A Star is Born
At Providence St. John’s Health Center
Santa Monica, CA
Everyone knows by now Hollywood can create, make or break stardom. And, often that person might not have much talent or acting skills but that does not stop us from being star struck.
Well, did you know that the medical industry can do the same?
Imagine you or a family member has a small, contained, very operable cancer tumor and you want that “Top” doctor, “Star” surgeon to perform his magic so you can recover and move on with your happy life.
Guess what?… Providence St. John’s Health Center in Santa Monica has just the man for the job, Dr. Anton Bilchik; The West Coast “Go-to” man, “Top Doctor” in every online review site, top 1% in the United States! With the highest recommendation of his peers at the renowned John Wayne Cancer Center (JWCC), how can you go wrong?
Only one minor detail…
Dr. Anton Bilchik displayed very little skill in Pancreatic Resection, in my view, when he missed something crucial in my father’s case. Since his claim to fame is in Gastrointestinal Cancer, this is very bad news.
At least it was for our family when he performed a Whipple procedure on my dad and apparently left the Afferent Limb too long and our loving dad starved to death in a slow painful deterioration, as described on the My Story page.
You see, we too wanted the “Star” surgeon for our Pops. After all, his tumor was curable and he was in amazing health for his age. And, we were elated to learn that age had no factor on the success of the surgery.
So…..How did we get duped, you ask?… Simple,
Dr. Anton Bilchik, undoubtedly with the blessing (and help) of Providence St. John’s Health Center, CREATED a “Star Surgeon” and we bought into it hook line and sinker.
Coming so highly recommended (by their own staff) and having a stellar online reputation how could we not fall for the deception? All the while our dad was deteriorating, Dr. Anton Bilchik hid his lack of understanding of the case by insisting Dad was doing well, he just needed to eat and exercise more! Of course, we believed him because; he was the “Star” the “West Coast Expert”, the “Scientist” and “World Renowned Researcher”!
Instead of getting an opinion elsewhere, we believed Dr. Anton Bilchik and ignored our deep-down sense of being Gas-lighted.
The medical evidence suggests that our beloved dad died of Afferent Loop Syndrome, a mechanical complication 6 months after Dr. Anton Bilchik’s surgery. We were lucky to find this out when Dad, by chance, went to Cedars Sinai Medical Center for a Double Balloon Endoscopy Camera procedure and Dr. Anton Bilchik’s handy-work was exposed.
After coming out of shock, mourning my loss for a better part of a year I started asking myself: “How the heck did this happen?!” and “What the heck happened?!”
I started doing some extensive research:
First and foremost, I found that the majority of Dr. Anton Bilchik’s internet notoriety, as far as I could find, is generated from his own website, www.antonbilchikmd.com.
Upon careful review, it is a well-crafted and constructed business-like website clearly meant to inflate Dr. Anton Bilchik’s importance and presence.
Even more revealingly, I found a patient advocacy non-profit called The Leapfrog Group, where hospitals SELF-report by submitting an online survey.
Astonishingly, Providence St. John’s Health Center, reported ONLY doing 9 pancreatic resections in reporting years 2018-2019. Leapfrog recommends a minimum of 20 procedures a year to be considered experienced in the procedure… So how in God’s name did Dr. Anton Bilchik become an expert?
Do my ears deceive me, or does he say in this Youtube video dated 2018 that: St. Johns Operates a high volume Whipple (Pancreatic Resection) facility? O-kay… Where’s the discrepancy here?
Now, I wanted to give him the benefit of doubt so despite the fact he purportedly only does fewer than 10 Pancreatic Resections, at least for the last reported year, I thought maybe Dr. Anton Bilchik is really an expert surgeon in Colorectal Cancer and he just tried to fudge the Gastroenterology stuff. But when I read the latest Leapfrog statistic on Rectal Cancer Procedures (at least for 2018-19). Apparently only 16 were reported. Ok, so let’s do the math here: 9+16= 25. Twenty Five procedures in an entire year? That’s about 2 per month! Also, there are at least 3-4 other surgeons on JWCC staff. Might Dr. Anton Bilchik have performed even fewer than 25? Well apparently, yes, I found proof of such on another very prominent advocacy website called Propublica. Apparently Dr. Anton Bilchik did not complete the 20 minimum procedures a year to qualify for their Surgeon Scorecard. (I need to here-in add that, unsurprisingly, Leapfrog’s safety rating for Providence Saint John’s Heath Center is a “C” for 2020.)
