More than a dozen patients at a Pomona hospital may have been the unwitting subjects of secret medical experimentation alleged to have taken place at the hospital through last year.
New evidence in an ongoing medical malpractice case against Pomona Valley Hospital suggests that the medical center was conducting secret medical device experiments on patients, without their knowledge or consent, from 2008 to 2011.
Internal hospital documents obtained by a plaintiff’s lawyer indicate that surgeons implanted a total of 17 people with a bone growth product that has not been approved by the FDA for widespread use.
Los Angeles attorney Bijan Esfandiari is representing one of the patients: 35-year-old April Cabana of Alta Loma, who underwent surgery at the hospital after a car accident four years ago. He says Cabana only became aware that she was implanted with the experimental product after excess bone started growing in her spine, near her surgery site.
“It resulted in formation of bone growth that migrated onto her nerve channels [causing] excruciating pain where bone is not supposed to grow," says Esfandiari, adding that "it was a Frankenstein-esque operation."
Esfandiari says it was believed Cabana’s case was an isolated one. But after hospital officials claimed under oath that they had not approved the product for testing, he says the product’s manufacturer turned over documents that indicate otherwise. Three letters from 2009, 2010 and 2012 suggest the hospital not only approved the product’s use, but that it was conducting research into its safety on 17 unnamed patients.
A spokeswoman for Pomona Valley Hospital Medical Center says the hospital does not comment on ongoing litigation.
The hospital has appealed a trial court’s order mandating that it produce information about the alleged secret research project. An appellate hearing on that matter is scheduled for late summer.