Exposing the LASIK Scam

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 Post subject: Perich Eye Center - Florida LASIK surgeon jailed
PostPosted: Thu Nov 08, 2007 2:20 pm 
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http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/10/Pasco ... but_.shtml

She had patients but no license

For 20 years, she did eye exams and wrote prescriptions. Then she got a curious patient.

By CAMILLE C. SPENCER
Published March 10, 2007

NEW PORT RICHEY - For 20 years, Paula Jean Russian did all the things an eye doctor is expected to do.

Administer exams. Dilate pupils. Write prescriptions.

She saw patients at the Perich Eye Center in New Port Richey, a state-of-the-art facility offering everything from LASIK eye surgery to Botox treatments, according to its Web site.

But no one knew Russian's secret: She didn't have a license.

That changed on Friday, when she was charged with two counts of practicing without a license, a felony. Russian, 51, was being held at the Land O'Lakes Detention Center in lieu of $10,000 bail.

Russian's arrest stemmed from a complaint made by a patient who noticed something odd: No credentials or diplomas adorned the office walls.

"So she went to the practitioners profile online and looked up Russian's name," said Lauren Buzzelli, spokeswoman for the state Department of Health.

She found nothing. According to the department's Web site, no one named Paula Jean Russian is licensed to practice medicine in Florida.

The patient contacted the state. She provided a business card from the eye center that read "Paula J. Russian, O.D./Optometrist/Perich Cataract and Laser Center," according to a report from the Sheriff's Office.

The state health department contacted Pasco authorities.

Investigators from the Sheriff's Office visited the eye center, posing as patients seeking eye exams on Feb. 7 and 14, the report said.

During both visits, Russian identified herself as a doctor, the report said. She performed eye exams on the investigators and dilated their eyes. She wrote them prescriptions for eyeglasses and prescribed Patanol, eye drops used to treat itching and redness.

How Russian practiced so long without a license remained a mystery Friday.

Larry Perich, who owns the clinic, did not return a call for comment. Russian of 7420 Evesborough Lane declined to be interviewed for this story.

Buzzelli said it's easy for people like Russian to slip under the radar. "She was never reported throughout her career," she said.

Fast Facts:

A healthy habit

State health officials have a few suggestions for you before you head to your next doctor's appointment:

- Type the doctor's name into the state Department of Health's Web site at http://ww2.doh.state.fl.us/irm00praes/PRASLIST.ASP.

- If the doctor is unlicensed or has faced discipline, that information will be provided on the site.

- If you suspect that your doctor doesn't have the proper credentials, call the state Department of Health at (850) 245-4224.

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http://www.sptimes.com/2007/03/13/Pasco ... also.shtml

Eye clinic owner also faces charges

By CAMILLE C. SPENCER
Published March 13, 2007


After her arrest Friday, an obvious question loomed: How did Paula Jean Russian get a job at Perich Eye Clinic in New Port Richey without an optometrist's license?

The answer was simple: By telling her boss she didn't have one.

She and clinic owner Larry Perich worked out a deal: Russian would be a "technician," working under Perich's supervision and his license.

The arrangement worked for 20 years - until it landed them both in jail. Russian, 51, was charged last week with two counts of practicing without a medical license. And Perich, 55, turned himself in Monday to face charges of principal in the first degree - essentially being Russian's accomplice.

Perich, of 17906 Crawley Road in Odessa, was being held at the Land O'Lakes jail Monday in lieu of $5,000 bail.

Perich's attorney, John P. Perrin, says the situation is a misunderstanding. He said Russian had credentials, although he was unsure what they were.

The attorney said Perich was visiting family in Colorado last week when Russian was arrested.

"He is dismayed and disappointed by the allegations against her," Perrin said Monday. "The protocol was that she operated as a technician under a doctor's supervision."

But Russian doesn't have a license, which is required by law in order to practice medicine - including optometry -in Florida.

And Pasco authorities say Russian wasn't supervised in February when she gave eye exams, dilated pupils, wrote prescriptions for glasses and even prescribed eyedrops to undercover investigators.

The investigation was launched after a patient noticed a lack of diplomas or credentials on Russian's walls. The patient called the state Health Department. Officials there had no record of Russian and called authorities.

After the arrests, patients at Perich Eye Center wondered what to think.

Herbert Browne said he'd been going to see Russian since the early 1990s, when Perich ran an office in Palm Harbor. Browne said he saw Russian for an eye appointment six months ago.

"As far as I'm concerned, she is a qualified optometrist," Browne said. "Just because she doesn't have a license doesn't mean she doesn't know what she's doing. She sure had me fooled."

_________________
Broken Eyes

"The price good men pay for indifference to public affairs is to be ruled by evil men." Plato


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