California Medical Board Member Calls Out the Agency’s Failures With Accountability

You Have Rights As A Worker. I Will Help Protect Them.
Denis ZilberbergNovember 17, 2021Whistleblower

Eserick “TJ” Watkins is not a doctor, but he is one of the seven non-physician members actively serving on the 15-member panel comprising the California Medical Board. Since being appointed in 2019, he has been observing the board from the inside. Now, he is speaking out, blowing the whistle on the board’s accountability issues.

Change is not easy, especially when the issues in need of change are entangled in the very fabric of certain industries. It only takes one person brave enough to stand up and make a difference. The Westlake Village whistleblower attorneys at The Kaufman Law Firm will stand beside the whistleblowers.

A Good Reason to Sound the Alarm

A 2018 54-page board ruling listed the misconduct of Dr. Jason Helliwell, an OB-GYN who also performs cosmetic procedures. The list included:

  • Over-prescribing medications
  • Engaging in a sexual relationship with a patient
  • Gross negligence in four patients’ treatment

The board found Helliwell to have “a fundamental lack of knowledge,” but instead of revoking his medical license, he was given a 42-month probation period, limiting his practice. He also had to attend assessment and ethics classes and could not treat female patients without a chaperone.

Helliwell has since been arrested and charged with 32 felony counts for fraudulent medical billing and named a co-defendant in a malpractice lawsuit after a young mother died during childbirth in 2020.

Yet, Helliwell’s California medical license remains active. His practice is still open.

Over the last five years, the California Medical Board has received more than 50,000 complaints against doctors. Only 201 licenses have been revoked.

The Whistleblower

Watkins is a strength coach, co-founder of a medical imaging research company, and has served on California’s Physical Therapy Board before becoming a member of the medical board.

For the last two years, he has pressured the board to hold doctors accountable, but he says the board is bullied by powerful physician lobbying groups and fails to seriously discipline doctors who hurt patients. He believes this failure has resulted in inpatient deaths.

The medical board claims “The law requires the Board to…take disciplinary action designed to rehabilitate their licensees so long as it is not inconsistent with public protection.” As far as Helliwell is concerned, they were “unable to share further information as the Board’s complaints and investigations are confidential by law.”

Watkins fields hundreds of allegations, ranging from over-prescribed addiction and lost limbs to mysterious deaths. He used to bring the complaints before the board for investigation and disciplinary hearings, but now, he does not see the point. He states the panel is more interested in protecting fellow doctors than it is in protecting the public.

When should I contact a lawyer?

Not every workplace or institution deals with whistleblowers as non-aggressively as the California Medical Board. Whistleblowers are often threatened with demotions and terminations. Standing up for what is right should never cost someone their position or job.

The Westlake Village whistleblower attorneys at The Kaufman Law Firm have two decades of experience dealing with complex cases. We are committed to protecting the rights of employees who file legitimate complaints.

Do not let fear of retaliation keep you from acting against unjust systems. Contact us for an initial consultation by clicking here or calling us at 818-990-1999.


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