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The International Hormone Society

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Newsletters arrow Volume 1, 2006 arrow Defending Your Practice
Defending Your Practice

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A Note From Dr. Jackie Springer

"The power of the Executive to cast a man into prison without formulating any charge known to the law, and particularly to deny him the judgment of his peers, is in the highest degree odious and is the foundation of all totalitarian government whether Nazi or Communist."    
Winston Churchill

Many of you already know that the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts revoked my license to practice medicine on December 14, 2004.

I have since been working with lawyers and doctors trying to reverse this most egregious action.  I know it will turn around and may even turn out to be one of the best things ever to happen to me.  "What doesn't kill us will make us stronger"; right?  What I have learned over this past year has been shocking.  I would like to help prevent this from happening to you so I will share a few of the things I have learned during the past year.

When it comes to administrative law it is a whole different ballgame; you need a legal specialist.  I believe it is fair to say that in administrative law "anything goes".  There is no civil law to protect your rights when you come in front of a medical board.  The board does not have to follow normal rules of law; admissibility of evidence, established legal procedure, due process, basic fairness, etc.  Because of the Health Care Quality Improvement Act (HCQIA) medical boards have immunity that is virtually impossible to penetrate and they know it.  It would take millions of dollars and many years to win a law suit against a medical board.  The immunity is granted to anyone involved in the process from the person who complains about you to the board all the way to the janitor that cleans up after their meetings.

District courts seldom overturn agency decisions.  The district courts assume (erroneously) that the agency was fair in their decisions and rarely reverse that decision.  Andrew Schlafly, attorney for the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, told me that the only state to overturn a board's decision was Pennsylvania.  Talk to other doctors who have been through it and you will learn that seldom will you prevail in a "real" courtroom if you lose your license.

There are organizations to help you.  There are lawyers that know this field of law, so seek them out.  Ask doctors in your state who have been through this nightmare to help you.  You cannot do it alone, you must ask for help.  That is probably one of the biggest things to keep in mind; don't try to do it alone. Try to avoid going to a full hearing if that is at all possible.  Try to resolve your case without a hearing as it will be very expensive and the chance you will prevail is not good.  Medical boards can use just one doctor's opinion as the "standard of care".  The boards tend to "rubber stamp" the opinion of the doctor of their choosing, who testifies against you.  So you MUST know what that doctor's opinion is and what evidence to present in your defense.  Kansas statutes, as in many states, allow the state board to establish “standard of care according to the board".  Consequently, “standard of care” is flimsy, at best, and is defined according to the board’s whim and agenda for the case before them.  So, you have an idea who is making up the standard of care; lawyers!  The doctor that testified against me actually admitted that the medical literature she reviewed was what the Kansas Board of Healing Arts gave her.  Now how can one give an unbiased opinion when the only medical literature reviewed is supplied by the medical board?  You get the picture?

There are organizations that you should contact immediately upon learning your medical board is considering charges against you.  Here are four:

The Center for Peer Review Justice http://www.peerreview.org/

Association of American Physicians and Surgeons, Inc. http://www.aapsonline.org/

American of Advancement of Medicine http://www.acam.org/

Semmelweis Society International http://www.semmelweis.org/ or http://www.semmelweis.net

 Take an active part in all phases of your case.  Be sure your attorney understands administrative law in your state and believes in what you are doing.  If there is anyway to make an agreement with the board that allows you to continue practicing medicine, make the agreement.  You may not be totally happy with what they demand of you but believe me it is better than fighting them.

The deck is stacked against you!  Even with the best attorney and a lot of money to fight them, statistically they will win.  It is simply not a fair playing field.  They intend to reprimand you and they do not care how nice you, how competent you are as a doctor or how many patients believe you are the best doctor in the world.  It is their goal to add to their numbers reported by the Federation of State Medical Boards.  They are given incentives to reprimand more doctors.  License revocations are given more “clout” than simple fines or censures.

The bottom line? Big Brother is watching. ¨JS¨

 

 

 

 

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