Thursday 25 September 2014

Doctors who are immoral and/or negligent                    

Sex offenders are detestable human beings but the two worst such offenders are child molesters and doctors who sexually abuse their patients. The reason why these two offenders are the worst is because they have breached the trust between themselves and their victims.

Sexual assaults by doctors include any inappropriate touching that goes beyond the required scope of the examination. It can also include the doctor performing unnecessary examinations, or intentionally not wearing gloves during an examination. Given that doctors routinely perform pap tests, pelvic exams, and other procedures involving intimate areas, patients are particularly vulnerable to sexual assault.  There have been doctors who have sexually assaulted patients who were unconscious while being operated on.                                                                                                           

Children are also vulnerable to being sexual assaulted by their doctor and are even less likely recognize that what is being done to them is wrong. There have been a number of cases of paediatricians and family physicians sexually assaulting child patients. The trauma and damage inflicted on the child by such sexual abuse can have a significant negative impact on them for the remainder of their lives such as being distrustful of doctors per se.

With advances in technology voyeurism cases against doctors are becoming more common in Canada. Voyeurism is openly defined by the Criminal Code to include any surreptitious viewing of a person who has a reasonable expectation of privacy. There have been several cases of doctors using a hidden video camera to record naked patients during examinations. Since the patient is unaware of the recordings, and the patient is in circumstances that give rise to an expectation of privacy in the examination room, this likely constitutes voyeurism as defined by the criminal code. 

Not all sexual assaults by doctors occur in their examination rooms. In February, 2011, two Ontario-area doctors were charged with drugging and sexually assaulting a girl in a Toronto hotel room. In the alleged facts of the case, the accused doctors did not take advantage of a patient’s vulnerability, but instead used access to medication and status as physicians to execute their crime. The alleged victim in this case was not a patient, but a person seeking employment advice. 

Other cases have been reported that involve doctors trading sex with patients for prescriptions for drugs such as Oxycontin and Hydromorphone. In those cases, the offending physicians use their authority to write prescriptions to highly addictive substances as a bargaining tool for sex. Such actions are both illegal and unethical. Victims in these cases tend to be poor, drug addicted, and some may possibly have criminal backgrounds or be involved in other court cases. 

Given the vulnerable nature of drug addicted patients agreeing to sex in exchange for prescriptions, they may feel that nobody would believe their story if they reported it to the police. They may also fear an inability to receive proper medical care, or needed medical notes and referrals in the future if they do not comply. They also realize that their source of illicit drugs given to them by their doctors who sexually abuse them will come to an abrupt end.

Punishment for medical doctors who sexually assault patients can include criminal charges, civil lawsuits, and restrictions on their ability to practice medicine being imposed by the college of physicians and surgeons.   

Like other forms of sexual assault, patients are entitled to sue their doctor for the abuse he thrust upon them. This legal action is separate from any criminal case against the doctor, and from any action that may be taken against the doctor by the college of physicians and surgeons. Having a criminal conviction, and/or the medical society taking action against the doctor’s actions is good evidence in support of a legal case against the offender but is not necessary for a civil lawsuit. If the doctor has admitted wrongdoing, the only issue may be to determine is how much financial compensation is appropriate. 

Even if the medical society doesn’t take action against the offending doctor, that doesn’t mean that the civil action shouldn’t be brought against the doctor if there is sufficient proof that justifies going ahead.  This is because the rule of reasonable doubt applied in the medical society’s hearing doesn’t apply in a related civil case. The O.G. Simpson murder case has certainly proved that. He was acquitted by a jury of murdering his ex-wife and her boyfriend on the basis of reasonable doubt but he lost the civil case against him on the basis of the ponderous of evidence presented to the civil jury that was hearing the civil case against him. In criminal cases, the juries must give the defendant the benefit of doubt but juries in civil cases don’t have to be that determined. If they are convinced that he probably did the crime; that is good enough to render a verdict against the defendant.

Some doctors don’t use a subterfuge to sexually assault their patients. They go directly to the patient’s genitals. Take the case of an Anaheim Hills, California doctor whose name is David Hung Do. In one occasion, a woman came to see him for a prescription for a seasickness patch. Do touched her breast and put his bare hand down her pants, reaching for and then touching her genitals. Did this idiot really believe that his patient wouldn’t call the police? He was arrested and the California Medical Board revoked his license to practice in California.

