Parsa and Cabanillas, Medical Abusers

From the Plaintiff’s Complaint in Jane Doe vs. El Paso County Hospital District, No. 3-13-CV-406-DB, in the United States District Court for the Western District of Texas, El Paso Division:

9. Defendant Michael Parsa is a medical doctor employed by the University Medical Center of El Paso. At all times relevant to this Complaint, he was acting in the course and within the scope of his employment. He is sued in his individual capacity.

10. Defendant Christopher Cabanillas is a medical doctor employed by the University Medical Center of El Paso. At all times relevant to this Complaint, he was acting in the course and within the scope of his employment. He is sued in his individual capacity.

* * * * *

35. Without obtaining consent or obtaining a detailed medical history, Defendants Doctor Christopher Cabanillas and Doctor Michael Parsa (collectively called “Doctors”) continued the search for drugs along with agents Portillo and Herrera.

36. Medical Center staff wheeled a portable toilet into the room and directed Ms. Doe to ingest a laxative. CBP agents Portillo and Herrera removed the tape from Ms. Doe’s pants and remained in the room with her while the laxative took effect. The agents observed Ms. Doe have a bowel movement. No evidence of internal drug smuggling was found as a result of this search.

37. Defendant Cabanillas, in consultation with Defendant Parsa, ordered an X-ray of Ms. Doe’s abdomen. Medical Center staff X-rayed Ms. Doe, subjecting her to unnecessary radiation. According to medical records, the exam produced “[n]o evidence of radiopaque foreign bodies.”

Ms. Doe’s Anus and Vagina Were Probed Without a Warrant, Consent or Any Suspicion of Internal Drug Smuggling

38. Even though prior searches resulted in no evidence of internal drug smuggling, CBP agents and the Doctors continued the intrusion on Ms. Doe’s body without her consent and without a warrant.

39. After the X-ray, Ms. Doe was again handcuffed to the examination table. CBP agents Portillo and Herrera and Medical Center personnel were present in the room. Defendants left the door to the examining room open, and Ms. Doe could see hospital personnel at the nurses’ station in the hallway. She was angry that CBP had not released her and scared about what would happen next.

40. Defendant Parsa entered the examination room and barked an order that Ms. Doe spread her legs. She complied.

41. Ms. Doe was mortified. Defendants did not even have the decency to close the door to the examining room so that Ms. Doe would not also be subjected to being observed by passersby as she endured a forced gynecological exam.

42. Defendant Parsa then conducted a series of examinations. While agents Portillo and Herrera and other Medical Center staff watched, he inserted a speculum into Ms. Doe’s vagina and observed the interior cavity. According to medical records, Defendant Parsa did not see any foreign objects or evidence of internal drug smuggling.

43. Defendant Parsa also stuck his fingers into Ms. Doe’s vagina while palpitating her abdomen. This bimanual cavity search was negative: According to medical records, Defendant Parsa did not feel any foreign objects or evidence of internal drug smuggling.

44. Defendant Parsa also conducted a rectal examination: he inserted his fingers into Ms. Doe’s rectum and probed the orifice for foreign bodies. According to medical records, Defendant Parsa did not feel any or find evidence of internal drug smuggling.

45. While her rectum was being probed, agents Portillo and Herrera and Medical Center staff watched. Ms. Doe felt that she was being treated less than human, like an animal.

46. Ms. Doe was shocked and humiliated by these exceedingly intrusive searches. That an audience of CBP agents and Medical Center staff observed her being probed compounded her feeling of degradation.

The Government Continued Searching Ms. Doe Even After Visual and Physical Inspections of Her Vaginal and Rectal Cavities Produced No Evidence of Internal Drug Smuggling

47. Still not satisfied, CBP and the Medical Center employees subjected Ms. Doe to yet another procedure.

48. Defendant Cabanillas, in consultation with Defendant Parsa, ordered a CT exam of Ms. Doe’s abdomen and pelvis. During the CT scan, Medical Center staff barraged Ms. Doe’s body to create a three dimensional image with more detail than a typical X-ray. In so doing, they forcibly exposed her to “between 150 and 1,100 times the radiation of a conventional x-ray, or around a year’s worth of exposure to radiation from both natural and artificial sources in the environment.” According to medical records, the exam resulted in “[n]o . . . evidence of ingested radiopaque objects.”

49. After the CT scan, a CBP agent presented Ms. Doe with a choice: she could either sign a medical consent form, despite the fact that she had not consented, in which case CBP would pay for the cost of the searches; or if she refused to sign the consent form, she would be billed for the cost of the searches. She refused. The Medical Center consent form reflects that Ms. Doe withheld consent: “Refusal to Sign” is written in the patient signature line, a refusal witnessed by Jessica R.

I filed a complaint against Dr. Emmette Flynn for doing the same thing; the Texas Medical Board ultimately found that “Dr. Flynn acted appropriately in the care and treatment of RG, in compliance with a court order.”—the Nuremberg defense, “just following orders.”

