Wisconsin doctors who make mistakes often don't face serious consequences

2013-01-26T06:00:00Z Wisconsin doctors who make mistakes often don't face serious consequencesDAVID WAHLBERG | Wisconsin State Journal | dwahlberg@madison.com | 608-252-6125 madison.com

It was a routine procedure.

Dr. David Almasy used an electrified wire to remove abnormal tissue from the cervix of Nicole Johnston, a 35-year-old mother of four. To reduce bleeding, he injected epinephrine.

The consequences were anything but routine. Johnston's heart started racing, her blood pressure soared and her lungs filled with fluid, causing her to suffocate and die.

During the procedure at Upland Hills Health in Dodgeville in 2010, Almasy gave her at least 100 times too much epinephrine, records show.

The Wisconsin Medical Examining Board in 2011 reprimanded Almasy, required him to take two classes and fined him $1,200.

"He destroyed my family," said Jaimie Barnes, 18, of Madison, Johnston's daughter. "He should have had his license suspended. I'm baffled he didn't get a higher punishment to fit the crime."

But the medical board's reprimand of Almasy is typical, a State Journal analysis found. The newspaper reviewed all 218 cases leading to medical board discipline from 2010 to 2012, along with dozens of cases in which the board didn't take action.

More than half of the doctors disciplined received reprimands, warnings that go on their records but don't limit their practices.

In at least 50 of the cases involving reprimands, patients died or were harmed, leaving some to wonder why the board didn't order harsher penalties.

The board used the same discipline for doctors who wrote questionable sick notes for protesters at the state Capitol in 2011.

Medical board leaders defended their actions, saying they prefer to rehabilitate doctors rather than punish them, especially for mistakes.

But they also said limited money and authority sometimes prevent the board from taking more serious disciplinary action

"It would be nice to have revocations. It would be nice to have stronger suspensions," said Dr. Sheldon Wasserman, board chairman. "But that comes at a cost. We don't have the resources."

State ranks near bottom

Wisconsin has long ranked near the bottom of states in taking serious actions against doctors, according to the consumer watchdog group Public Citizen.

In the group's latest annual report, in May, the state ranked 46th, up from 49th the previous three years.

Wisconsin's medical board ordered 1.90 serious actions per 1,000 doctors from 2009 to 2011, the latest report found. That's about a third less than top-ranked states.

Wasserman and others say Wisconsin might have better doctors than most states. But Public Citizen said there's no evidence the prevalence of doctors deserving discipline varies substantially among states.

"It's a dysfunctional process," Dan Rottier, a medical malpractice attorney from Madison, said of Wisconsin's medical board. "We tell people never to expect them to do anything."

Rottier's lawsuit against Dr. Leonard Go on behalf of Shelbey Bomkamp led to a $17.3 million settlement in 2009.

Bomkamp — of Highland, northwest of Dodgeville — suffered a permanent brain injury at age 6 during surgery to remove her spleen, according to the lawsuit and medical board records.

During the surgery in 2007 at St. Mary's Hospital in Madison, Go used a blender-like device to chop up her spleen. He accidentally cut major blood vessels and her bowel, records show.

Go, of Dean Clinic, hadn't used the device before, nor had he been trained how to use it.

The medical board reprimanded him in 2011 and fined him $1,800. The fines are based on investigation costs.

Go declined to comment to the State Journal. In a letter to the medical board, he said he expected to "bear lifelong personal remorse" for what happened.

"I firmly believed the technique I was using in this procedure represented a safer option for the patient," he wrote.

But Rottier said the medical board's discipline wasn't enough.

"A child is permanently brain damaged, and he gets a reprimand? It's pathetic," he said.

Slaps on the wrist?

Wasserman said the board's limited budget makes it hard to fight doctors willing to spend large sums to defend themselves. The board is part of the Wisconsin Department of Safety and Professional Services.

The budget was increased to $1.8 million in 2009 through a 33 percent increase in doctor license fees.

This year, the budget is $1.9 million. A $1.25 million transfer of reserve funds by the state to the general fund last year reduced money available for future years, according to the Legislative Fiscal Bureau.

