The following is a press release from the Florida Department of Health
TALLAHASSEE— The Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) South Florida Unlicensed Activity (ULA) Unit announced today that their joint investigation with the United States Food and Drug Administration (FDA) and the Miami Dade Police Department’s Medical Crimes Unit (MDPDMCU) has led to the execution of a federal search warrant at a Miami birthing facility.
The target of the search warrant, the Miami Maternity Center (MMC) located at 140 N.E. 119th Street in Miami, had been suspected of providing unregulated non FDA approved capsules to clients of the facility. During a 10 month investigation by the Unlicensed Activities Unit it was learned that women who had given birth at the center were being provided placenta pills as a prophylactic measure in order to mitigate or prevent post partum depression.
This is a practice that has some limited popularity among believers in traditional / ancient medicine, but has not gained acceptance in the modern medical community or FDA approval. When done, the usual procedure provides the birth mother with her own placenta that has been dehydrated and encapsulated for her use.
The ULA investigation disclosed that the pills being manufactured at MMC were from the dehydrated, placentas of various birth mothers. The organs would be ground up all together inside of a coffee grinder and placed into gelatin capsules by MMC staff members. The ULA investigation also disclosed that as many as 10 to 15 placentas at a time were being placed in layers inside of the MMC dehydration machine creating a cross contamination hazard.
The placenta capsules were then placed into a baggie and stapled to the patient chart. The patients were not informed that the placenta pills they were being provided were placentas from other women that were mixed together with their own placenta for processing.
On Wednesday, December 24, 2008, a team consisting of 12 FDA Special Agents, 6 Miami Dade Police Department Detectives, 2 DOH Investigators and 2 Medicaid Fraud Control Unit Investigators entered the Miami Maternity Center to facilitate the execution of the search warrant.
Among the items that were seized were: all patient records from 2006 to the present (approximately 500 patient records), computers, frozen placentas, dehydrated placentas, dehydrator machine, grinding device, prescription pads, billing records and all potential biohazard items.
All of the items seized were transported to an FDA facility for further analysis. Federal and State criminal charges against the owner/operator of MMC are pending. This investigation has already resulted in the September arrest of an unlicensed midwife who was working at the facility.
DOH has several resources to combat unlicensed activity:
Consumers are encouraged to use DOH’s Web site www.flhealthsource.com where they can conveniently view the license information of their health care practitioner.
Complaints may be filed anonymously by completing and mailing the complaint form on the DOH Web site or calling 1-877-HALT-ULA to have a form mailed to you.
The Florida Department of Health’s (DOH) unlicensed activity program protects Florida residents and visitors from the potentially serious and dangerous consequences of receiving medical and health care services from an unlicensed person. The Division of Medical Quality Assurance (MQA) investigates and refers for prosecution all unlicensed health care activity complaints and allegations.
The unlicensed activity unit works in conjunction with law enforcement and the state attorney’s offices to prosecute individuals practicing without a license. In many instances, unlicensed activity is a felony level criminal offense. More importantly, receiving health care from unlicensed people is dangerous and could result in further injury, disease or even death.
The mission of DOH and MQA is to promote, protect and improve the health of all people in Florida. Working in conjunction with 22 boards and six councils, MQA regulates seven types of facilities and 200-plus license types in more than 40 healthcare professions. MQA evaluates the credentials of all applicants for licensure, issues licenses, analyzes and investigates complaints, inspects facilities, assists in prosecuting practice act violations, combats unlicensed activity and provides credential and discipline history about licensees to the public. Visit http://www.flhealthsource.com for additional information about MQA.