In Flynn’s case, there was a warrant, which is irrelevant to medical ethics—an unnecessary medical procedure should never be performed on a patient without consent—but mattered to the Texas Medical Board. It’s useful information, that the Texas Medical Board goes so far afield from the fundamental principle of autonomy (not to mention the first precept of the Hippocratic Oath) to justify doctors helping the government.

Michael Parsa and Christopher Cabanillas don’t have a warrant to excuse their medical abuse of Jane Doe; let’s find out how the Texas Medical Board will rationalize this one.

13 responses to “Parsa and Cabanillas, Medical Abusers”

  1. Calling that “the Nuremberg Defense” is completely unfair to the Nazis. Those guys actually had direct orders, with penalties for refusing. Cabanillas just had a vague promise that he could rape a woman under the aegis of law, if he felt like it.

    I try to be nice. I try to make allowances, and to give everyone the benefit of the doubt plus a little extra. Here though, this was an abhorrent act, dragged out over hours. I can’t even imagine any excuse that makes this okay.

  2. I’m trying very hard to imagine the mentality of these two doctors.
    Third-year medical school was my first exposure to real clinical care, and it’s a profound responsibility. Learning how to do a bi-manual or speculum pelvic exam is easy. Overcoming the strong personal boundaries, asking the patient, making them comfortable, respecting their privacy in such an un-private moment…those were difficult.

    To abuse that relationship like this? I simply cannot imagine it.

    Reading the text accounts is very different than the real-life situation. It took hours, during which she was no doubt sobbing, crying, screaming at them, and possibly physically resisting.

    It’s the perfect example of a real-life Milgram experiment.

    I hate to be Internet Tough Guy. But I’m absolutely certain of what I’d do if this happened to family or close friends…and I think, absent the moral restraints that used to make this unthinkable, that direct action might be the only sufficient disincentive for the next little Dr. Sociopath.

    One side note: it troubles me a little that the complaints mention drugs were not found. It shouldn’t matter; the actions were morally/ethically disgusting whether or not arbitrarily illegal substances were involved.

      • I’d love to think so too Mark….but they’re probably the last people that will.
        Imagine the mentality of doctors who become part of that board; they’re the same plastic-smiled back-slapping little sociopaths who started their careers running for sinecure student government spots.

        I’ve met with TMB members during residency. My wife deals with the same people at her hospitals’ various boards. With few exceptions, they’re clinically inadequate with a heavy sprinkling of control-freak…in other words, exactly the authoritarian type who’ll continue this behavior.

        The other non-violent route will be getting their colleagues to shun them. Decent doctors made aware of these acts recoil in horror.

      • If you Google Emmette Flynn, one of my posts about him pops up first. I like to think that when doctors realize this it will encourage them to reaffirm their commitment to medical ethics in the face of government goons’ demands.

      • If enough bloggers started posting this stuff, it’d be effectively a Google bomb without any shenanigans so it’d have sticking power. Such people are generally very self-conscious – earning #1 on Google, and perhaps #1-10 would be very fitting and it’d have a huge disincentive effect. You are str8 up heroic for many reasons Mark, publicizing Emmette Flynn and these monsters is just one of many reasons. Keep up the awesome work!

  3. If this was a member of my family the former United States of America would now be missing two asshole doctors and 2 Nazi CBP officers. Then if their bosses had a problem with it. They would be next no matter how friggin far up the chain I had to go to remove the criminals

    • If I was on your jury, you’d be home in time to catch a late lunch – but in truth, you’d likely get squashed, killed and then smeared as a terrorist or something. I think the best means we have now is as stated below, naming and shaming. Hell, we should get a kickstarter going to buy billboard space right near the hospital and near the dr’s houses and any place they frequent. Let them look at the billboards each morning – let everyone that knows them do the same. That wouldn’t fix past indiscretions (other than revenge, which I generally think is silly but would certainly be justified here) but would make a lot of other people think twice (you have to think there’s a lot of clustering in the medical community in terms of where they live and where kids go to school). Being a pariah among your peers is the one fitting punishment and it’d be a good start.

  4. former United States of America would now be missing two

    I would hope that some caution would be included. Making such statements and doing such things, while leaving traces, may violate local regulations. Consult with someone familiar with the local law before causing goons to go missing.

  5. I can’t tell if it’s getting more common or if it’s just getting more exposure when it does – in any case, it seems like the power law enforcement has is just snowballing. Hopefully enough people will get fed up and something will be done, but in the meantime, the one sure fire solution is to NAME and SHAME. Let the good doctors and CBP officer’s actions be known far and wide, let their family members pressure them to stop this crap. They aren’t mutually exclusive, but naming and shaming can be done immediately (and kudos to Mark for doing his part). It won’t be long before some state or the feds try to pass a law banning people from publicizing these things (they’ll no doubt claim it puts the perpetrators and their family’s in danger). Even though I’m an American Citizen, my wife and I have had the misfortune of getting on an ICE Agent’s bad side (former CBP agent too – I believe in El Paso) – she claims even mentioning her name or linking to something with her in it puts her family in danger.

    They are really tough with guns and battle gear, but they cry like no one else when anyone even remotely stands up to them.

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