"There's a push to just get it done with, get the plea bargain accepted and approved, rather than sometimes a harder line," Wasserman said.

The state Supreme Court has ruled the board is supposed to protect the public, deter wrongdoing and rehabilitate doctors — but not punish them, said Dr. Gene Musser, a board member and former board chairman.

State statutes say the board should investigate complaints of unprofessional conduct but don't authorize the board to launch its own probes of suspected wrongdoing, Musser said.

Also, Wisconsin doesn't routinely do criminal background checks when doctors apply for licenses, as most states do.

But a major reason Wisconsin ranks low is the medical board's frequent use of reprimands instead of harsher penalties. Public Citizen doesn't consider reprimands to be serious discipline.

"They are slaps on the wrist," said Dr. Sidney Wolfe, director of Public Citizen's health research group. "They don't have any effect on the doctor's practice."

But Musser said when doctors are reprimanded, the state's 23,000 licensed doctors are notified through a newsletter. Prospective employers find out. So can the public, by searching the medical board's website.

"The process a physician goes through to be reprimanded really wakes them up," Musser said. "It is a gigantic event."

Almasy "showed tremendous remorse" for the epinephrine overdose that killed Johnston, Wasserman said. In a letter to the board from his attorney, Almasy said he was "devastated" by what happened. He declined to comment to the State Journal.

Formerly with Dean Clinic, Almasy lost his privileges at the Dodgeville hospital for nine months and now practices in Sterling, Ill.

He said a nurse gave him the wrong concentration of epinephrine, according to medical board records.

But the nurse, in a deposition, said Almasy confirmed the concentration and dosage before injecting the drug. A surgical tech backed up the nurse's account.

An assessment ordered by the medical board said Almasy needed to work on his listening skills.

"He will live with this for the rest of his life," Wasserman said. "That's a tremendous punishment."

Disciplining doctors, whose work often involves life or death, is different from punishing criminals, Musser said.

"We have people in general who did not mean to do bad," he said. "They are meaning to do good."

An unwanted hysterectomy

Laurel Dean — of Spooner, in northwest Wisconsin — lost her ability to bear children at age 28 after Dr. Neal Melby performed an emergency hysterectomy.

Melby scheduled the surgery in 2005 at Baldwin Area Medical Center. It was needed to stop bleeding from complications of a routine procedure he had done to remove tissue from Dean's uterus, according to medical board records.

Dr. Marvin Klingler asked Melby to do the routine procedure — dilation and curretage, or D&C — after a pelvic ultrasound was "suspicious" for tissue in Dean's uterus.

But pelvic ultrasounds have a high rate of false positives in women who have recently given birth, the medical board said, and Dean had delivered her first baby seven weeks earlier.

Klingler should have considered nonsurgical options, the board said.

Klingler told the State Journal his recommendation for a D&C was reasonable, and he discussed the potential risks with Dean.

Dean's lawsuit against Melby, who works in New Richmond, led to a confidential settlement in 2008. Her lawsuit against Klingler, who worked in Baldwin until starting a new job in Hudson this year, went to trial the same year. The jury cleared him of negligence but found Melby negligent. Melby declined to comment.

In 2011, the medical board reprimanded both doctors, ordered each of them to take a class, and fined Melby $2,400 and Klingler $850.

Dean said she has a hard time seeing pregnant women and learning that her friends are pregnant. The emotional toll led her and her husband to divorce, she said.

She planned to have at least one more child. Her daughter is 7.

The medical board should have suspended Melby and Klingler and required them to take more classes, Dean said.

"The way it's impacted my life, I feel that it should also have an impact on their lives," she said. "I almost died."

Mad, sympathetic over reprimands

Elsie Nelson, of Two Rivers, went for surgery on the right side of her spine in 2002.

But Dr. Paul Baek operated on the left side, according to medical board records and a lawsuit by Nelson that led to a confidential settlement in 2007.

In 2003, Baek, a neurosurgeon with Aurora Health Care in Green Bay, made the same mistake with another patient, according to the medical board.

The board reprimanded Baek, fined him $2,500 for both incidents and required him to attend a two-day patient safety workshop. Baek declined to comment.

"I would yank his license for six months," said Robert Nelson, Elsie's husband.

