Dr Jan’s Blog Novel-Correcting the Record

Further along in the coroner’s report, Stephan Scoggins reported that “the decedent (Donda West) was left with caregivers, Diana and Nubia, who had been referred by Dr. Adams.” The operative words here are “caregivers” and “referred by Dr. Adams”.

That could not be further from the truth; it was a lie: first of all, neither of these people had been referred by me or any member of my staff to Ms. West as caregivers, because neither one is a caregiver, nor do they have any medical background whatsoever that I know about. I had referred Ms. West and her family to Nirvana, an after-care facility in Beverly Hills (and telephone conversations, along with conversations with the owner of the facility confirmed this to authorities during the course of their investigation), but she had opted to be taken care of by Mr. Scoggins, a registered nurse with an advanced degree, but more importantly, her nephew, at her home.

Nubia was Dr. West’s personal assistant (and surely Mr. Scoggins knew that). Diana was a former patient of ours with whom Dr. West had formed a friendship (and surely Mr. Scoggins knew this also).  Neither of these individuals were caregivers, and certainly not caregivers referred by my office.

 In his statement to the Coroner’s representative investigating the death of Donda West, Stephan was misleading the investigator. (I might also add that because we were not privy to the Coroner’s report until it was publicly released two months later- along with everyone else- Mr. Scoggins’s lies served as the basis from which the Coroner, the press, the Medical Board of California, and the Los Angeles County District Attorney operated.)   Why would Mr. Scoggins feel that it was necessary to lie to the Coroner’s investigator? … People only lie when they feel they have something to hide. What did he feel the need to hide?

If a prospective patient wishes to speak with former patients who have had similar procedures, we try to arrange it so that they can get together. The patient can then get an informed perspective on how other people were treated by us, and not just our word on it. Diana was not the only previous patient of ours with whom Dr. West had communicated. Nonetheless, they had hit it off and Diana had apparently committed to spending time with Ms. West in her immediate post-operative period. The point is that neither individual was referred by our office as caregivers.

I corrected this statement with Ms. Denice Bertone, RN, the coroner’s investigator as suggested by Ms. Hollis. Ms. Bertone’s reply: “I knew he wasn’t being truthful. Why would a doctor refer as caregivers two people who aren’t even LPN’s? People lie to us all the time, but I can recheck my notes. I’m pretty sure that’s what he said…My job is to take the statement as people give it.”

 She rechecked her notes and confirmed her statement.

Mr. Scoggins had deliberately lied to the Coroner’s investigator only one day after the death of his aunt to hide his negligence in her care (and I suspect to conceal it from other family members and the authorities).

 Even more alarming, Mr. Scoggins, on his own website, had reported that he was a police officer in the state of Oklahoma and surely, a former police officer knows that lying to the coroner is wrong, if not a crime.

Mr. Scoggins went on to state that “the decedent (Donda West) appeared to be doing well so he left for the day with the intention to return and spend the night with his aunt”. Yet that wasn’t his job. He wasn’t supposed to “return and spend the night with her”. His job was to watch her at a time when she could not fend for herself. He was his aunt’s primary caregiver at that time. He knew that when he left, he had left her with no one with the knowledge of what to do, period; let alone in the event of an emergency. As the primary care giver at that time, he had abandoned his aunt: nothing short of medical negligence.

When Mr. Scoggins left, according to him, “the decedent (Donda West) did not appear to be diaphoretic and had no symptoms of peritonitis or bleeding”. Great assessment, but it only confirms that “neither surgery nor anesthesia mishaps contributed to her death”. She is doing quite well the next day.

Mr. Scoggins further stated that” the decedent had no known cardiac problems or peptic ulcer disease”. (That is of particular importance because throughout the media frenzy, reporters refer to Dr. West’s heart problems. For the sake of completeness though, I am not sure we can tie our arguments to anything he has to say, since we can clearly see that it is riddled with lies.) However, it is important to point out, as also noted by the coroner’s report, that the decedent’s previous medical history included evaluation for an episode of left chest and arm pain on January 10, 2007 at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center. No prior history of heart disease was noted. (And on this, I believe, we can rely.)   

The decedent indicated a previous history of elevated cholesterol, and hypothyroid disease treated with Synthroid. Chest x-ray and cardiac workup were unremarkable. (Again we have a cardiac workup done at Cedars-Sinai Medical Center, the premier cardiac facility in Southern California that was unremarkable. I knew this, the coroner knew this, but it is interesting that the physicians the media were quoting, as having been the other physicians she had had a consultation with, did not.) That was another fact omitted in the stories that followed.

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