I definitely DID find evidence to his claims of being an expert from sites that rate MD’s so I did research into how these “Top Doctors” are vetted?… Well, apparently, they’re not! Here’s how it seems to work:
Hospitals purchase memberships to sites that review doctors, then THEY recommend their own top doctors (which is free of course so they can say doctors don’t pay to be rated). This is what they refer to as “Peer-reviewed”. These sites then sell the “Top Doctors” all kinds of supplemental accoutrements like listings in their directory, plaques for their office, magazine ads, certificates, and even the right to use their Top Doctor status in any of the doctor’s own advertising. Dr. Bilchik did not hesitate to send out press releases to spread the word, he was a “Top Doctor” 10 years in a row!
Wait a minute…
Upon further review, apparently Dr. Anton Bilchik first became “Top Doctor” in 2000 just 2 years after completing his surgical fellowship.
What a star!
It’s important to note, Castle-Connolly, arguably the leader in Top Doctor Promotion, no longer has a listing for Anton Bilchik on their database.
I spent hours doing very lengthy and in-depth research on the subject of “Top Doctor”. The predominant consensus as written by many top notch reporters in the field is that Top Doctor Status is nothing more than a sham… At least I firmly believe this. (BTW 2000 must have been a very busy year for Bilchik the Star. Apparently he was fighting off one of multiple malpractice suits.)
On reviewing his resume, it seems he attended medical schooling was in South Africa, he seems to make online review sites make it look like he’s a Yale Medical School Alumni. Additionally, there seems to be confusion as to where Anton Bilchik completed his surgical residency and our request to see his certifications produced no response from him.
His ads and website claim his medical residency was completed at UCLA but what he doesn’t specify is that it was its affiliate Olive view LA County Hospital instead of the prestigious UCLA Ronald Regan Medical Center. Olive View, unlike Ronald Regan, even fails to meet the distinction of being one of the top 22 best California hospitals for residencies.
I could not verify his claim of being the chief of Surgery for Century City Hospital in 2007 because in 2008 the hospital filed for bankruptcy. And lastly, although he advertises being an affiliate of Cedars Sinai, I have not been able to find his name in their physician database. And, even though he continues both on his website and in his ads to insist he is affiliated with Cedars Sinai, he himself admitted in a legal cease and desist letter regarding this website that he hasn’t been their affiliate since June 2019. Cedars Sinai Doctors I questioned said they weren’t aware of Anton Bilchik ever having done any procedures at their facility.
When I considered Dr. Anton Bilchik’s claim he was a prolific publisher of articles and studies, I was not able to verify this (although I’m not an expert, of course). What I did find is that many of his publications were dated back to when he was in training or newly licensed. Others I recognized as being written by his Fellows, while in training and in many he is listed as 4th or 5th+ author. Nothing I reviewed stands out as being scientific, groundbreaking or putting Dr. Anton Bilchik on the cutting edge of the research community, like I have seen with doctors who I believe have REALLY made groundbreaking discoveries.
I then looked at JWCC website to see if maybe Dr. Anton Bilchik is currently working on some groundbreaking study in their Clinical Trial Department. Not only could I not find his name on any current Trial, his name does not even show up in the system as one of the researchers?!
I’m thinking this may be because in 2004 Anton Bilchik was issued a written warning by the Federal Drug Administration (FDA) citing multiple violation including administering medication well past what is determined safe and not getting patient prior written consent.
On his own website, however, in the Research section, we get some better information: There’s a generic list of “Research” topics and only 1 specific clinical trial is listed and dated back to 1999. I was, however, very surprised to see Dr. Anton Bilchik’s list of (research?) grants and donations.