Elsie, 83, said another doctor later operated on her right side but she still has pain.

"It makes you mad that doctors screw up more than once and the population at large doesn't know that," she said.

Roger Schwartz is more sympathetic.

In 2003, he suffered a stroke that left him permanently disabled on his left side, according to medical board records and his lawsuit against Dr. Joel Stoeckeler. The suit led to a confidential settlement in 2008.

Stoeckeler, who works in Baldwin, failed to adequately monitor Schwartz's blood thinner levels, putting him at risk for the stroke, according to the medical board.

Stoeckeler told the State Journal he didn't have access to important home health data for Schwartz, and at least six other doctors were involved. "This was a health information failure, not an individual failure," he said.

The board reprimanded Stoeckeler in 2011, fined him $1,900 and required him to take courses in blood thinner management.

"He shouldn't have cut me off (the blood thinner drugs) like that. ... I've got to live with it," said Schwartz, 71, a resident of Wisconsin Veterans Home at King, near Waupaca.

But Schwartz said the reprimand was appropriate. "Other people think he's a good doctor," he said.

Epinephrine overdose

To Jaimie Barnes, Almasy's reprimand was insufficient for her mother's epinephrine overdose.

"It's nothing," she said. "He killed my mom."

Johnston, of Barneveld, was working at Madison Family Dental Associates in April 2010 when she had an abnormal Pap smear.

She had also tested positive for HPV, putting her at greater risk for cervical cancer. After another test found abnormal tissue, Almasy recommended a loop electrosurgical excision procedure to remove it. Johnston agreed.

During the low-risk procedure, doctors usually inject epinephrine mixed with lidocaine or Marcaine, drugs that reduce pain. The concentration of epinephrine in such mixtures is 1:100,000 or 1:200,000.

Almasy asked for 20 milliliters of epinephrine to inject into Johnston.

Nurse Brenda MacKinnon asked if he wanted "just epinephrine," according to her deposition. She said she also asked if he wanted 1:1,000.

According to her, he said, "Yes. I use this in the clinic for all my cases in the clinic."

Almasy said he didn't recall MacKinnon specifying 1:1,000.

Education vs. accountability

After Almasy injected the epinephrine, Johnston had a toxic reaction. She was taken to UW Hospital in Madison but could not be revived.

The state Board of Nursing didn't discipline MacKinnon after an investigation found insufficient evidence of wrongdoing.

A lawsuit against Almasy led to an $885,000 settlement last year for Barnes and her three siblings, now ages 14, 9 and 3. The four children have three fathers, and with Johnston gone, "now we're all separated," Barnes said.

Musser, the former medical board chairman, said medical errors — especially system errors like Almasy's appeared to be — call for re-education, not harsh discipline.

Almasy had no other complaints in Wisconsin.

What happened to Johnston is "horrible," Musser said but the board looks at whether doctors endanger patients and have problematic track records, not at the severity of the outcome of a mistake, he said.

"We could all be revoked if you revoked for error," Musser said. "None of us work error free."

Madison attorney Keith Clifford, who filed the suit against Almasy, said it "shocks the conscience" that the medical board issued its least serious discipline for the most serious harm.

"It's just woefully inadequate," he said. "The health care system is almost rendered unaccountable."

— David Wahlberg wrote this series while participating in the California Endowment Health Journalism Fellowships, a program of USC's Annenberg School for Communication and Journalism.

— Data reporter Nick Heynen contributed to this report.

