Shameless in Seattle ….
The Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission has certain VALUES, which, according to its mission statement, includes a commitment to “honor the public’s trust and maintain the highest standards of accountability and ethics,” and to take seriously its “role as a trusted source of health information.”
One of the best muckrakers of medical matters, William Heisel, reports this week that those values will be whittled down a bit if certain lawmakers can convince their esteemed colleagues to pass HB 2139, which would make records of certain disciplinary actions unknowable to the public, make them, in other words, secret. Heisel illustrates the impact of such a proposal with the case of a doctor whose dangerous actions would remain forever unknown to unsuspecting patients.
So, there are dangerous doctors on the loose, and certain politicians think that people in the Evergreen State don’t really need to be in the loop on that.
Who are these politicians? This is not the venue for a full-blown tour of the cat house, so I just picked the first name listed on the proposed legislation, HB 2139, which begins as follows:
“NEW SECTION. Sec. 1. The legislature considers physicians and physician assistants as lifelong learners. The legislature further recognizes the nature of this learning, practice correction, and practice improvement typically occurs in an environment that is conducive to learning but not without consequence… “
Consequence for the patient, that is.
HB 2139 would outlaw public consequences for the offending medical provider. The consequences for the patients in Heisel’s story include a woman whose small bowel was ‘lacerated” as a dangerous doctor was removing her fallopian tube. The doctor in question figured he’d just sew it up himself — even though he didn’t know what he was doing. Another time this doc “operated on a patient who had a tear between her vagina and her rectum,” despite the fact that it was too soon to operate — because the patient was still recovering from the botched job that the first doctor performed. And then there was the time the doc found a tear in the patient’s colon and repaired it without consulting a general surgeon, with disastrous results; infections, obstructions, colostomies, more major surgeries.
And THIS guy, Rep. Paul Harris (among others), thinks that this kind of thing is a little bit too much information for patients in Washington State. Why would anybody think that? Well, Paul (who works for a sleazy healthcare collection agency) wins elections with the generous help of The Washington State Medical Society. Other of Paul’s generous friends include The Washington State Dental Association, The Washington Chiropractic Trust, The Washington State Hospital Association, various insurance and pharmaceutical companies — and of course the good folks who peddle booze, cigarettes and fast foods. The latter group ensures a customer base for the former. Harris’s co-sponsors for the Protection of Dangerous Medical Professionals Act are similarly endowed.
NEXT WEEK: We peel back the scab over the festering corruption in Seattle’s upper chamber as they fight to help the state medical board “honor the public’s trust and maintain the highest standards of accountability and ethics…”
Stay tuned ….