After its last meeting, in late August, the board announced decisions on four sex-related cases. Two involved doctors whom judges had already sentenced for crimes against children. Two involved psychiatrists found to have had affairs with adult patients – potentially sexual assault under Texas law, but they've not been charged.
The child abusers were allowed to go on practicing medicine, though not with kids. The other two are working without restrictions.
It's all part of a broader pattern of tolerance for misconduct, a News analysis shows. Others who kept their licenses after the August meeting include two doctors convicted of lucrative federal crimes that put patients in harm's way; a neurosurgeon who operated on the wrong body part four times; a cardiologist found to have performed dozens of invasive procedures with little or no cause; and at least seven physicians linked to a death.
In the article, the Texas Medical Board explains this and other problems in their disciplinary process to the process itself.
The "further improvements" reference points back to 2002, when the newspaper series led to reform pledges – and to actual change. The board got money to expand its investigative and legal operations. It began examining malpractice claims, many involving patient deaths, which had been ignored for years. The number of cases resulting in discipline shot up. More doctors began to lose their licenses.
But while playing catch-up, the board also has faced a surge of new business. It granted almost 50 percent more licenses in the recently ended fiscal year than in 2002. The number of patients complaining to the board was up 35 percent.
Texas is "a favorable location to practice medicine" because of a relatively strong economy and caps on malpractice awards, board officials explained in a legislative funding request last year. The caps, which voters approved in 2003, also "may have resulted in patients who previously filed malpractice suits now turning to the state regulatory agency to resolve concerns about their care."
The TMB essentially says that with Texas having a good economy as well as favorable laws for doctors (see tort reform) that their resources are extended. In fact, I think there's a much simpler reason and that's corruption. The reason that the TMB doesn't punish bad doctors is because the TMB is filled with systemic corruption. Besides the four doctors mentioned in the piece that should have their license revoked, I'll add a few more that I know of. First, there's Dr. Dan Dugi of Cuero, Texas. In this early 2007 report, Dr. Dugi was caught by investigative reporters from Houston's KPRC of testing a drug not approved by the FDA without patients' permission.
Food and Drug Administration has launched an investigation into a mysterious medicine that was tested on patients in several small towns southwest of Houston, Local 2 Investigates reported Thursday.
The federal investigation centers around a complaint filed by a nurse anesthetist who reported that he witnessed the unapproved drug being given to patients without their knowledge or consent.
emphasized in an elaborate sales packet that Dugi provided to Local 2 Investigates.
Former CEO Buckner said, "When I asked him what was in this product as the active ingredient, he wouldn't disclose it, (saying) 'It's still patent pending, waiting for FDA approval,' and they couldn't share that information with us."
In the promotional literature provided to Local 2 Investigates, Dugi wrote that he had treated "well over 1000 patients" and he reported "a superior success rate" in over 90 percent of the patients he treated.
The sales pamphlet then contains 18 separate entries marked "Case Summary," spelling out how the drug performed when applied to those patients' wounds. Some of the documents are marked, "Confidential," but Dugi admitted to KPRC Local 2 that they were all his patients. Photographs and graphs illustrate the healing of the various wounds.
When KPRC Local 2 Investigates approached Dugi for answers, he invited the camera crew into a back room at one of his clinics, but he said very little.
"No filming! No filming!" Dugi said.
The main source on this story, Tim Goosby, had given all of this information and more to the TMB starting in 2003. Dr. Dugi continues in his position at Cuero Community Hospital to this day. The FDA has since removed the drug. Dugi is now being investigated by the U.S. Attorney in the area for crimes related to this and other events.
Then, there's the case of Dr. Mark Blotcky. Dr. Blotcky has had complaints to the board by three former patients that I've confirmed. The most recent complaint came within the last year. Complaints range from misdiagnosis, misuse of prescription drugs, as well as all sorts of corruption related charges related to his duties as an expert witness in the Dallas County family court system. Dr. Blotcky continues to be a practicing psychiatrist in Dallas today.
On the other side, the TMB often targets doctors for wrongdoing for marginal issues. For instance, there's the case of Dr. Bill Rea. Dr. Rea was investigated by the TMB following an anonymous complaint from a patient in 2005. Soon enough, it became obvious that the complaint was actually coming from Oxford Medical Insurance. Dr. Rea became a leader in the field of environmental medicine and was able to build his practice without accepting insurance. Dr. Rea employed the help of his roughly 30000 patients and many wrote and communicated to the TMB of his effectiveness. Still, the TMB continued to investigate Dr. Rea for the better part of three years.
I've also featured the cases of Dr. Chris Kuhne and Dr. Shirley Pigott . The TMB threatened to remove Dr. Pigott's license for not providing a set of medical tests in proper time to a patient. Dr. Kuhne had a similar situation with a patient that was changing doctors and asked for their records. When those records didn't arrive on time, the TMB went after Dr. Kuhne, in a case that wound up lasting about four years.
The long time head of the TMB disciplinary committee, Dr. Keith Miller, was removed about two years ago for charges related to corruption in his role on this committee. (It's this committee that decides punishments for the likes of Dr. Kuehne, Dr. Rea and Dr. Blotcky) In fact, TMB corruption was the subject of a Texas legislature hearings and the conclusions from the legislature were scathing.
Greetings! Three months of grueling preparation paid off handsomely as the Texas
Medical Board took one crushing blow after another from the questions of the legislators on the committee and from the testimonies from the physicians and others at the October 23, 2007 House Appropriations Subcommittee on Regulatory Hearing. This hearing was convened to investigate the abuse of power by the Texas Medical Board. It was a marathon session lasting 11-1/2 hours. Without this hearing we would not have been able to expose the corruption at the TMB. We all owe a debt of gratitude to Representative Fred Brown who, by holding this hearing, demonstrated indomitable courage and determination in the face of extreme political pressure to abandon it.
The hearing made it clear that there is an unholy cabal made up of Don Patrick, Executive Director, Mari Robinson, Director of Litigation and Enforcement, and Roberta Kalafut, President of the TMB, who have despoiled the TMB. There can be no reform without removing them from the board.
Both Kalafut and Patrick have either left the board, or in the case of Patrick retired, but Mari Robinson is still the Executive Director of the Texas Medical Board. Finally, at those hearings, Mari Robinson claimed that Dr. Chris Kuehne signed an affidavit admitting to sexual misconduct with a patient. Dr. Kuehne denied this charge to me and stated unequivocally that there is no such affidavit. Robinson, to this day, has never produced this affidavit. Since she was under oath in front of the legislature, if this is a lie, that would constitute perjury.
The article I linked at the start is the first article in a long time really lifting the veil of the TMB to come from the MSM. Still, it merely scratches the surface. It remains to be seen of the Dallas News, and the author of this piece, Brook Egerton, will stop here or follow up. There should be no shortage of stories if they choose the latter.