This segues into the subject of his self-established non-profit, California Oncology Research Institute (CORI). Maybe THIS is where the “Scientist” and “Researcher” claim originates?
Then when I took an in depth look at the 990 tax returns from 2015-2018, all signed by Anton Bilchik “Secretary”, I found little continuity. Here is a rough estimate of what I see in the numbers:
$1.4M was received in grants/donations of which $400K was donated BY HIM to the Jewish Community Foundation. (Huh?…They do cancer research???). Another $400K was spent on Salary and Benefits (He is the only listed recipient). $120K was spent on travel, meetings and conventions. And sadly, only $115 was spent on research. (Was he the only researcher?).
You guessed it, Dr. Anton Bilchik.
Luckily for Anton Bilchik, there seems to be a surplus of nearly $900K sitting in the bank for a rainy day.
Last in my investigation, is the question of Dr. Anton Bilchik’s stellar reviews online. This is the subject which irks me the most and for which I will be writing an entire separate article which I will link here soon:
Suffice at this point to say that most of Dr. Anton Bilchiks reviews, in my opinion, are simply not credible. There are way too many glowing reviews given the number of surgeries he purportedly performs. Many are very generic only describing what an amazing surgeon and person he is. Additionally, the quantity and sheer enthusiasm just don’t jibe with these types of cancers having such a poor prognosis. After following his review cycle for the last couple of years, I can confidently say I believe someone is attending to content, flagging negative ones and making sure that anything not stellar somehow miraculously disappears.
In conclusion, my observations and research described above lead me to question whether Dr. Anton Bilchik is a “REAL” expert surgeon or just appears to be one based on an expensive and expansive marketing machine?
This would make a lot of sense from a marketing point of view if John Wayne Cancer Center at Providence St. John’s were not able to attract a “real” expert; given their need to compete for business against the nearby conglomerate and highly rated Los Angeles Cancer Centers at UCLA and Cedars Sinai.
Additionally, Providence Health Center Systems apparently has a sordid history of pumping up doctor reputations to maximize profits at the expense of patient safety.
By January of 2019, I was still reeling from the pain of the loss of my father and the deception. I had also by this time discovered that there are both state and federal laws that prohibit doctors from promoting themselves in a fraudulent or misleading way, and that doing so is also a violation of the American Medical Association’s Code of Ethics.
In my opinion the promotion of Cancer Surgeon, Doctor Anton Bilchik, as described above is fraudulent.
I wrote a letter to Providence St. John Hospital asking for a meeting to address the multitude of questions I had about Dr. Anton Bilchik. I wanted to know the answers to all the questions I address in this story. I was hoping for some explanation. I wanted to see how and whether they would defend Dr. Anton Bilchik. I wanted closure. If everything was true, I wanted them to know so that it did not continue and hurt, or worse kill, other unsuspecting victims.
They refused to meet with me or answer any questions. All I got back was a “boilerplate” response stating that my concerns would be confidentially reviewed in-house; and they referred me to the Medical Board of California.
They were however, apologetic, stating that they are “sorry… that we did not meet your expectations.”
So, I’ll have to go with my opinion, based on my observations above:
Providence St. John’s Santa Monica created a so-called “Star”. Dr. Anton Bilchik, with his boyish (semi) good looks, calm cool (sociopathic-like) demeanor and South African accent, who better?…
Only problem is, he’s a REAL fake!… However, when Hollywood creates its fake stars, generally, no ones life is at stake.
I want to reiterate the opinions expressed in this article are mine alone and based on the story of my father’s demise, links, tabs and evidence I herein provide. I URGE anyone considering surgery with Dr. Anton Bilchik or any other surgeon to do their own in-depth research.
Since having been aware of this webpage, Anton Bilchik et al had multiple links changed or removed. Hence many are now PDF copies. You can see the changes they made on the resources page. They also stopped reporting their procedure rates to Leapfrog, patient safety advocates. For more info and stats please visit the FAQs you should ask page.
– Nadia L.