Medical assistant won't face charges


Betty Guerra’s monthslong nightmare is over.

The 45-year-old former medical assistant learned today from her attorney that the 10 felony counts against her on allegations of “unlawful practice of medicine” will be dismissed, she said.

“I always believed things would work out the right way,” she said tearfully. “I cannot be punished for something I didn’t do.”

Guerra’s July arrest sparked controversy over what medical assistants can and cannot do. Specifically, there was confusion over whether they are able to give shots.

Guerra was accused of unlawfully administering cosmetic injections, an act commonly performed by medical assistants throughout Nevada.

The state attorney general’s office did not specifically say charges against Guerra would be dropped but indicated it won’t be pursuing the case.

“The complaint against Betty Guerra submitted to the Attorney General’s Office by the Board of Medical Examiners has been contradicted by the subsequent actions by the Board,” Attorney General Catherine Cortez Masto said in a statement. “Therefore, it is fair for us to conclude that it would be difficult to prosecute this case beyond a reasonable doubt.”

Guerra’s attorney, Jason Weiner, said this evening that the attorney general’s office had sent him a copy of an unfiled motion dismissing the case earlier in the day. He would not be able to provide the Review-Journal with a copy of that motion until Wednesday, he said.

After Guerra’s arrest, physicians became concerned about what duties their medical assistants could perform.

Former medical board director Louis Ling said that upon reading a 30-year-old law, he concluded that the assistants could not give shots. With flu season coming on, he then attempted to draft emergency regulations that would allow them to give flu shots, but not Botox or other cosmetic injections.

However, that effort was shot down when a judge recently ruled that the board, in considering the regulations, had violated the open meeting law.

The board later reversed its position, determining that state law allows medical assistants to administer everything from flu shots to Botox. Medical assistants could give shots as long as they are under the “direct supervision” of a physician. Most health officials and doctors take that to mean the physician is on premises.

Ling resigned on Friday.

Guerra, a mother of three who was a physician in her native Peru, said she has been under incredible stress since her arrest and lost her job because of the publicity surrounding her case.

“It was a nightmare. I could not even sleep or eat all this time, wondering what was going to happen.”

Still, she said she harbors no anger.

“Now, I start all over. But it’s just another experience in my life.”

Contact reporter Lynnette Curtis at lcurtis@reviewjournal.com or 702-383-0285.

 

 

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