Med­i­cal ex­am­iner in­ves­ti­gated

Ven­tura County’s Jon J. Smith is put on paid leave; he al­legedly per­formed pro­ce­dures that were un­ap­proved.

Los Angeles Times - - THE STATE - By Veron­ica Rocha veron­ica. rocha @ latimes. com

The Ven­tura County med­i­cal ex­am­iner is un­der in­ves­ti­ga­tion for al­legedly per­form­ing unau­tho­rized post­mortem pro­ce­dures, of­fi­cials said.

De­tails about the al­leged pro­ce­dures have not been re­leased by the Ven­tura County dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice, which is in­ves­ti­gat­ing claims against Chief Med­i­cal Ex­am­iner Jon J. Smith.

Smith was placed on paid ad­min­is­tra­tive leave last week af­ter the in­ves­ti­ga­tion was an­nounced, said Barry Fisher, di­rec­tor of the Ven­tura County Health Care Agency.

“We are do­ing our own in­ter­nal in­ves­ti­ga­tion,” Fisher said, adding that both the county and its health de- part­ment are look­ing into the al­le­ga­tions against Smith.

Smith did not im­me­di­ately re­turn re­quests for com­ment.

In­ves­ti­ga­tors with the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice and Cal­i­for­nia Med­i­cal Board searched the county’s med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s of­fice last Mon­day. In­ves­ti­ga­tors seized “sig­nif­i­cant doc­u­men­tary ev­i­dence” dur­ing their search, the dis­trict at­tor­ney’s of­fice said.

The in­ves­ti­ga­tion is ex­pected to take sev­eral months.

The Ven­tura County Star re­ported that the al­le­ga­tions prob­a­bly cen­ter on Smith’s ap­prov­ing an au­topsy that was per­formed at a fu­neral home in Louisiana. He is not li­censed in that state but might have been mar­ket­ing his ser­vices to out- of- state fu­neral homes, the Star re­ported.

Fam­i­lies of those who have died and were re­ferred to the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s off ice af­ter 2012 were asked to call dis­trict at­tor­ney in­ves­ti­ga­tors at ( 805) 477- 1651.

Smith has been the county’s chief med­i­cal ex­am­iner since June 2012.

Mean­while, Fisher said the med­i­cal ex­am­iner’s off ice has re­mained open and is con­duct­ing foren­sic in­ves­ti­ga­tions. Fisher de­clined to com­ment about the al­le­ga­tions but said the county health depart­ment has not re­ceived com­plaints about Smith.

The Santa Bar­bara County coro­ner- sher­iff is also in­ves­ti­gat­ing the claims against Smith, who was a con­tract pathol­o­gist.

Smith was one of two foren­sic pathol­o­gists who per­formed au­top­sies in Santa Bar­bara County.

“We have been in­formed by the Med­i­cal Board of Cal­i­for­nia that there has been no ac­tion taken to date by that agency and that the foren­sic pathol­o­gist in­volved is fully li­censed and au­tho­rized to prac­tice and carry out the du­ties of a pathol­o­gist,” the sher­iff ’s of­fice said in a state­ment.

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