem like it would be fine.”
Liburd’s lawsuit against Boutte settled earlier this year. While the settlement is confidential, a question Liburd’s attorney, Susan Witt, asked Boutte during deposition speaks volumes.
“Are you aware that her life care plan is in excess of $13 million for the care that she's going to require in the future?” Witt asked.
“No,” Boutte responded. When asked why she did not offer Liburd a refund for Cornelius’ procedure, Boutte told Witt, “until now I really wasn't even thinking about what she paid or what she didn't pay, because I did $20,000 worth of work for $11,000.”
Boutte’s website states “Dr. Boutté is board certified in both surgery and dermatology.” According to state medical records, Boutte is a board-certified dermatologist, and is not board certified in general surgery or plastic surgery. In Georgia it is legal for any physician to operate, even if they are not a board-certified surgeon.
Witt said she has seen a rise in physicians performing cosmetic procedures because they are typically paid in cash and not covered by insurance.
“She is still getting up and going to work every day and making a great deal of money, subjecting patients who are none the wiser to her unsafe practices,” Witt told Strickland.
Sisters file lawsuits
Witt also represents Mitzi McFarland and her sister Kristine Dolly. They saw Boutte in May 2015 after reading reviews on the doctor’s website. Both sisters wanted Smart Lipo—a procedure that uses lasers to remove fat. Through their lawsuits against Boutte each learned the doctor performed conventional liposuction, not the procedure they consented to. Both sisters said were mortified by the results of Boutte’s procedures.
“It’s more like Freddie Krueger cut my stomach,” McFarland said.
McFarland and Dolly were operated on by Boutte weeks apart. The sisters said they were offered a limited time sister discount for their procedure.
“I don’t feel like a normal person,” Dolly said told Strickland. “I just feel deformed.”
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