Florida physician in surgery center death illegally performed cosmetic procedure, complaint says

Christopher Walker, MD, founder of Orlando, Fla.-based Beja Body Med Spa, allegedly illegally performed cosmetic procedures at his office surgery center in 2020, according to an August complaint filed by the Florida Board of Medicine.

While out on bond awaiting sentencing for federal fraud and witness tampering charges stemming from a 2019 lawsuit, Dr. Walker performed a cosmetic procedure on a patient Jan. 15, despite allegedly being unqualified to do the procedure. That night, the patient, 38-year-old Ulesha Ortiz, died of internal bleeding from several abdominal organ and blood vessel punctures.

Phone calls placed to Beja Body Med Spa's listed phone number now route to UroGyn Specialists of Florida, according to the Miami Herald. Dr. Walker is the only provider listed on UroGyn's website.

In federal court in December 2019, Dr. Walker was charged with and pleaded guilty to fraud and witness tampering in a transvaginal mesh scheme that took place from June 2013 to March 2016. Transvaginal mesh implants were banned by the FDA in 2019 after problems with the devices led to lawsuits against manufacturers.

The charges against Dr. Walker were that he found women who might need TVM removal surgery, implied that they couldn't use their own doctors and lied to them about the ability of their health insurance to cover the procedures.

"Certain [agreements] ... included provisions in which the women agreed to repay the costs of the removal surgery plus interest, which accrued at exorbitant rates, if the women ultimately received a settlement or favorable judgment against the mesh manufacturer," the indictment claimed. "In certain funding arrangements, the victims were responsible for the medical bills associated with the removal surgeries even if they did not receive a settlement."

Dr. Walker is set to be sentenced Jan. 22, 2022, for the TVM scheme, which could put him in prison for up to 10 years. He faces a separate lawsuit filed by Daniel Ortiz, Ms. Ortiz's surviving husband, over her death.

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