There were investigations into Dr. Roger Ian Hardy, who practiced at the nine-office Fertility Center in Massachusetts, New Hampshire, and Maine, in 2004. Staff had reportedly witnessed the reproductive endocrinologist inappropriately touching women while they were under anesthesia, as well as touching a sedated patient’s breast while she was underwent egg retrieval. He also and touched an employee’s breast. A longtime patient in her 40s confided said that the 55-year-old Hardy touched her sexually and rubbed her genitals during an un-chaperoned 2011 examination. Dr. Hardy told her extensive sexual touching was ‘part of her fertility treatment’. She didn’t fall for that malarkey. She filed a complaint. The medical authorities in the states of California, Maine and New Hampshire suspended his license to practice medicine.

Dr. George Doodnaught, a Canadian anesthesiologist who was called a “sexual opportunist” by the Crown, (prosecutor) had pleaded not guilty to sexually assaulting 21 women between ages 25 and 75 while they were being operated on. The assaults reported by all the women were similar since they generally involved a combination of Doodnaught kissing them, fondling their breasts and putting his penis in their mouths or hands while they were under conscious sedation. His lawyer argued that the women had been hallucinating but the judge didn’t accept that argument and convicted the doctor of molesting all 21 of the women.  He was sentenced to 10 years in prison. Needless to say, his licence to practice medicine was revoked. Sexually molesting patients in an operating room, a place of ultimate trust, is extremely shocking.

Montebello, California police began investigating Dr. Arturo Vargas, a family doctor after a female patient he treated at the Kaiser Permanente Medical Offices in Montebello, reported being molested by him during an examination in July of 2011. Investigators arrested him. After word of Vargas' January 2, 2012 arrest became public, seven additional women came forward to report being sexually assaulted by Vargas according to Los Angeles County Deputy District Attorney Martha Carrillo. He was released on bail after posting a $925,000 bond. I don’t know if he was convicted but if convicted as charged, Vargas would face up to 104 years in state prison. Of course his licence to practice medicine was revoked.

I want to tell you about a Canadian doctor, Sastri Maharajh of Mississauga, Ontario who was accused of sexually molesting women during his examination of them. A disciplinary committee of the College of Physicians and Surgeons of Ontario last year ruled that he sexually abused a female patient and engaged in similar inappropriate conduct with as many as 12 other women. For each of these twelve patients, Dr. Maharajh acknowledges that he either placed his mouth on the patient’s breast, or he rested his cheek lightly on the patient’s breast," according to the ruling, issued Nov. 5, 2013. The panel heard that On July 5, 2011, a woman, whose identity is protected under a publication ban, attended for an appointment with Maharajh. Her complaints that day included wheezing and ongoing pain in the left breast. Dr. Maharajh examined her ears, nose and throat first and found that her throat was red. He told her she likely had a viral infection. Maharajh next began examining her chest with his stethoscope. She was not wearing a gown, the panel determined. While being examined, the patient "felt something odd on her right nipple. She noticed that Maharajh's head was close to her chest and realized he had his lips on her nipple. This occurred three times. She turned her head to look and saw Maharajh cupping her nipple with his mouth. She asked, “What are you doing?”  He stood up and then replied “Nothing,” according to the ruling.  

The disciplinary panel didn’t think he was doing nothing so they suspended Maharajh’s medical licence for eight months and ruled that he can only treat male patients for an indeterminate period of time. He was also ordered to pay the College more than $112,000 towards funding for any therapy and counselling provided to these female patients, many of whom were in their 40s and 50s, and he must also continue getting therapy. Maharajh continues to practice at the MD Walk-In in Mississauga.

It was a very wrong decision for the College to let this man off so easily especially when the decision also mentioned that there is a risk that he may sexually abuse woman again in his capacity of a doctor. I think their decision is a blatant disregard for the safety, security and wellbeing of doctor’s patients.

In the United States, the penalty for bungling in an operation can be severe.  For example, a Queens New York obstetrician was convicted of second-degree murder on August 8, 1995 in the death of a woman who went to him for an abortion, making him the first doctor in New York State found guilty of murder stemming from the medical mistreatment of a patient. Dr. David Benjamin, 58 faced 25 years to life in prison in the death of the woman, Guadalupe Negron, 33, who bled to death two years ago in the doctor's storefront clinic in Corona, Queens, after the bungled abortion, which occurred as Dr. Benjamin was appealing the revocation of his license. During his trial, Dr. Benjamin was accused of showing depraved indifference to human life.

Testimony showed that Dr. Benjamin performed a complicated, late-term abortion that he did not have the skills to do, and that he misled emergency workers who arrived at the scene, playing down the severity of the woman's condition.