Copyright 2015 madison.com. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

(27) Comments

  1. judgedandignoredbydrs
    Report Abuse
    judgedandignoredbydrs - March 11, 2015 11:42 pm
    I went to see Dr, kristin miller obgyn at mercy clinic north in janesville wi. i told her i was in pain and wanted to do two things. get surgery to end the pain long term, and to get pain management short term untill the surgery.
    she perscribed me pain killers (without asking me at all what i felt i needed or had been on in the past) and she schedualed an apt for the surgery.
    i called two days after filling my perscription for pain killers and talked to her nurse. i told her nurse that i wanted a call back from dr miller to discuss the dosages and that i would prefer to be on a different kin because the kind she perscribed me was not the best based on past perscriptions as well the dosages she gave me were not ideal.
    afrer that call i never get a call back. when i finally got a hold of her nurse again i was told that she will no longer perscribe me pain killers because she is worried because i went through my last perscription in a day in a half, i told her that is not at all what happend nor did i say or that i had run out in any way shape or form. since then i can not get any mercy drs to percribe me any pain killers for my pain but they are telling me now that the pain is in my head and i should she phychiatry for my pain managment. my pain comes from adenumyosis btw with was seen and diagnosed from an aultrasound. the technition found it and the dr saw it. yet they tell me its in my head. two diff mercy drs gave me pain killers for this before the miscommunicatio, after the sAME ones tell me that they dont treat this kind of pain with them AND THat its in my head. they have put me through pain and humiliation and essentially are refusing me any care or treatment. they wont even respond to my phone calls or any requests for help. all because dr kristin millers nurse did not listen to me when i spoke to her over the phone on day.
  2. tazjr60275
    Report Abuse
    tazjr60275 - February 01, 2013 10:37 pm
    Just to add when Dr. Bormes aka THE HACK had been cutting for so long that I felt pressure in the vas which quickly became pain, I screamed for him to STOP he still keep going saying "hold on I think I got it" ...GOT WHAT, what do you need to get that you haven't gotten in over an HOUR ! Beth(nurse) says"DOCTOR !!!" so he then he stops !!!!
  3. tazjr60275
    Report Abuse
    tazjr60275 - February 01, 2013 10:27 pm
    .Dr. Bormes....Started my vasectomy fine right side 10-15 minutes ( I was reading a Gold Digest mag to try and take my mind off things)....so I relaxed said"hey I'm going to close my eyes ,I don't see why guys are so freaked out about this surgery, wake me when your done ! " He,Beth(nurse) and I had a good laugh...so I closed my eyes then I decided to ask him something ONLY to see him roll his eyes in his head and smile after telling Beth to go get him something( Biggest"It" just kicked in face EVER) I closed my eyes and thought what tha heck was THAT I JUST SAW ! Before I could even think, he said"OK lets go" and took a scalpel to my left side NO LOCAL ANESTHETIC ...I almost jumped of the table "HEY I CAN FEEL THAT !!!!"," Oh sorry" he says,then he lost his mind he was cutting on me for over an HOUR !!!!!! My left testicle went up toward my stomach and stayed there for a week !!!! (Went to Aurora health care only to be kicked out after they said the testicle was STILL healthy and that they did not want to be legally responsible to go back to him to fix it ) I even asked his boss if another doctor could treat me "No. he has to fix this "...So,he then did a another surgery to bring it down(pexing), cut the blood supply to it thus killing it(LOST OF PAIN) ! I had to have 3rd surgery to remove dying testicle. He cut into my penis leaving me with a lump of scar tissue at the base ,sex hurts ,I can't sit for more than an hour,can't walk for long periods of time , DON"T EVEN TALK ABOUT RUNNING, can't lift anything (all end up putting me in pain)!!!!!! So I can't work to take care of my 2 children and my wife !!! This was almost 3 years ago and he still hasn't been disciplined we will see what happens after court in August
  4. Drnono
    Report Abuse
    Drnono - January 28, 2013 8:46 am
    Sure thing, Bones55, ""people are people" except when they kill people from gross negligence. Then they are criminals, guilty of manslaughter, plain and simple.
  5. Drnono
    Report Abuse
    Drnono - January 28, 2013 8:42 am
    " Dr." David Almasy is such a shameful excuse for a doctor.

    Apologist Dr. Gene Musser (Wisconsin Medical Examining Board), said in reference to the manslaughter of Nicole Johnston;
    "The process a physician goes through to be reprimanded really wakes them up," Musser said. "It is a gigantic event."
    Right Musser, too bad the woman he killed can't wake up to her children.

