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.