There has been only one other case nationwide of a doctor being convicted of murder in the death of a patient. In 1989 in California, Dr. Milos Klvana was also convicted in the deaths of eight infants and a fetus for his actions in trying to deliver babies at home. During the trial, the prosecution said that during the removal of Mrs. Negron's 19- to 20-week-old fetus at the Metro Women's Clinic on July 9, 1993, Dr. Benjamin caused a three-inch tear in the woman's uterus and vagina, and then left her to bleed to death in the recovery room while he performed an abortion on a second woman.

A number of years ago when I was a private investigator, I and my boss drove to Detroit to interview witnesses who were to testify against a doctor, (our client) with respect to him abandoning a patient still on the operating table while he left his clinic and crossed the street to go to a restaurant so he could have his lunch. He didn’t leave a nurse in the operating room. When he returned, he discovered that his patient had bled to death. He was convicted and sent to prison for many years.

The worse case I heard about, took place in an operating room in Japan. In the middle of the operation, the surgeon suddenly stopped what he was doing, looked at his watch and then exclaimed, “My shift is over.” Then he walked out of the operating room and went home.

I have seen really stupid doctors in my time. I had a small accident while climbing a mountain back in the 1950s and a day later, I was suffering severe pain in my ankle. I went to a doctor and he sprinkled some anti-bacterial powder on the wound and told me to return in two days. But the next day, it seemed as if my entire leg was on fire so I went to another doctor. He felt a lump under my left arm and told me that I was suffering from blood poisoning. I was hospitalized for four days. I was told that had I waited to the third day to re-visit my original doctor, I would have died in the interim. If during my first visit with that doctor he had placed his hand under my armpit, he too would have recognized that I was suffering from blood poisoning. Treating blood poisoning with anti-bacterial powder doesn’t cure you of blood poisoning,

In the 1960s, I saw a man pinned in a car that had been in an accident and was laying on its side. The police were trying to remove the pinned man trapped inside. A doctor walked by and said, “If you put the car in an upright position, it will be easier to remove him from the car. I was aghast. I said to him, “You mighty break his neck or back from the shock of up righting the car.” He relied haughtily, “Get away otherwise I will tell the police to arrest you with interfering with our steps to remove this man from his car.” I backed off. They up righted the car and when it was level after a loud thud, I heard the man inside the car screaming in pain.  Nowadays, first attenders aren’t that stupid.

A friend of mine told me that one day he saw his tenant who was a doctor, walking on the street while an old man who slipped on the ice had fallen down. The man asked the doctor if he would help him to his feet. The doctor replied, “Sorry. I can’t stop to help you. I am late for an appointment.”  He continued walking away from the prostrate man on the sidewalk. I guess the old man wasn’t a paying patient of the doctor.

There has been a myth that all family doctors give so generously of themselves and are wise in everything. Many of them fit this description but many do not. Doctors are not infallible. Some are extremely negligent and others are not only negligent; they are also indifferent to the wellbeing of their patients and sex fiends. The question that is on everyone’s minds are; “How can I be sure that my doctor is qualified, has my best interests in mind and is not a sex fiend?” Yes. Some doctors have also molested men.

Unfortunately, the medical governing bodies tend to keep secret the bad ones whom they still permit to practice medicine so making enquiries with them isn`t going to help. If you read about a bad one in a newspaper, you should keep the article if he is practicing in your area and even if he is practicing across the country because he could move into your area.  The best way to find out who the bad ones are is through a search engine on the Internet. Their names and their wrongdoings will be listed forever.

Back in the 1990s, a client of mine came to me and said that she wanted to sue her late mother’s doctor. She said that the doctor was a surgeon who did a heart operation on her mother and her mother died on the operating table because of an alleged error on the doctor’s part. I prepared the statement of claim for her and later she used a lawyer who specializes in wrongful death cases in courts. I don’t know what the results of the trial were. In 1999, I was scheduled for a triple bypass heart operation. I was more concerned about the anesthetic being given to me because I heard that there were instances in which the patients woke up in the middle of their operations. As it turned out, I didn’t wake up during my operation. I wasn’t that concerned who my surgeon was going to be. The operation on my heart was a success. It wasn’t until after my operation that I learned who my heart surgeon was. It was the same surgeon whom I had prepared the wrongful death statement claim for my client.

Today’s medical care is a mixture of professional brilliance and bungling and near genius surgical procedures and totally greedy unnecessary ones. Lives are saved and others are needlessly wasted. Experts have estimated that there have been several million unnecessary operations performed annually resulting in tens of thousands of unnecessary deaths.  Prescriptions by careless doctors can also be a hazard to unsuspecting patients.

