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Public Health Dept. investigating illegal medical experiment claims

A doctor's office at the South Los Angeles Family Health Clinic.
A doctor's office at the South Los Angeles Family Health Clinic.
Mae Ryan/KPCC

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The California Department of Public Health is now investigating allegations reported by KPCC last week that Pomona Valley Hospital may have conducted medical experiments on patients — without their consent or knowledge.

A spokesman for the state health agency says investigators are looking into claims that the hospital implanted more than a dozen patients with bone growth products not approved by the FDA for widespread use.

The claims stem from internal hospital documents obtained by lawyers who filed a lawsuit last year on behalf of a car crash victim who underwent surgery at the hospital to repair her lower back.

Lawyers for April Cabana, 35, say since the surgery their client has experienced excess bone growth that migrated into her nerve channels. Cabana's attorneys say another defendant in the case recently provided them with internal hospital documents that suggest Cabana was part of a larger experiment into the safety of the bone growth product that the hospital conducted on 17 patients.

The hospital at first said it wouldn't comment on pending litigation, but later released a statement saying that they would "cooperate fully, as is [their] norm." 

"Pomona Valley Hospital takes this issue seriously," the statement continued. "We strongly dispute both the allegations of the complaint and the assertions made in the media."