BAKERSFIELD, Calif. (KGET) — The Medical Board of California has brought an accusation against a Bakersfield doctor who has felony charges pending from a case filed in 2019.
Dr. Jason Helliwell is accused of gross negligence, repeated negligent acts and failing to maintain adequate records and allegedly ordered unnecessary medical tests on three patients for financial gain, according to the Sept. 12 medical board filing. The alleged acts occurred in 2018 and 2019, the filing says, while Helliwell practiced out of an office called Advanced Women’s Health Center/Advanced Health Group.
The filing says Helliwell bought a machine in 2014 that allowed him to perform allergy tests at the office. He later bought another machine to conduct urine toxicology tests.
“In the following years, (Helliwell) ordered that patients undergo many laboratory tests at his own office for allergy testing, HgA1c, urine analysis, lipid testing, toxicology testing, mercury and lead testing, and cystic fibrosis testing.
“(Helliwell) subsequently billed insurance companies for the laboratory work performed, even when the patient may not have needed or consented to the procedure. The fees for processing those labs were billable and served as a source of significant additional revenue for the practice.”
A hearing on the accusation, after which the board will issue a decision on whether Helliwell will be disciplined, has not been scheduled.
Helliwell and two co-defendants have a pending criminal case, filed in 2019 and to which the accusation appears to be partly related, in which they are charged with felonies including grand theft and making false claims for health benefits. Two insurance companies reported alleged billing fraud on the part of Helliwell.
Investigators later alleged Helliwell was involved in at least two more fraud schemes, one involving the in-house allergy testing machine, which former employees said was used for “frequent, and likely unnecessary, allergy tests on patients that had no complaint of allergy symptoms,” according to court documents.
The second allegation says Helliwell set up an arrangement with a toxicology lab to send patients for unnecessary lab testing, according to the documents.
A former employee said Helliwell was involved in a kickback scheme with a representative from the lab and received $20 to $25 for each patient who got tested, documents said.
In 2018, Helliwell was placed on 42 months of probation by the medical board following multiple allegations of misconduct after two patients experienced complications after undergoing procedures by him. He first met one of the patients when they arranged a sexual encounter, medical board documents say.