Channel 2 Investigates

Patient says she woke up from surgery in hotel room with sandwich in hand

ATLANTA — A local dermatologist who offers in-office cosmetic surgery is under fire after a Channel 2 Action News, Atlanta Journal-Constitution consumer investigation.

At least seven malpractice lawsuits against the doctor include claims she used unqualified staff during procedures that left former patients disfigured. Two additional lawsuit settlements are listed on the state licensing website.

Attorney Susan Witt told consumer investigator Jim Strickland that, for more than two years, Georgia's Composite Medical Board has had evidence that Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte's medical practices were unsafe.

“I think there is a small U-Haul’s worth of information that has been provided to the Composite Medical Board,” attorney Susan Witt said. Strickland asked her what action she’s seen from the board. “Absolutely nothing," she said.

Music videos in the operating room

Boutte’s more than 20 YouTube marketing videos are also the subject of at least one lawsuit. Some feature the board-certified dermatologist dancing around exposed, unmoving patients while performing customized renditions of popular songs, such as “Bad and Boujee," "Building up Fat in the Booty" and “Gut Don’t Live Here Anymore.”

“For a surgeon to be singing while she is cutting into a patient is very unprofessional and dangerous,” said Dr. Marisa Lawrence.

Lawrence is a board-certified plastic surgeon and the former chief of plastic surgery at Northside Hospital. “It’s an operating theater, not an acting theater. It really is inappropriate to behave in such a manor.”

Witt represents 26-year-old Ojay Liburd, whose mother, Icilma Cornelius, was left with brain damage after undergoing an eight-hour liposuction and an additional abdominal procedure in Boutte’s Lilburn office. Cornelius was weeks away from her wedding and credits away from earning her Ph.D. Her injuries were so severe, the wedding was called off, and she will need care for the rest of her life.

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Sisters file malpractice lawsuits 

Witt is also representing sisters Kristine Dolly and Mitzi McFarland.

"How did you feel when you looked at yourself in the mirror?” Strickland asked Dolly. “Horrified. Like, 'What have I done to myself?” she replied. McFarland said her abdomen looks like something out of a horror movie. 

The sisters said they were each expecting a procedure called SmartLipo, an upscale technique in which a laser is used to remove fat. Through the course of their case against the doctor, they learned Boutte actually performed conventional liposuction.

When McFarland later went to Boutte for a “revision” procedure, she was told she would not be heavily sedated and would not need a ride home. McFarland said she woke up the next morning in a hotel near the doctor’s office.

“I was put to sleep, and then I woke up some 18 hours later in the hotel bedroom with a McDonald’s sandwich in my hand, one bite out of it,” McFarland said. She also showed Strickland a receipt from her hotel stay on which her name was misspelled as “Mitzy." McFarland believes Boutte forged her signature. 

In a deposition, Lee Brown, an employee of Boutte said she and the doctor drove McFarland to the hotel. She also said Boutte would have handled the check-in. 

Brown is listed on the website as the clinical nurse manager with over 20 years' experience in the nursing profession. Brown is not a registered nurse, and did not complete nursing school. In a deposition, Boutte said she did not think Brown’s title was misleading.  

“I’m angry and I’m appalled they would allow her to continue to operate under these circumstances,” McFarland said. 

Is Boutte misleading potential clients?

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 perform operations, even if they are not a board-certified surgeon.

“When you are licensed to practice medicine in Georgia, you’re licensed to practice medicine and surgery. It says so right on your license,” said Dr. Dan DeLoach, a board-certified plastic surgeon and chair of the Georgia Composite Medical Board.

“I do think there is a minority, a tiny minority of physicians who are practicing beyond their scope,” DeLoach said. He would not comment on Boutte directly because of the medical board’s strict confidentiality rules. 

DeLoach denied the board is slow to move on investigations into licensed doctors. “You don’t want to rush to judgement and end up making an error that could be very professionally harmful,” he said. 

Of five recent settlements Boutte reached, Strickland learned only two are listed on her state medical profile.  

McFarland and Dolly are frustrated by the lack of action. “Somebody needs to hold her accountable,” McFarland said.   

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