HIGHTOWER: Questionable Docs

When a state hands out a license to practice medicine, it bestows an extraordinary power on that doctor, granting him or her the authority to see us naked, to cut us open, to inject chemicals into our bodies, and literally to affect whether we live or die.Now, what if this individual has proven unworthy of such trust, having sexually abused some patients, for example, or become a drug addict, or simply being incompetent? You'd want to know that, right? But mostly, we trusting patients are not informed about abusive, negligent, dangerous or shoddy doctors. Even those who are caught by the medical review boards generally get protected by the establishment, maybe getting a slap on the wrist, but allowed to keep their licenses and to keep practicing.A decade ago, Congress finally mandated that a data bank be created to store details about all those "bad docs" in America who have been officially sanctioned by authorities or successfully sued for malpractice. Problem is, Congress also mandated that this information be kept secret from us patients. So there are thousands of practicing doctors out there guilty of serious medical offenses, but their patients are not even informed about them, much less warned.This is why a new set of books by Public Citizens' Health Research Group is so valuable. Called 16,638 Questionable Doctors, it provides for us what the government and the profession are hiding: a state-by-state, case-by-case, name-by-name record of doctors in America who have been disciplined by medical authorities. It also includes information on what you can do to report a doctor.This is Jim Hightower saying . . . Check-out the docs in your own town. Regional listings are available for $23.50. Better yet, ask your library to order copies so others in your community can check this vital consumer resource. For ordering information, call Public Citizen: 202-588-1000.

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