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Indo-US doc guilty of unauthorised practice

An Indian American practitioner of homeopathy in California, Reena Chopra, is found guilty of practicing without a valid licence.

india Updated: Sep 07, 2006 17:51 IST
Indo-Asian News Service
Indo-Asian News Service

An Indian American practitioner of homeopathy in California has been found guilty of practicing medicine without a licence.

Reena Chopra of Hayward, Alameda County, was remanded to custody till Thursday for illegally running the practice from her office in Fremont, also in Alameda, reports said.

A jury in the Alameda County Court found Chopra guilty on one count of practicing medicine without a licence but remained deadlocked on two other charges.

Chopra, whose patients were from the Indian American community, was arrested November 19, 2003, on three charges of misrepresenting herself as a doctor on at least three occasions between December 2002 and March 2003.

According to a report,on Dec 10 the same year, the Medical Board of California had said though Chopra posted bail, she "may still pose a threat to the East Indian community (as the Indian American community is also known), to whom she confines her outreach".

According to an earlier report in the Argus, the prosecution said on one occasion, Chopra had referred a 15-year-old boy who had complained of stomach pains to a chiropractor for an X-ray in early 2003.

When the boy returned after having the X-ray taken, Chopra told his parents he had a crooked spine. But the boy was later diagnosed with a urinary tract infection that could have led to kidney disease if not properly treated.

Last June, a witness, Bale Krishna Patel, had testified in court that she took Chopra to be a licensed medical doctor when she had made an appointment to bring her mother to Chopra's office because her mother was suffering from depression and other ailments.

The homeopathy 'practitioner' allegedly gave prescription drugs to the woman.

According to the prosecution, Chopra had also obtained a medical number from another doctor and used it to fill out a medical form that exempted Patel's mother from taking the US citizenship test on grounds of poor memory.

On yet another occasion, Chopra allegedly took a young boy to a hospital opposite to her Fremont clinic after he complained of leg pain. The patient underwent a free bone-density test at the hospital, but Chopra allegedly charged the boy's family $70 for the test.

According to the Review, while she was found guilty on one count, a mistrial was declared on two other counts - that of giving prescription drugs and referring the 15-year-old boy for an X-ray.

Two of the 12-member jury apparently were not convinced that Chopra was guilty of these two counts.

Laws about the practice of homeopathy in the US vary from state to state. While it can be practiced legally - by holding a licence - in some states, others allow its practice by non-licensed professionals as well.

California law requires homeopathy practitioners to hold a licence. Chopra will appear in court on September 28 for her sentencing. She faces up to 16 months in prison for the one count on which she was found guilty.

First Published: Sep 07, 2006 17:51 IST