State warns public: Say no to unlicensed physicians

State officials launched a public awareness campaign Monday to warn Hispanics about the growing danger of using unlicensed medical practitioners.

The campaign, called No a los Médicos Clandestinos -- Say no to Unlicensed Physicians -- includes public service announcements on Spanish-speaking radio and television stations to discourage people from seeking health care from unlicensed practitioners. It includes information about where uninsured people can find safe, free or low-cost health care.

The campaign is a partnership between the University of Nevada, Reno's Latino Research Center and the Nevada State Health Division. Information can be found on the websites of either organization: or

As part of the campaign, Nevada 211 has agreed to serve as a hotline for those who want to report unlicensed medical practitioners.

Officials and those who do outreach in the Hispanic community have become concerned about unlicensed practitioners preying on Latinos. Legislators in February approved $47,000 to launch the campaign.

"Educating the community on the dangers and threats of unlicensed activity is critical for public safety," Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said.

In February, a North Las Vegas man was arrested after being accused of posing as a doctor, sedating victims and then assaulting them when they were unconscious. And a year ago, a 42-year-old Las Vegas woman died after a botched buttocks enhancement surgery at the hands of two fake Colombian doctors.

So-called "botanicas" have cropped up in Hispanic communities throughout the valley in the past few years. Although they typically are advertised as natural or herbal medicine shops, they often harbor unlicensed practitioners and dispense medical advice and drugs not legally available in the United States without a prescription.

"Unlicensed health care is occurring in our state," said Tracey Green, state health officer for the health division. "Unlicensed health care can hurt you and your loved ones."

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at or 702-383-0285.