Respectful Insolence

Well, well, well, well.

I should have know that sooner or later a certain group would weigh in on the trial of Anne Mitchell, RN, whose malicious prosecution is a result of a doctor who peddles woo using his connection with Boss Hogg Winkler County Sheriff Robert L. Roberts to find out who had complained against him and prosecute her criminally, trying to throw her in jail for up to ten years for doing her duty and reporting this doctor’s questionable activities. Before I reveal what crank group has weighed in, given that its identity will not come as much, if any, of a surprise, let’s just say that I’ve been a bit surprised by the reaction to some of my posts on Facebook. Suffice it to say that there has been some pushback from a couple of doctors who decided to use my criticism of this case as an excuse to start ranting about nurses supposedly reporting doctors for frivolous reasons. I realize that sham peer review can be a problem, but the bile thrown out at the nurses and the seeming solidarity with a woo-meister like Dr. Arafiles actually shocked me. One even started engaging in anti-science-based medicine rants, claiming that it’s a tool to control doctors and even likening it to Holocaust denial. I kid you not.

In any case, not surprisingly, that crank organization of medical crank organizations, the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) has weighed in on the side of Dr. Arafiles in a fascinating exercise in crankitude called Is There Accountability for Malice?

The stupid, it burns.

Check it out:

It has been open season for false allegations against physicians for too long. Each year too many physicians are distracted or even destroyed by malicious claims about them, whether in malpractice cases, sham peer review by hospitals or health plans, or witch-hunts by medical boards.

Is nurse Anne Mitchell guilty of acting in bad faith? The jury will decide.

Note the juxtaposition of complaints against false allegations against physicians with the disingenuous statement that “the jury will decide.” While that’s literally true (the jury will decide), it’s very clear where the AAPS stands on this issue, and it’s not with the whistleblowers:

The blogosphere is filled with rants against the doctor, Rolando G. Arafiles, Jr., M.D.; the prosecutor; and West Texas itself. The doctor has dark skin, a foreign accent, and some unconventional ideas. But his ideas and his practice are not on trial. The question before the court is whether the nurse, not the doctor, acted wrongfully.

This is an example of some spectacularly Orwellian misdirection. First off, the attacks in the blogosphere are against more than just Dr. Arafiles. They’re against the Winkler County Sheriff who went to great lengths to hunt down the two whistle blowing nurses. It’s about an idiot of a prosecutor who decided to prosecute them. It’s about payback against the nurse. In fact, it’s about exactly the opposite of what AAPS thinks it’s about. (Big surprise there.) Black is white and up is down in the delusional world of the AAPS. Yes, the nurse is on trial, but the important point is that the reason the nurse is on trial is because of the doctor and his relationship with the County Sheriff. Indeed, testimony shows that Dr. Arafiles and the Sheriff were not just friends who played golf together but that they were in business together hawking supplements:

During his cross-examination, Dr. Arafiles discussed the nutritional supplement called “Zrii” that he recommended to patients. The doctor admitted that Sheriff Roberts sold Zrii and even held meetings at the local Pizza Hut to recruit others to sell the product. According to the defense, the main ingredient in Zrii is white grape juice and it sells for around $40 a bottle.

Nurse Anne Mitchell mentioned the sale of non-approved/sanctioned supplements in her original complaint to the TMB.

It’s also spectacularly hypocritical of the AAPS to cry racism over this issue because Dr. Arafiles is Filipino when it has a history of some truly despicable and racist anti-immigrant rhetoric.

As for Dr. Arafiles “unconventional ideas,” well, it’s far more than just that, as I documented yesterday. Indeed, Mike Dunford documented more of Dr. Arafiles’ love of woo, including intravenous hydrogen peroxide and that quackery of quackeries homeopathy.

Yet, what does the AAPS conclude? This:

The broader question is whether doctors or other Americans can be disparaged, subjected at a minimum to tens of thousands of dollars in defense costs, and even deprived of their livelihood, on the basis of false, bad-faith allegations–while the complainant hides behind anonymity, immunity, and a presumption that she is only trying to protect the public.

