After settling seven lawsuits for $1.3 million, Tulsa doctor’s license set for review

Masters, who the medical board says has no formal surgical training, had her medical license restricted to not perform surgeries in 2016.

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A Tulsa doctor who had her license restricted in 2016 prohibiting her from performing surgeries has been accused by the Oklahoma Medical Board of misconduct including repeated negligence and acting incompetently.

Dr. Leslie Masters allegedly failed to have ongoing laboratory work on patients, didn’t take necessary steps to ensure patient safety and failed to adequately document procedures, a medical board complaint states.

“In addition, there is no documentation showing that assisting personnel were licensed health professionals,” the complaint says.

At a medical board meeting last month, Masters requested a voluntary submittal to jurisdiction — similar to a settlement agreement — in lieu of a formal hearing into the allegations, but the board denied that request. A hearing is slated for July.

Masters did not respond to messages seeking comment, and an attorney representing her didn’t return a phone call.

The board launched an investigation after discovering Masters reached a $750,000 settlement in a case alleging a patient died during a liposuction surgery. Masters settled seven lawsuits related to liposuction surgery for more than $1.3 million between March 2011 and April 2015, Oklahoma Medical Board records indicate.

Dr. Leslie Masters. NewsOn6

The investigation’s findings, outlined in a complaint filed in August, allege Masters committed five violations under Oklahoma law, including failure to keep adequate medical records, gross or repeated negligence and behavior demonstrating an incapacity or incompetence to practice medicine and surgery with reasonable skill and safety.

The agreement Masters and her attorney proposed to the medical board last month isn’t public record because it was denied, said Reji Varghese, the medical board’s deputy executive director. It was rejected because the board wants to conduct a hearing on the case, he said.

As a result of next month’s hearing, Masters could be reprimanded or have her medical license suspended or revoked.

Investigation

The Oklahoma Medical Board, which licenses and oversees the actions of the state’s physicians and surgeons, started investigating Masters after the National Practitioner Data Bank sent notification of a $750,000 settlement in a medical malpractice lawsuit against Masters.

The malpractice lawsuit alleged a patient died during a 2014 liposuction surgery.

The seven lawsuits the medical board cites in its complaint stemmed from surgeries Masters performed from 2008 to 2014 involving injuries allegedly caused by or resulting from cosmetic procedures, liposuction in particular.

Masters, who has no formal surgical training according to medical board documents, has been licensed to practice in Oklahoma since 2000 and has no certifications, Oklahoma Medical Board records indicate. She completed a residency in internal medicine and a fellowship in oncology, which involves the study and treatment of tumors. She specializes in nutrition, internal medicine and general preventive medicine.

During a 2016 interview with NewsOn6, Masters said she had 17 years of postgraduate training and more than 20 years as a practicing physician.

An expert from the medical board reviewed seven patients records who filed medical malpractice lawsuits against Masters.




A board expert found the charts indicated Masters regularly performed multiple liposuction procedures in short time periods on the same patient. Masters did not have ongoing laboratory work performed on the patients, risking harm, the board’s complaint alleges.

The expert said patient records indicated several instances in which Masters failed to take adequate documentation of procedures, patient health histories or conduct physical examinations.

The complaint alleges Masters failed to take steps to safely discharge patients and that at least two patients reviewed were discharged with oxygen saturation levels around 90 percent when safe levels are between 95 and 100 percent.

Patient records also indicate they were given “large” amounts of sedatives and were undergoing “conscious sedation,” the complaint alleges. The patient who died during a liposuction surgery allegedly received an injection of Versed — used to cause drowsiness before surgery of other procedures — during the procedure.

The complaint alleges Masters failed to take steps to safely discharge patients and that at least two patients reviewed were discharged with oxygen saturation levels around 90 percent when safe levels are between 95 and 100 percent.

The board says Masters failed to monitor patient vital signs continuously, in a timely or in a routine fashion. Masters gave patients no supplemental oxygen during any reviewed procedure and didn’t dedicate a staff member to patient monitoring and airway management, the complaint alleges.

“The subpoenaed charts, along with the expert review, illustrate a pattern of repeated negligence, in some instances gross negligence, by Dr. Masters while performing surgical procedures,” the complaint says. “This pattern of negligence presents systemic problems with Dr. Masters’ performance that jeopardizes patient safety.

“The level of care in the charts fails to comport with the minimal Board guidelines for office-based surgeries.”

This isn’t the first time Masters’ license has come before the medical board for review.

Her license was restricted to not perform surgeries in March 2016 after Masters allegedly gave a patient syringes filled with the patient’s fat tissue and told the patient to take the syringes home, put them in her freezer and self-inject them into her face when she desired.

“This pattern of negligence presents systemic problems with Dr. Masters’ performance that jeopardizes patient safety.” – Oklahoma Medical Board

The restriction followed a board investigation into a complaint received March 21, 2016, from a patient identified only as “RK” in board records.

Following several cosmetic procedures in 2015, Masters gave RK syringes filled with fat tissue taken from RK’s body, RK’s complaint says.

“Dr. Masters had the fat-filled syringes wrapped in a surgical towel and instructed RK to take them home and place them in RK’s freezer,” the complaint alleged. “Dr. Masters advised RK that the fat would remain ‘good’ for about one year.”

RK developed a serious bacterial infection in her face, the complaint states. Masters treated the infection for about three months, but it didn’t go away. Masters gave RK injections to treat the infection that made her condition worse, the complaint says.

Masters allegedly refused to give RK a refund and instead offered her free laser skin therapy on the infected areas of her face. Later, the doctor offered a refund on the condition RK drop the complaint with the medical board and delete negative social media comments about Masters’ practice, the complaint states.

A medical board expert’s review of RK’s medical charts found a lack of documentation, “complete” failure to adhere to procedure protocols and that Masters’ actions fell below the minimum standard of care.

Masters reached an agreement with the medical board on March, 31, 2016, to restrict her practice to not perform surgical procedures, records show.

She is prohibited from performing any surgeries or any procedures that involve surgical equipment, anesthesia or conscious sedation, Varghese said. This includes facelifts or any form of fat transfer.

Masters’ medical office now offers non-surgical “body contouring,” Botex and other injectable treatments, according to its website.

In January 2004, Masters, who at the time used the last name Sibley, had her license indefinitely suspended by the Oklahoma Medical Board.

Masters pleaded guilty to 18 violations including habitually using drugs, writing false prescriptions and being unable to practice medicine with reasonable skill safe to patients.

Her license was reinstated that same year when Masters was put on a five-year probation after she agreed to certain terms including taking periodical drug tests and not prescribing controlled drugs.

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Kassie McClung

Staff writer

Kassie McClung joined The Frontier in May 2016. She reports on health, criminal justice and other state issues. Kassie holds a bachelors degree in multimedia journalism from Oklahoma State University. She likes dogs, maps and data. She can be reached at Kassie@readfrontier.com or 918-935-1044. Follow her on Twitter @KassieMcClung.
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