A day after Sherita Cox had a cosmetic makeover by Dr. Windell Davis-Boutte, she struggled to breathe and was bleeding from surgical incisions. Taken by ambulance to a hospital, she was found to have a collapsed lung and be suffering from anemia due to acute blood loss.
Her case apparently pushed the Georgia Composite Medical Board to finally take action against the Gwinnett physician. Investigators for the board interviewed Cox on Wednesday at Grady Memorial Hospital, and on Thursday morning the board issued an emergency suspension of Davis-Boutte’s license.
In its order, the board said it found that her continued practice of medicine “poses a threat to the public health, safety and welfare and imperatively requires emergency action…”
The action came too late for many of her patients. The board started receiving complaints at least two years ago alleging that patients undergoing cosmetic surgery at Davis-Boutte’s office had been harmed. The physician’s case has drawn national attention since an Atlanta Journal-Constitution/Channel 2 Action News story last month highlighted the problems at Davis-Boutte’s practice.
One patient suffered permanent brain damage after her heart stopped following seven hours of surgery. Other patients said that cosmetic procedures left them disfigured. Some former patients also said that their privacy was invaded when Davis-Boutte posted photos or videos of their exposed bodies on social media sites. Videos posted on YouTube showed Davis-Boutte dancing and singing as she operated.
The board’s order cites the case of a woman who went to Davis-Boutte on May 30 for liposuction, breast augmentation and a Brazilian Butt Lift. That patient went for a post-operative visit on May 31, but Davis-Boutte didn’t see or evaluate her then, the order says.
Later that evening, the patient had to be taken to the hospital, and she still was hospitalized as of yesterday, the order says.
While it doesn’t name the patient, the order lists the patient’s initials, and attorney Susan Witt, who is now representing Cox, confirmed that board investigators interviewed her client at Grady on Wednesday.
Witt said she brought the case to the board’s attention just days after the surgery. For Witt, the board action to suspend Davis-Boutte’s license is long overdue.
She has represented four clients who have sued the doctor, and she said in recent weeks she has received more than 100 calls from other patients who said they’d suffered similar problems from Davis-Boutte’s surgeries.
Witt blames both the medical board and the state attorney general’s office for not taking swifter action to suspend Davis-Boutte’s license.
“Many women have been harmed unnecessarily by the board’s procrastination…,” Witt said. “I’ve been pulling my hair out. Why haven’t you done something?”
Davis-Boutte, who dubbed herself “doctor to the stars!” on her website, performed up to six surgeries a day, six days a week since the first complaints to the board in 2016, Witt said.
Witt credited the AJC/Channel 2 coverage for prompting the board to finally act. The stories and videos the news organizations posted drew national attention, becoming a source of embarrassment for Georgia medical regulators.
Medical Board Chairman Dr. E. Daniel DeLoach said the board took action after additional information was brought its attention late last week or early this week. He would not comment about specifics of the case, citing an ongoing investigation.
DeLoach also said the board reviews every complaint, takes the job seriously and responds responsibly to all complaints. He said he’s aware of the second-guessing of the board’s handling of the case, and that a review of how it was handled will likely occur. That is not unusual, he said.
“I think if we look at many events in our lives and many of the actions we take, in retrospect, we might have done things somewhat differently,” he said.
The board’s order says it appointed a medical consultant to review complaints about the doctor. The earliest case mentioned in the order dates back to August 2014. The order offers no details about what went wrong, but says the consultant concluded the “diagnosis, treatment and record-keeping” did not meet minimal standards.
Davis-Boute has not responded to AJC interview requests. In an interview with CNN, she said that patients consented to the music videos of their surgeries.
Lawsuits have accused Davis-Boute of using unqualified staff, misleading patients and subjecting them to an office that is not safe for the types of surgeries performed. She operates at her Lilburn medical office.
She has settled at least four malpractice lawsuits, according to information posted on the medical board’s website.
Looking out for you
A joint investigation by the AJC’s Carrie Teegardin and Channel 2 Action News last month highlighted concerns about the safety of cosmetic surgeries in Georgia. The investigation found Georgia has virtually no limits on which doctors can do cosmetic surgery, where they can do it, and how they advertise. And while the state has a licensing process for outpatient surgery centers that requires them to meet certain standards, the investigation found that by not seeking a license, doctors can do surgeries in their office without being subjected to the rules.