“Accountability for false complaints is long overdue,” said Jane Orient, M.D., Executive Director of the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS).

Truly, up is down and down is up. Leave it to the AAPS to come to exactly the wrong conclusion. Of course, this shouldn’t come as a surprise. As I documented before, the AAPS seems to believe that doctors are super men and super women, that they can do no wrong, that they should be given in essence complete freedom to do as they will.

That, of course, is the problem. No one should be immune from accountability, not even doctors. Not even Dr. Arafiles. Sadly, apparently a fair number of doctors don’t agree. Just look at the comments after the AAPS post if you don’t believe me.

Comments

  1. #1 Militant Agnostic
    February 11, 2010

    It’s also spectacularly hypocritical of the AAPS to cry racism over this issue because Dr. Arafiles is Philippino when it has a history of some truly despicable and racist anti-immigrant rhetoric.

    But, but some of their best friends are brown people.

    Given that the AAPS has defended child abusers (denying shaken baby syndrome and calling it “Vaccine Injury”), it is not surprising they would defend a scammer like Arafiles.

  2. #2 ing
    February 11, 2010

    No one should be immune from accountability, not even doctors.

    Especially not doctors. It’s one thing for some random quack to spout nonsense. But if you hold someone else’s life in your hands as (potentially) part of your job, then you should expect to be held to a higher standard.

  3. #3 Paul Browne
    February 11, 2010

    The AAPS has got away with a lot of very dubious claims and quite despicable hate-mongering for far too long, one can only hope that this case makes more in the medical profession aware of just how dangerous they are.

  4. #4 Deen
    February 11, 2010

    During his cross-examination, Dr. Arafiles discussed the nutritional supplement called “Zrii” that he recommended to patients. The doctor admitted that Sheriff Roberts sold Zrii and even held meetings at the local Pizza Hut to recruit others to sell the product. According to the defense, the main ingredient in Zrii is white grape juice and it sells for around $40 a bottle.

    Wow, didn’t know that yet. It just keeps getting better and better, doesn’t it?

  5. #5 mekei
    February 11, 2010

    C’mon down to the Pizza Hunt for your CAM!! I got a little chuckle out of that.

  6. #6 Paula Gardner
    February 11, 2010

    Just started following this case. Thanks for bringing to light the position of AAPS as your site is the first I’ve seen of this. This story just keeps getting more and more surreal.

  7. #7 Pablo
    February 11, 2010

    Each year too many physicians are distracted or even destroyed by malicious claims about them, whether in malpractice cases, sham peer review by hospitals or health plans, or witch-hunts by medical boards.

    It’s a conspiracy, darn it! Hospitals, insurance companies, and even medical boards are in on it!!!!!! They are all out to get doctors…

  8. #8 Bob
    February 11, 2010

    Arafiles is making The Simpsons’ Dr. Nick look like Albert Schweitzer.

  9. #9 Dr. Mary Johnson
    February 11, 2010

    Well, actually, Pablo, “sham peer review” is a huge problem in this country that has been largely ignored.

    But prosecuting a nurse for reporting a doctor is NOT the way to deal with it.

    Alas, there are a number of doctors out there who are now wrapping themselves in the mantle of “whistle-blower” without really having the credentials in that department. Once such example for your insolent consideration is here:

    http://drjshousecalls.blogspot.com/2010/02/congressman-brad-miller-and-dr-wacko.html

    It’s also a great deflection screen for bad doctors.

    And it gives a bad name to those of us who have been burned for doing exactly what this nurse did.

  10. #10 ababa
    February 11, 2010

    But, but some of their best friends are brown people.

    I have to laugh, because I have seen this argument used by obvious racists in the past as “proof” of not being racist.

    On a forum I frequent I saw a woman justifying that she wasn’t racist by telling people that children just happen to notice things and don’t learn it from their parents. On the playground her child came up to her after playing with some other children and proclaimed: “Mommy, those brown kids smell bad.”. Her children are already negatively classifying others by the color of their skin. Where the hell does she think that comes from?

