Monday, November 5, 2012

More About Doctors . . .

Last week, one of the local news stations ran a piece "exposing" a surgeon who had allegedly botched numerous surgical procedures and was still practicing.  The piece was done by the station's consumer reporter.  I hate hearing these stories because the reporters are often very biased and seem to simply seek out the sensational stories.

Quite often when these types of stories are broadcast, it's because an attorney for the "victims" has brought the story to the media, and there's really nothing a doctor in this situation can say to defend himself or herself.  As I mentioned yesterday, occasionally doctors make mistakes, but more often than not when lawsuits are involved and the patients have suffered a bad outcome, the bad outcome is simply one of the known risks of the treatment and is not the result of any wrongdoing on the part of the doctor.  Usually those kinds of cases end up being dismissed in the long run, but in the meantime, the kind of media attention I saw last week can do a lot of damage to a physician's medical practice and reputation--and it's really not fair to the doctor.

At the end of this particular news story last week, the news anchor expressed outrage and disbelief that the doctor's license hadn't yet been suspended or revoked.  I wonder what the news anchor would have thought if he was in a similar situation--if he had been fired from his job based simply on an unproven accusation and prior to any investigation into the complaint?  I bet he'd be upset.  I don't know why he didn't seem to "get" that the physician hadn't been fully investigated yet, nor had he had a hearing to determine whether he'd done anything wrong.

I usually like to look into these kinds of stories a little further.  In this case, there had been an accusation filed with the Medical Board and a hearing is scheduled before the Office of Administrative Hearings.  The rather odd thing, though, is that the accusation filed with the Medical Board wasn't brought by the women interviewed for the news story.  Those two women apparently have civil suits against the doctor, but I don't think those cases have been heard and decided yet either.  And when I looked at Yelp to get an idea of how the doctor's patients felt about the care they received, the doctor had a very high rating with enough different reviewers over a long period of time that there didn't seem to be much question the ratings and comments were legitimate.

Yesterday I mentioned looking up a physician with the state medical licensing board.  Here's what the website's lookup page looks like here in California:


In California, the listings for DO's--doctors of osteopathic medicine--are separate; if I check for a doctor and the name doesn't produce results, I click over to the listing for DO's and try.

Information about a doctor's medical school is also listed on the Medical Board's website.  Here in the U.S., we often believe that doctors who didn't attend medical school in the U.S. must have received a substandard education.  And it is true that sometimes students who can't get into a medical school in the U.S. will be accepted into schools in other countries.  But just the fact that a doctor attended medical school in another country doesn't mean the doctor isn't a good one; do a little research into the medical school to learn whether it's well respected.

One of the claims made by the attorney in the news story I saw is that if her clients had known this doctor's background and initial training was as an OB/GYN, they never would have gone to him for plastic surgery.  I've looked at this doctor's training and credentials, and it seems he's had quite a lot of training as a plastic surgeon, even if he did start off as an OB/GYN.  And his website clearly lists his credentials as an OB/GYN, so it's not hidden by any means.  Really, with the number of resources available to patients through the internet and other sources, there's no reason these women couldn't have done some checking before they underwent the surgical procedures they're now complaining of.  At the very least, as patients undergoing surgery, it's certainly a good idea to ask the surgeon how long he's been performing a specific surgery and how many of these surgeries he's done before.

Most of us wouldn't buy a car . . . or even a vacuum cleaner! . . . without checking the reviews and doing a little research, so why do we think it's okay to put our health and our lives into the hands of someone we know nothing about?

5 comments:

Donna said...

Even though I live in Canada and the access to information for doctors is not the same in my area, I have found your blog interesting reading the last couple of day. Thanks

Alice said...

Thank you for helping us see that consumer research is necessary in all areas of our lives.

Jean Burke said...

These posts have been very interesting - and have lots of good info. Thanks!! Another valuable service provided by the generous quilting community. Thanks again for sharing your knowledge and expertise. Piece....

Gran - Knot-y Embroidery Lady said...

Phew - what the heck did I miss! Your blog is well written and of course interests me now.

DangAndBlast! said...

as a surgeon's wife, I love this pair of posts!