Michigan Licensing Board Ignores Complaints About Doctors: Delaware, Anyone?
A friend of mine called yesterday to tell me more about the situation in Delaware, with the physician who was allowed to abuse hundreds of children because the licensing board refused to investigate complaints submitted years before. My friend is a physician, and she knows well the situations of our other friends, some of whom have been seriously abused by physicians here in Michigan and yet can’t get the Michigan Licensing Board to investigate. To the good physicians, like her, the concept that a licensing board wouldn’t investigate medical wrong-doings is almost inconceivable. She works with physicians–she knows they are human and therefore vulnerable to error or abuse.
My post on the Michigan Licensing Board has garnered some attention from readers in the blogosphere, with some readers suggesting that I investigate the phenomenon of physician abuse further because no one else is willing to. After all, if doctors police themselves, then who is there to investigate? I am open to posting comments in this area, open to receiving information regarding abusive doctors, but I am also growing increasingly weary, as I hear from other readers, of the institutional level of systematically ignoring patients because they don’t have the same education and therefore can’t be believed. How is one to institute a complaint then? How will physicians be brought to the forefront of accountability if there is no true investigatory bureau, especially in Michigan, with Delaware just the latest example of abusive power structures. After all, the international community talks of arresting the Pope, so what makes abusive physicians safe?
What does keep physicians safe? I know for a fact that many practicing physicians in Michigan keep a double set of records, some that they release to patients and some that they never release except amongst themselves, and even though this is illegal, there has been, as of yet, no move by Michigan authorities. Comments I have heard include: “Lawyers love to get their hands on this stuff, so we need to document it in another area.” Some physicians just say things like: “We don’t like to release records to patients; we release them to physicians’ offices.” So, without refusing to release records, the physicians offices are still stonewalling in providing consumers direct access to their medical information.
I must make it clear here too that in light of their complaints, the women I know have submitted evidence of the Michigan Licensing Board’s failure to investigate claims to: Governor Granholm (no response), Governor Granholm’s Special Investigatory Division (no response), the State of Michigan Department of Community Health (response = no investigation if Licensing Board refuses to take complaints seriously), and other Michigan legislators. The results, by multiple people involved in reporting physician errors have been disappointing. Even though I know of at least 6 reports, neither the governor’s office, nor the Department of Community Health, not to mention the Licensing Board, ever started investigations.
So how does one get Michigan officials to take abuse and error claims against physicians seriously? Well, honestly I don’t know. I told my friend who called that I had no more information, that even though Delaware officials were investigating the lack of investigation, it seemed to me to be too little too late. “Surely now they will do something, because they’ve seen the news on Delaware, right?” says my friend.
We can only hope, but as of yet, the State of Michigan has now ignored at least 6 complaints, and I have just started keeping track. Dear Readers, if you know of anymore, please feel free to send them in. Thanks to those of you who have already done so.