    With mixed race marriage becoming more and more common, soon it is going to be too hard for people to figure out heritage based on skin color. Racism will end when it becomes too complicated for stupid people to do it.

  11. #11 Ed Whitney
    February 11, 2010

    AAPS news reporting tends to be selective. They have had many items linking vaccines and autism over the years. Last week the Lancet formally retracted the Wakefield article linking MMR and autism. Let us see how AAPS handles this one. They have been pretty sympathetic to Wakefield in the past.

  12. #12 Kristen
    February 11, 2010

    @ababa

    What you say is so true. My adopted daughter is African American and my younger children don’t seem to notice. I think it is definitely the parents who indoctrinate the children. I grew up in with an abusive, racist father and I have had to fight those ingrained racist ideas in the past.

    I loved your comment:

    Racism will end when it becomes too complicated for stupid people to do it.

    Indeed.

  13. #13 Ben
    February 11, 2010

    This case seems to have more to do with small town corruption than CAM or doctor autonomy.

  14. #14 Alareth
    February 11, 2010

    Racism will end when it becomes too complicated for stupid people to do it.

    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    Racism won’t end, the idiots will just begin the witch hunts to purge those that aren’t “pure”. The rhetoric will be the same as the bigots today that label people they don’t like as “secret jews” and other such BS.

  15. #15 Denice Walter
    February 11, 2010

    OT:(I know,I know,we’re supposed to be on a NaturalNews-free diet this week, but….) Mikey reports about mumps in Ocean County,NJ, today-since he provides *no link* for his statements,google provides: several stories about outbreaks among kids in Orthodox Jewish commmunites,in this case, Lakewood.(FYI: Metro NY has quite a few Orthodox communities in NYC,suburban & “resort” NY state,NJ shore,and a few smaller, less insular ones in NE NJ)I think he leaves a *few* things out and mangles a few other things.

  16. #16 Todd W.
    February 11, 2010

    @Denice Walter

    Is that at all related to the Brooklyn measles outbreak?

  17. #17 Denice Walter
    February 11, 2010

    @ Todd W.:Maybe in an over-arching sense:July’s(’09)measles in Brooklyn involved Williamsburg(hipster/Orthodox)and Borough Park(Orthodox)-I vaguely remember something about the Orthodox kids attending summer camp(probably upstate NY).Lakewood involved a boys school,including some NY and English kids.

  18. #18 Vicki
    February 11, 2010

    Ababa–

    Alas, stupid people will always find ways to be racist–they’ll go by looks and not care if they’re getting it wrong, they’ll go back to teaching the “one-drop rule,” or they’ll go by names. (We know that a resume with a black-sounding name is seen less favorably than the same resume with a white-sounding name. And of course there is no genetic component to naming, and a lot of those “black-sounding” names belong to people whose grandfathers were named things like Adam and George. But if racists were smart enough to care about that, they’d be smart enough not to be racist.

    Getting it wrong: one of my closest friends is from Ireland. He tells me that anyone in Ireland would take one look at me and be sure I’m Protestant. There are no known Christians in my family tree, and given where my ancestors were living, Catholic and Eastern Orthodox are more likely.

  19. #19 ababa
    February 11, 2010

    Never underestimate the power of stupid people in large groups.

    Alareth, this is true, but there is a key to this. The number of “pure” people will dwindle with each coming generation and growing acceptance of multi-racial families. It gets harder and harder to maintain and eventually the “pure blood” bigots will be ridiculously outnumbered. Eventually they will be bred out of existence. Evolution benefits from diversity – maybe that’s why stupid people hate it so much.

    That’s not to say that people won’t find new ways to exclude others in order to elevate themselves, but when you enroll your children for school these days the selection for “race” is no longer a predominantly single select option.

