State medical board files accusation against local gynecologist, plastic surgeon

BAKERSFIELD, Calif. - The state medical board is seeking to revoke or suspend the license of Bakersfield gynecologist and plastic surgeon Dr. Jason Helliwell, alleging he mishandled the post-surgical care of one patient and was having sex with another. The accusation was filed by the California Medical Board Aug. 4.

Regulators note Helliwell already had a letter of reprimand in 2011 for negliegence in the treatment of a patient who underwent a "smart" liposuction procedure. 

His treatment represented "simple departures from the standard of care, recordkeeping and advertising," the state board noted.

Helliwell will have a chance to contest the new allegations through an administrative trial.  The first step would be a settlement conference where representatives from the state and Dr. Helliwell can sit down and discuss the matter, according to Medical Board spokeswoman Cassandra Hockenson.  No dates have been set.

Staff who answered the telephone at Helliwell's Advanced Women's Health Center medical office near Brimhall and Coffee Road said he needed to speak with his lawyer first but he would return a call seeking comment.

The new accusation indicates Helliwell paid a patient for sexual intercourse, meeting the woman at motels, her apartment and at his office for the encounters.

The 23-year-old woman is not identified. She was Helliwell's patient in 2011 and 2012 and their sexual relationship continued through most of this period, the allegation says. 

In a separate case, Hellweill performed a breast augmentation surgery on a woman whose incision later became infected and the implant itself became exposed through the skin, documents indicate.

That woman, also 23, told investigators her incision became infected and ruptured. Ultimately, the implant was exposed through the skin and she was told it needed to be removed.

Helliwell charged the woman $1,000 for the removal procedure seven days later.

"The operative report shows the implants had holes in them, however the patient claims that prior to surgery, (Helliwell) told her if she claimed her implants failed she could get new ones for free," the accusation indicates.

The medical board indicates this appears to be a "fraudulent attempt to gain coverage for this broken implant" calling it an "extreme departure" from normal practice.

The claim seeks revocation or suspension of Helliwell's license to practice medicine.

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