    "Every doctor will allow a colleague to decimate a whole countryside sooner than violate the bond of professional etiquette by giving him away." --George Bernard Shaw
  6. Barb10242
    Report Abuse
    Barb10242 - January 27, 2013 11:11 pm
    I'm glad you're not letting this incident go. They need to know how they affected your life!
  7. S Austin Texas
    Report Abuse
    S Austin Texas - January 27, 2013 4:30 pm
    I am pursuing Dean Clinic West, as we speak, after traveling to Wisconsin from Austin, TX to help my mother who had a stroke. The treatment I received was so inadequate that I had to have an life-threatening emergency gallbladder surgery at St. Mary's Hospital immediately...we were advised by physicians that my gallbladder was so inflammed, detiorated and enlarged 3x the size, not to travel back to Texas for fear it may burst. I was diagnosed with Indigestion and told to take Zantac, and they gave me a shot of morphine and sent me on my way. I saw the dr. for less than 5 minutes. I even called back to say I still had the excruciating pain (10) and suffered another additional 5 days before deciding to go to ER. I was given a pregnancy test, never even asked, I'm 52 and had hysterectomy 4 years earlier. Doctors have to have some kind of accountability, I entrusted them with my life. I'm happy to see this article in the paper at this time. :)
  8. milton's fried man
    Report Abuse
    milton's fried man - January 27, 2013 3:05 pm
    Actually not true. I've seen doctors get bouncedl for cause, and not because there was a law suit or a sentinel event but because they simply weren't good or talented people. believe me it was because the other doctors working with them or supervising them saw the truth of the situation. sometimes the way they leave is direct severing of ties but more often its a case of being "strongly encouraged" to find a new job else ware
  9. milton's fried man
    Report Abuse
    milton's fried man - January 27, 2013 2:56 pm
    That Charles...he's utterly mad!

    actually if you've ever pumped a quarter-half million dollars in drugs and blood products into what was obviously a corpse in all but name because no one could legally say STOP...you'd almost wish for some sort of death panel.
  10. mvanessa
    Report Abuse
    mvanessa - January 27, 2013 2:55 pm
    I am unable to access the website to check doctors. Wondering how to fix it
  11. milton's fried man
    Report Abuse
    milton's fried man - January 27, 2013 2:45 pm
    In the final analysis Medicine, an attempt to delay the inevitable. It's fraught with peril because no matter what, the inevitable lurks nearby. Just something health consumers need to remember.
  12. milton's fried man
    Report Abuse
    milton's fried man - January 27, 2013 2:40 pm
    When you speak of docs not giving a rat's ass what you are generally talking about are surgeons...

    In many cases it takes a sociopath to have the guts to cut someone open in high risk situations....sadly patient care takes place both in the OR and in the unit post op which is where in my own experience, the most harm is done....harm the patient and their family will never be aware of.
  13. perkred
    Report Abuse
    perkred - January 27, 2013 12:37 pm
    I think most of us realize the time, effort, dedication it takes to become a Doctor - but this is't about making it as a Doctor! This about the gang mindset that Doctors have as a unit. They refuse to point out bad Doctors and protect them to the death, no matter what!! Its NO difference then a well organized steet gang. Protect eachother at all costs. Cause if one of us is found out we all may be held to a high standard and if we make the same mistake, we may have to be held accoutable - and we can't have that can we???
  14. Shake
    Report Abuse
    Shake - January 27, 2013 12:25 pm
    Your proof of that assertion?
  15. submission ruins27tFR
    Report Abuse
    submission ruins27tFR - January 27, 2013 9:53 am
    I most certainly respect your comment, and yet as a nurse the "behind the scenes" narrative is quite different......There ARE docs who give a rats ass about "do no harm". I have seen them be negligent, egotistical, blow off nurses patient advocacy, only to then see a patient "CRUMP". The public should NOT be led to think the physicians are all above board and altruistic......The realty is that doctors, lawyers, etc.... CAN be smucks just like anyone else. It is extremely naive and dangerous to believe or profees that MD=VALIDITY!!!
  16. Bones55
    Report Abuse
    Bones55 - January 27, 2013 9:51 am
    No one truly wins in situations like this. These are not malicious attacks by physicians. These are honest mistakes. The fact that the physicians are allowed to continue practicing is not a victory, rather it's a means for them to overcome the potentially overwhelming guilt and shame they have endured. As the multimillion dollar lawsuit clearly illustrate, no one is "getting away" with anything.

