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Inglewood doctor surrenders license after patient's death

July 27, 2011 |  6:36 pm


An Inglewood surgeon convicted of involuntary manslaughter in connection with the death of a 30-year-old patient agreed Wednesday to surrender his medical license.

Dr. Roberto Bonilla, 63, had been accused of negligence and incompetence in connection with the death of Osvaldo Hernandez, on whom he performed gallbladder surgery at his office June 4, 2008, according to a Medical Board of California accusation filed two years ago. On Wednesday, Bonilla agreed to surrender his license, admitting to the accusations.

Bonilla was accused of performing major surgery in his office without necessary equipment or staff, administering an overdose of anesthetic and then failing to summon paramedics, according to the accusation. The medical board restricted his license at the time, but allowed him to continue practicing after completing a training course.

In February, Bonilla was found guilty in connection Hernandez’s death after he admitted using only a local anesthetic, lidocaine, which several experts testified was unusual -- the surgery is usually done with general anesthesia at a hospital, they said. Bonilla said he was assisted by three medical assistants but no anesthesiologist or nurse anesthetist.

Investigators said that Bonilla injected his patient with a fatal overdose of lidocaine and that the setting, along with the overdose and other decisions the doctor made before and after the injection, played a major role in Hernandez’s death.

Bonilla's attorney, Michael Khouri, argued that Hernandez suffered an allergic reaction to the lidocaine and that Bonilla struck a vein while injecting the anesthetic, a problem “that can happen to any doctor.”

Bonilla was sentenced in March to 180 days in jail and five years' probation, according to court records. As a condition of his probation, Bonilla agreed not to practice medicine, Khouri said.

The surgeon has appealed his conviction and plans to apply to have his medical license reinstated, Khouri said. Bonilla will be eligible to reapply in two years.


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Photo: Dr. Roberto Bonilla, standing with lawyer Michael Khouri, outside his medical clinic, which was converted from a single-family house in Inglewood. Credit: Wally Skalij / Los Angeles Times