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When medical review boards abdicate their responsibility, A bad outcome but no malpractice, Note from the editors
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Your article about expert witnesses, "The penalty for bearing false witness" [Aug. 9], could not have been more timely. It landed on my desk just a week before a hearing on a complaint I filed against a physician expert for the Kentucky Board of Medical Licensure. His testimony against me was so farfetched that I had to seek some remedy.
But my personal case aside, I've noticed that doctors are often at a distinct disadvantage before medical review boards, many of whom merely rubber-stamp the findings of their hearing officers. Busy with their practices and other responsibilities, board members frequently delegate the entire review process to the experts and hearing officers without ever studying the evidence themselves. Left in those hands, a doctor can easily find himself suspended or otherwise sanctioned.
Hopefully, my complaint will restore some balance to the review process, at least by making the experts think twice about the accuracy of their testimony.
While "How a secret malpractice deal unraveled," [Aug. 23] is a sad commentary on an obstetrical event gone tragically awry, at least the outcome of the story is encouraging: The case against ob/gyn James Blair was eventually dismissed.
There was no hint of malpractice in your description of the rupture of the amniotic fluid embolism that took the life of Thomas Newcomb's wife, leaving him with a newborn daughter who was brain-damaged. Just because something bad happens does not mean someone is at fault. Sometimes bad things just happen. I'm glad Dr. Blair didn't have to pay a judgment, but it's sad that our system forces him, or anyone, to bear the costs of such unfortunate litigation.
Charles A. Pilcher, MD
Thank goodness that plaintiff Newcomb never was able to steal a cent! Unfortunately, there were some successful thieves in this storythe attorneys on both sides who pocketed the fees generated by their interminable litigation shenanigans. There's a lot of money to be made in medicinebut not by its practitioners.
BJ Bett, MD
West Salem, OH
Note from the editors
An ad in the Oct. 11, 2002 issue of Medical Economics contained unfortunate references to an article published in an earlier issue of the magazine. The article described how a seven-doctor family practice group developed its own basic EMR system. The ad's content belittled those efforts. It in no way represents the viewpoint of the magazine or its editors, nor were we aware of its content before publication. We apologize to the practice targeted by the ad and have taken steps to assure that nothing like this happens again.
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