In Hiding 

screens at Versailles

I have a habit of checking the State Medical Board discipline postings whenever they come out to see if anyone I know is on there. 

Typically there is no one. In fact, I can’t remember the last time I found someone that I knew.

This time, however, I found two.


The first I recognized as an old classmate of mine from medical school. He lost his license due to substance abuse… alcohol specifically. Several DUIs. A failed treatment program. I wondered when that issue started. In medical school he never seemed to be a partier. There were those but he did not run with that group. He was quiet. Studious. Funny. I liked him back then. What happened between then and now? All of those years of training and sacrifice. What is left of his life? His family?

The other was a man I had worked with as a partner for a number of years. He pled guilty to Medicare fraud. It startled me because he was heavily involved in his church all those years that I knew him. Not to say that religion makes you perfect. Hardly. Still, it shocked me. You think you know someone and WHAM! You find you don’t know or understand anything. Was it greed? Desperation? His wife was so nice. His kids. What is happening to them? 


We want to judge harshly….

I always remind myself that I am only one bad decision away from being on that or some other list myself. We all are. We like to believe that we are above that sort of thing, that there is something about us that is more perfect. We couldn’t possibly have a character flaw, a weakness that makes us vulnerable. And yet each of these people thought the same thing about themselves at some point. 

That doesn’t make what they did right and it doesn’t mean they shouldn’t be punished.

It just helps to remember that we are all human.


80 thoughts on “In Hiding 

  1. For your readers, I believe it’s important to point out that Medicare’s rules about patient billing are so convoluted that pretty much every doctor that bills Medicare is guilty of fraud (by their standards). For example, you must document everything you do with a patient, and you cannot bill anything you didn’t do/document. Okay, that sounds reasonable — except that you CAN get in trouble if you don’t bill for everything that you did, and you cannot “double-bill” if you do two things with a patient, And if you underbill (bill for a lessor charge), you are also guilty of fraud.

    The worst thing is, Medicare figures that if you consistantly bill one thing more than another, you’re not really paying attention to your billing rules and you are probably guilty of fraud. That might work for a GP, but what about a specialist such as a GYN or a Psychiatrist?

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  2. It’s always shocking when you learn that someone you know is charged with something. That always happens to strangers, right? A few years ago, I heard about a colleague, a young attorney who had gone off to start his own practice, who was arrested and convicted of embezzling client funds. He was using those funds to send his kids to private schools. He was the most likeable guy you’d ever want to meet. I knew he was not above cutting a few corners, but it never occurred to me he would actually do something criminal.

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  3. I used to do this with the Board of Behavioral Sciences. You would be amazed how many of my friends and colleagues lost their licenses in the 80′ due to sexual mis-conduct. I read the monthly journal and there I would find friends and colleagues defrocked. I may have seen them the week before and had no idea. It was shocking. The flow dropped down to a trickle by the 90’s when the message was finally received by all, thank goodness. Disgusting misuse of power.

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  4. Reblogged this on litmathtest and commented:
    This is only the second post I have reblogged.

    Quoted from the original blog: “I always remind myself that I am only one bad decision away from being on that or some other list myself.”

    This is a doctor’s prescription I want to take to heart.


  5. I’m having a really hard time recently with questions like “who am I?” and “who do others think I am?” Who cares? Who knows? All we know right now is what circumstances to date have shown us capable of. Who knows what tomorrow will bring? (Hopefully, better, but again … who knows?!)

    Liked by 1 person

  6. It’s sad to see people you look up to and think well of coming crashing down, no matter what’s the reason or who’s really to blame.

    On a positive note, I love that picture you used. It looks like the kind of place that demands to be walked through and photographed and admired on a regular basis. 😀

    Liked by 1 person

  7. A family member of mine made an error in judgment that can be viewed as minor or as serious, depending on how much information you have. He was crucified in the press, and for the rest of his life that is what folks will see and learn about him when they look him up. In reality what he did wasn’t really bad and in fact many people are guilty of it frequently.

    Have I confused you enough? Sorry. It’s not my story to tell, and there are still ongoing investigations and even possible criminal penalties.

    Oh, he’s not Donald Trump!

    Liked by 2 people

  8. It is indeed sobering when something like this happens. I know first hand as something similar happened to my oldest son. One minute he was a director with a wife, family and home, the next he had none of it. Worse will never get most of it back, ever. It showed me just how fast your world can be taken from you and the impact it has on not only the person it’s happening to but all those who love them and are powerless to do anything to change it. Thanks for sharing.

    Liked by 1 person

  9. I think this is the saddest thing you wrote; “I don’t accept any new Medicare partly for this reason. ” We will get to the point where the elderly will only be seen by the worse and most incompetent people because the government has made it so no one wants there patients. Believe me do, your not the only who feels this way. Scary as this is WILL be in my lifetime.

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  10. I love this post. I liked how you brought yourself into the story when you said “I always remind myself I’m only one bad decision away from being on that list or any other list”.

    I don’t know, but would bet being a doctor is not easy as far as dotting I’s and crossing t’s even in your personal life.

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  11. I do the same with nursing licenses. I sometimes wonder if issues with alcohol or narcotics are ineffective ways of coping with stress and burnout, and that makes me sad. We have a highly respected teaching hospital in our community…people at every level of heathcare seem to have problems, no one is immune.

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  12. Very true. Completely agree with you doc. In my field, stock analysis, its all is very common. In fact if you don’t have partner then its like you are living in stone age. Many times I found that both are heavy drinker. Sometimes drug addict also. Don’t know about your rules and laws but in India its its all taboo
    Good to see you are writing about such things also.

    Liked by 1 person

  13. In one sense it is good that the State Medical Board discipline postings are public; however, I have wondered if those same people are ever able to redeem themselves at some point. What if they are able to get their act together again? How hard is it to convince the board they are back on track?

    My family has had several experiences doctors who have been barred from practice. Our son-in-law is an MD in internal medicine. He was trying to help a fellow medical doctor who had been one of the best, but whose marriage failed. He first began drinking, then abused drugs. Of course, he was out of the medical field for good then. Eventually, he found himself sleeping under a bridge–a homeless man with no way to get back into real life. Pitiful soul.

    Then there was our youngest daughter’s orthodontist, a foul-mouthed man with such poor eyesight he could barely see to do his work. His high-school daughter was his main helper in fitting braces. After a few visits, our daughter expressed some concern that he might not know his business or might be so visually impaired that he could not do the right things. You see, I was the parent who was supposed to wait in the foyer and never be in the room during office visits. Up to that point, I never knew there was bad language, nor did I see how many pairs of glasses he donned when he worked. By the time I found out what was going on, it was too late; we were deep into the contract and braces were on. Our daughter married and was traveling in a foreign country when it came time to make adjustments to her hardware. Because of the unusual way the braces had been applied, the dentist who attended her looked up the name of her dentist on the Medical Board posting you speak of to see that her orthodontist had been barred from practice in one state and had simply moved to another state to begin all over again–re-evaluation review or anything!

    One more example if you have the patience to read… We have moved often so one serious issue we always have if finding a good doctor who will take new patients. Someone recommended a “new” doctor near my school and I followed that lead. I felt strange when he wrote several prescriptions that had to be filled *in his office* and not at a drug store. All of it was AMWAY products. Red FLAG! RED, RED FLAG! Let me not go into detail, but suffice to say, I found out he had been barred from practice in the next state over for selling AMWAY products as medicine.

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