By a conservative estimate, every year as many as 1.5 million people require hospitalization for adverse reaction to the wrong medicine being given to them by their doctors.  I am indeed fortunate. My medicine is checked by my pharmacist to make sure that none of the medicine I take conflicts with the other medicine I am given. For example, I know that Aspirin is good for one’s heath but before I bought a bottle of it, I asked my pharmacist if I should buy it. He said I shouldn’t because one of the pills my doctor prescribed for me keeps my blood from clogging. He told me that if I take Aspirin every day, my blood will be dangerously thin.

Many doctors don’t explain to their patients the full picture of their illnesses. They gloss over their illnesses and leave the patient uninformed as to why a certain surgical procedure is necessary or why certain medicine should be prescribed. 

I remember years ago, one of my clients came to me and said that her lawyer had got an agreement from an insurance company to settle for a million dollars with respect to her injuries she suffered in a car accident in which she wasn’t at fault. She wanted my advice as to whether or not she should take the offer and settle her claim. She said that she didn’t know just how serious her injuries were because neither the doctor or her lawyer went into depth by explaining to her what her internal injuries were and how they would have an effect on the rest of her life.  I have a very extensive library in my study and many of the books deal with every illnesses and surgical procedures known. I got her lawyer to give her a copy of her complete medical report she hadn’t seen and she gave it to me to study. It took me four days to completely understand the nomenclature and descriptions and surgical procedures listed in the doctor’s report. On the fifth day, I wrote a ten-page report to her explaining what the damage to her organs were and the treatment she would need and how the slightly damaged organs would have an effect on her for the rest of her life. She thanked me for giving her a full report that should have been given to her by her doctor. Unfortunately, doctors don’t have the time to go into that much detail with their patients and that is why she needed someone else to do it for her. She accepted the offer of settlement.

The licence to practice on your doctor’s wall is meaningless. It simply states that your doctor has the minimum qualifications to practice medicine. And sometimes, those are the only qualifications some doctors have.  For the most part, I have been lucky. My family doctors are experienced and with experience, their qualifications certainly exceed any minimum qualifications they might have had when they applied for their licences.

One of the problems facing patients whose doctors bungled the diagnosis, treatment or surgery is getting other doctors to testify against the bungling doctors. Some of them will avoid testifying against a colleague with whom they worked for career-related reasons, which in a case of medical malpractice, is unethical and wrong because the wellbeing of the patients and the profession should be tantamount in their minds. However there are physicians who review cases for lawyers to determine if there has been a breech in the standard of care given to the patient who is a plaintiff in a suit against his or her doctor.  And if any of them don’t wish to testify in court, they can be subpoenaed as a witness and testify as to what they wrote in their report. 

I remember when on one occasion, I had been asked to serve a subpoena on a doctor who was trying to avoid being served. When I arrived at his office, I said to his secretary, “I wish to see the doctor.”  She asked, “What is your reason you wish to see him?” I replied, I have a document to give to him.” She and the doctor knew why I was there so I had to wait in the line in which ten patients were ahead of me. And when new ones came in, they were placed ahead of me.  After half an hour had passed, I had enough of this nonsense so I looked directly at the secretary and said in a very loud voice so that the doctor would hear me behind the closed door. “Tell the doctor that he has to go to court tomorrow to explain to the judge why he did what he did with respect to a patient.” Now what he did was merely write a report for a lawyer about the bungling of another doctor. But they patients in his office no doubt thought I was talking about their doctor doing something wrong to his own patient. He barged out of the treatment room and grabbed the document out of my hand and said to those waiting to see him, “I am merely a witness.” To get even to him further for keeping me waiting so long in his office, I looked at the doctor as I was heading towards the door to the hallway, I said, “Come on, Doctor. Tell them what you did.”  Revenge can be sweet.

We rely on surgeons do their job properly because if they don’t do it properly, we could end up dead. Did you know that the total number of medical errors and deaths in the United States alone equals six jumbo jets crashing every day? In one decade, the deaths caused by conventional medical treatment were approximately 8 million. This is more than all the casualties from all the wars the United States has ever fought in and that's just during one decade. It is the third cause of deaths anywhere.

Picking your doctor should be no different than picking a car to buy. You want to know as much as you are able to find out so you can sure that you get what you want. If you go to the Internet and learn that a certain model of car that you have your eyes on is prone to crashing, you won’t buy it. If you go to the Internet and learn that the doctor you want to go to has a record of mistakes or wrongful behavior, you will choose another who passes muster.  As I said earlier, the vast majority of doctors are great. It’s the bad ones that will do you harm. 

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