    Would it be fair to ruin these physician's lives? Think about it in a broader sense: If physicians face the possibility of financial ruin or prison time for honest mistakes, who is going to go into medicine? How much are you going to have to pay them to make that risk an acceptable one? In this day and age, where rising insurance premiums, massive numbers of uninsured or underinsured people, and poor access to healthcare are very real issues on both the local and national level, disincentivising medical careers is fueling the problem, not creating any real solution.

    Physicians are both highly intelligent and highly educated. They are not people who had no other option but to become a physician. As you drive them away from medicine, you erode the quality of care for society as a whole. As the quality of the physician declines, the likelihood of events like the ones mentioned in the article above increases.

    Physicians do a job analogous to an auto mechanic who works on cars while they're still running. Mistakes will be made. As a society, that something that needs to be understood and accepted. Rather than holding them to an impossible standard, we should appreciate that these men and women are dedicating their lives to helping the rest of us. Think of all of the lives they have saved. Then think about what life would be like without them.
  17. Yyf926
    Report Abuse
    Yyf926 - January 27, 2013 9:37 am
    Doctors make a substantial personal investment of time, energy and money to become physicians. Before practically any procedure they are trained to explain the risks and benefits of it-- including death. Their guidepost is "first, do no harm." It might be easy to wish to cast off doctors who make mistakes but that's an impossible standard; we all make mistakes. Hindsight is 20/20 and many times reflection isn't an option in the moment. What is possible is ongoing training, pre-surgery huddles, accurate counting of tools and sponges used to avoid inadvertently leaving items inside patients, post surgery review and promoting an operating room culture that allows team members to speak up when something feels amiss, such as dosing size. That seems to be the trend as medicine becomes more accountable and the ethos of the doctor as a god culture fades.

    Throwing away ten years of intensive, generally tax-supported education, is expensive. Should doctors who operate outside the norm be placed under heavier supervision? Absolutely. Should bad doctors who act recklessly lose or have restrictions placed on their licenses? Absolutely. But we should be careful of ending careers when mistakes occur and look to correcting the systems that led to them before we decide to cast them off.
  18. submission ruins27tFR
    Report Abuse
    submission ruins27tFR - January 27, 2013 8:55 am
    While I agree with much of what Bones55 and some of what Liveforward said, the truth remains...those with more power, authority and money win...Sadly that is the state of our society. For instance the St.Marys nurse who accidentally gave epidural meds through a peripheral IV, had worked nearly 24hours in a 36 hour period. Why?, because hospital supervisors/administration let her.....her doubling up of shifts was cheaper than hiring enough nurses to fill staffing holes. St. Marys made her the scapegoat and got away with it. The example in the article also reveals the MD mentioned as trying to blame the nurse versus personal accountability. The "moral" of the story is REALLY that power, status, and authority rule/win/and get away with it! So yes, humans make mistakes....the difference? For some culpability is limited by factors with very little merit!!!
  19. LiveForward
    Report Abuse
    LiveForward - January 27, 2013 8:29 am
    Physicians have a very difficult job to perform. They make life and death decisions on a daily basis. It's up to their leadership, those brave administrators who created the enviroment in which our communities doctors must practice medicine. If the leaders of the hospital are not doing their job to protect the safety of the patients bad things can happen. According to this article:

    The State Journal's review of all 218 cases leading to medical board discipline in 2010 to 2012 found that two UW doctors and at least eight Dean doctors were disciplined for regular types of incidents.

    I also recall an incident where a young women lost her life while giving birth at St Mary's Hospital because a nurse there was not paying attention to what she was doing. Chose wisely where you have your care performed. It may be the last decision you make.

