Investigation prompted by death of woman falsely told she was pregnant who died four months later of complications from cervical cancer
By Dave Andrusko
The headline referred to a “controversial Oklahoma City-area abortion doctor,” which is like calling the sun warm or water wet. Dr. Nareshkumar G. Patel, 62, has been in the midst of controversies for decades.
Arrested Tuesday, Patel is out on bond. He is accused of fraud for telling three undercover female investigators they were pregnant and giving them chemical abortifacients. None were pregnant.
But the reader does not find out about the impetus for the investigation until well into a story written by Nolan Clay and Robby Trammell for The Oklahoman.
The complaint that led to the investigation came from a sister of a former patient who paid $520 for a medical abortion procedure in August 2011. The former patient, Pamela Michelle King, died four months later of complications from cervical cancer. The doctor who cared for her at the time of her death reported she had not been pregnant within the past year.
After Patel’s arrest, Attorney General Scott Pruitt said, “This type of fraudulent activity and blatant disregard for the health and well-being of Oklahoma women will not be tolerated,” adding, “Oklahoma women should be able to trust that the advice they receive from their physicians is truthful, accurate and does not jeopardize their health.”
Patel’s arrest was authorized by a Oklahoma County judge on Monday. “Prosecutors said he will be charged with three counts of obtaining money under a false pretense,” Clay and Trammell reported. “If convicted of all three counts, he could be sentenced up to three years in jail.”
According to the arrest warrant, the undercover investigation began in early June when an investigator went to Patel’s Warr Acres clinic. Subsequently, on October 16, an Oklahoma City police detective visited the clinic followed by an Oklahoma attorney general agent who visited the clinic October 22.
“Each time, Patel gave the woman an ultrasound, told her she was pregnant and gave her five RU-486 pills to induce an abortion, according to the affidavit,” Clay and Trammell reported. “Each paid $620 for the unnecessary procedure, according to the affidavit. Each time, the investigator secretly recorded Patel inside the clinic, according to the affidavit.”
News 9 provided more extensive coverage of the sting. Referring to the first investigator, according to court documents Patel “performed an ultrasound on her abdomen and told her she was very, very early pregnant.” She was given five abortion pills.
The second investigator was wearing a hidden video camera. Patel “performed an external ultrasound on her abdomen, and he told her she was pregnant” and that her pregnancy urine test was positive. News 9 also reported
Later that month [October], another agent visited the clinic wearing undercover surveillance equipment. Patel performed an ultrasound and told the not pregnant agent that she was “early in her pregnancy” and gave her five abortion pills to take. The agent “put one pill into her mouth and concealed the pill until she was able to place it into a Kleenex.” Patel then prescribed the agent “Tylenol#3 with codeine.” The agent was not pregnant.
Clay and Trammell then give some of Patel’s history. Patel
admitted burning aborted fetuses in 1992, saying he had run out of storage space after a hospital stopped letting him use an incinerator.
Patel told the state medical licensure board he and his office manager took the fetuses to an abandoned recreational vehicle park he owned near Shawnee and he set fire to them on a gravel road.
The state medical licensure board considered disciplining him for unprofessional conduct for the fetus disposal but did not.
Patel has been arrested before — in 1993 when a patient accused him of sexually assaulting her. He denied her accusation. He was acquitted of two felony counts at a jury trial in 1994.