A Michigan doctor who performed liposuction inside a pole-barn clinic has been barred from practice, authorities say.
This week, state officials announced they suspended Dr. Bradley Bastow’s osteopathic physician’s license for numerous violations, including conducting lipo procedures inside an unfinished storage building.
The 60-year-old cardiologist is accused of illegally performing plastic surgery—and illegally dumping medical waste down the drain, among other alleged violations—at his Body Laser Sculpting Medical Spa in Glenn, Michigan.
Bastow, whose cardiology website says he enjoys golf and marble collecting, did not return calls seeking comment.
The director of Michigan’s Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs called Bastow’s facility “dangerous and deplorable.”
“Our investigation found that Dr. Bastow’s conduct was negligent, incompetent and lacked good moral character,” LARA Director Shelly Edgerton said in a statement, adding that “the dangerous and deplorable conditions of Dr. Bastow’s facility warranted an immediate suspension of his medical license.”
Authorities began pursuing Bastow—who on LinkedIn calls himself a marbles collector at the business “docmarbles”—when one patient ended up in the emergency room following a liposuction procedure.
The patient, identified only as C.R., visited Bastow’s pole-barn surgery center on April 20. The treatment began at 11 a.m. and lasted until 9 p.m., according to an administrative complaint released on Monday.
Bastow’s assistant, who allegedly has no medical training and is not licensed, administered shots of the opioid Demerol, the complaint states.
The doctor allegedly dumped fat—removed from under C.R.’s skin—down the facility’s regular sink drain instead of properly disposing the biological waste. The doctor also placed leftover fat in baggies, which were then discarded in a plastic container without a lid and without biohazard symbols, authorities say.
C.R.’s mother and sister, who were allowed to sit with the patient during the appointment, phoned an ambulance after she appeared drowsy and drifting in and out of consciousness, according to the complaint.
Allegan County fire and sheriff’s departments responded to Bastow’s building, and C.R. was transported to the hospital. (A WOOD TV8 report indicated the patient was having problems breathing.)
Bastow has operated his plastic surgery firm from the unfinished pole barn from 2015 to April 2017, authorities say.
In June 2016, a court ordered Bastow to bring the facility into compliance with a site plan approved by the Ganges Township within 30 days. The court also banned all activity but site construction until Bastow obtained a certificate of occupancy.
Despite this order, Bastow continued to perform lipo out of the unfinished pole barn, investigators say.
A search warrant revealed that Bastow allegedly failed to maintain sanitary conditions; properly store medical waste; properly store controlled substances; and properly dispense and keep records of prescription medications.
Bastow allegedly let staff dispense controlled substances when he wasn’t present at the clinic. He also failed to separate expired and non-expired drugs and mixed drugs for human and animal use, authorities say.
During one May 10 inspection, Bastow allegedly admitted to taking Tramadol, an opioid pain medication, from the facility for personal use.
Earlier this month, a former intern told Newschannel 3 that Bastow “should have been shut down a long time ago.”
Cherokee Mathis, who is studying to be a medical assistant, claimed that Bastow and his girlfriend were living inside the clinic, alongside multiple cats and dogs.
“One day the dog actually walked in there when somebody was getting lipo and she asked, ‘Is this dog supposed to be in here?’” Mathis told Newschannel 3. “That can cause a major infection.”
Mathis said she reported her concerns to school supervisors, who didn’t remove her from her post with Bastow. She said she continued to witness dangerous practices at the facility, including staff reusing medical supplies like EKG electrodes from patient to patient, Newschannel 3 reported.
Eventually, clinic staff stopped cleaning blood splatters on the walls and properly disposing of biohazardous materials like needles, dirty rags and human fat, Mathis said. “They literally just throw all that stuff in the trash,” she said.
Meanwhile, former lipo patients told FOX 17 that Bastow’s treatments at his previous South Haven office were a “nightmare.”
“They left me with the dog in an operating room that wasn’t an operating room, it was a closet,” Mary Rotondo, a 2009 patient, told the TV station. “It was so small and so horrible. It was a nightmare that I just want to let go.”
Rotondo recalled Bastow telling her, “Well, just think Mary, if you die on the table I can save you. I’m a cardiologist.”
When Rotondo woke from anesthesia, she says she was alone except for someone’s dog in the operating room. She drove herself home after the 15-hour lipo session, she told FOX 17.
“The dog was there, the barking, and I went looking around for them calling, and nobody came in so I laid back down for another hour,” she said. “I was wide awake and I was scared, I didn’t know what to do, my legs were bloody.”
Another woman, who saw Bastow twice in 2012 for “water jet liposuction,” said she remembers the doctor “pushing that thing in there and he’s just got his eyes glued on TV, he’s not even looking where he’s pushing it."
The anonymous patient showed FOX 17 medical paperwork indicating she was in the ER for blood clots in her lungs and legs days after her procedure with Bastow. “I spent almost a week in the hospital and I had two or three transfusions and they thought I was having heart problems,” she said.
Both women said Bastow never evaluated them prior to their procedures. He simply asked for cash upfront, they claim. “It was shady, I mean it was scary,” the anonymous patient said. “The building itself wasn’t clean-looking.”
On Bastow’s Body Laser Sculpting website, the doctor says he is licensed in Michigan and Florida and has been performing cosmetic procedures since 1989.
“People ask me all the time, how did a Cardiologist begin performing cosmetic procedures?” he wrote on his page.
The question, however, is not answered.