    Live Forward
  20. tomtom33
    Report Abuse
    tomtom33 - January 27, 2013 4:06 am
    As Dan Rottier knows full well, there is also recourse to the court system. While I know nothing about medical regulation, I have served on committees for what was Regulation and Licensing for over 10 years. The committees I served on did not give anyone in our industry a pass. It was a point of pride to insure that we were as clean as possible.
  21. River
    Report Abuse
    River - January 27, 2013 12:35 am
    The medical boards are owned by the death party. Republicans.
  22. MadCharles
    Report Abuse
    MadCharles - January 26, 2013 9:36 pm
    The medical boards are owned by the democrat party. You got what you vote for. Enjoy your death panels.
  23. Bones55
    Report Abuse
    Bones55 - January 26, 2013 6:40 pm
    The article indirectly highlights a major problem in America today: People forget that other people are just that...people. Physicians, despite years of dedicated training, are going to make mistake, egregious ones at that. The reason why: they are humans just like everyone else.

    Physicians are highly educated, highly compensated, and deal in life and death on a regular basis. It is natural to want them to be right 100% of the time, especially when dealing with yourself or your loved ones. Unfortunately, 100% is not a realistic expectation. Beyond the fact that they are human, and therefore prone to error, it should be appreciated that medicine is a field that doesn't always deal in the black and white but rather operates in the grey. Medical decisions are made based on clinical judgements that will be influenced by individual patient characteristics, the physician's training, hospital capabilities, constantly evolving medical literature, and a myriad of other things. In short, no two patients and, therefore, no two decisions are the same. This makes the job of the physician incredibly challenging.

    This article highlights major mistakes made by individual physicians but neglects the literally thousands of other people each of these physicians has helped. Undeniably, each of the physicians singled out in this paper has changed hundreds, if not thousands of lives in a genuinely positive way. They have cured patients of cancer, delivered babies, and prevented heart disease. However, the article, which in many ways likely represents the sentiment of society as a whole, would rather define each of these physicians by their mistakes.

    At the core of this article is the belief, or at least the hint, that physicians should have their lives destroyed as punishment for their mistake. The "eye for an eye" approach, which is not-so-subtly brought up in the later paragraphs seems both archaic and merciless. Whether you believe in God, Allah, karma, or nothing at all, destroying an honest human's livelihood for trying to perform their job to the best of their abilities but failing is not acceptable, especially when they have brought immeasurable good to society.

    Beyond the civility of attacking physicians who make mistakes, raising the stakes for our healthcare providers, who already face the ever-present possibility of a lawsuit, is a poor decision; one that will certainly drive able-minded students away from careers in medicine and further, drive the cost of healthcare from existing physicians up further. Given the drastic shortage of physicians that Wisconsin is projected to have over the next 20 years, eliminating obstacles to healthcare, rather than building them is essential to the wellbeing of ourselves and our loved ones.

    This is not to say that physicians should be immune from punishment. Certainly, there are instances where punishment is necessary. The point, however, is that asking for stricter punishment for mistakes on top of the very real shame the physician will feel and the very large lawsuits they will be facing is both shortsighted and merciless. Physicians are humans just like everyone else. Despite their best effort, they will make mistakes just like everyone else.

    Next time you see your physician, ask them about their kids, their dog, or maybe about the Badgers. You would be surprised just how much like the rest of us they are.
  24. Steebles
    Report Abuse
    Steebles - January 26, 2013 6:18 pm
    Hey witness, how about you stop seeing doctors altogether and see how that treats you.
  25. midwestguy
    Report Abuse
    midwestguy - January 26, 2013 6:12 pm
    May as well throw in the police...
  26. Report Abuse
    - January 26, 2013 4:53 pm
    It's the same way for Lawyers. They protect their own at our expense.
  27. witness
    Report Abuse
    witness - January 26, 2013 4:29 pm
    Wisconsin is such a social status state. Doctors are looked at like "kings'. OOO a doctor! Wow.This is so unlike other places we have lived in. So this article does not surprise me.

We provide a valuable forum for readers to exchange ideas and opinions on posted articles. But there are rules: Don't promote products or services, impersonate other site users, register multiple accounts, threaten or harass others, post vulgar, abusive, obscene or sexually oriented language. Don't post content that defames or degrades anyone. Don't repost copyrighted material; link to it. In other words, stick to the topic and play nice. Report abuses by clicking the button. Users who break the rules will be banned from commenting. We no longer issue warnings.

Add Comment
You must Login to comment.

Click here to get an account it's free and quick

What's hot

Featured businesses

Get weekly ads via e-mail
You might also like