  20. #20 Anthro
    February 11, 2010

    @Ababa

    I hope you are right, but in anthropology, the evidence indicates that most cultures discriminate by variation in skin tone, favoring the lightest skin tones, even in small homogenous populations. I do see signs of change with the younger generation and noone would be happier than me to see this principle go the way of extinction.

  21. #21 James Sweet
    February 11, 2010

    @Anthro: That’s an interesting idea… perhaps, like what happened in Rwanda, future racism won’t even have anything to do with ethnic ancestry per se, just individual skin color.

    That’s a depressing thought…

  22. #22 Otto
    February 11, 2010

    “Dr. Arafiles discussed the nutritional supplement called ‘Zrii’ that he recommended to patients. The doctor admitted that Sheriff Roberts sold Zrii and even held meetings at the local Pizza Hut to recruit others to sell the product.”

    This is the funniest thing I’ve heard in weeks. Fortunately, it’s not too late to get in on the ground floor: http://www.zrii.com

  23. #23 Ed Whitney
    February 11, 2010

    The jury has decided.
    http://www.kvia.com/Global/story.asp?S=11970880
    Eat this, AAPS.

  24. #24 LW
    February 11, 2010

    Thank you, Ed! I’ve been waiting for that news all day!

  25. #25 deenaclaire
    February 11, 2010

    The current mumps flare-up started with a kid who came from England and went to camp in Sullivan County, New York, and infected kids with mumps at the camp. Then it spread to Monsey, NY (Rockland County), where 300 cases have been reported, and Ocean County, NJ. Just the other day, the Orthodox Jewish areas in Brooklyn have reported up to 800 cases of mumps. All of these outbreaks have involved the ultra-Orthodox and Hasidic populations of these areas.

    Unfortunately, this has promoted some nasty anti-Semitic remarks (published under the commentary in the online Rockland section of LoHud, the local newspaper. It sure is bringing the nutcases out of the woods.

    Some estimates of this population’s vaccination history shows that about 65% to 70% of this population has had their mumps (MMR) vaccinations timely.

  26. #26 FreeSpeaker
    February 11, 2010

    Acquitted!

    http://www.nytimes.com/2010/02/12/us/12nurses.html

    less than one hour…Texans are smart…

    But Mrs. Mitchell’s lawyers presented broad evidence that her concerns about the doctor were well-founded, and that she violated no laws or regulations by alerting the governmental body that licenses and regulates physicians.

    The two women have filed a civil lawsuit in federal court against the county, the hospital, the doctor and various officials, charging that their firing and indictment violated their First Amendment rights, as well as their right to due process.

    “We are glad that this phase of this ordeal has ended and that Anne has been restored to her liberty,” said Mrs. Mitchell’s lawyer, John H. Cook IV. “But there was great damage done in this case, and this does not make them whole.”

  27. #27 nomuse
    February 11, 2010

    Not to get sidetracked, but… intravenous hydrogen peroxide?! What’s next, carbon monoxide bars? No, really; I want to hear more about that particular woo some day.

  28. #28 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 11, 2010

    Her children are already negatively classifying others by the color of their skin. Where the hell does she think that comes from?

    Not necessarily the parent. IOur evolutionary history has wired us to look for differences, and there are a number of factors from both nature and nurture contributing.

    We can even blame Sesame Street…

    “…one of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong….”

    If we were all the exact same colour humans would still find something to discriminate against (black hair, blue eyes, short, tall, etc).

  29. #29 Alan Kellogg
    February 11, 2010

    This case is one reason why I support the criminalization of medical malpractice. Criminal fines and incarceration have a greater impact than civil penalties alone.

  30. #30 Vicki
    February 12, 2010

    About the mumps outbreak: The NY Times quotes an assistant health commissioner as calling this a well-vaccinated population. Nonetheless, the city is making efforts to (re)vaccinate anyone in that Orthodox community who isn’t sure they were vaccinated, or is just worried.

    Unfortunate, yes, but if there’s anti-vax crankery involved, it’s before the virus got into this population.

  31. #31 tl
    February 12, 2010

    We can even blame Sesame Street…

    “…one of these things is not like the others; one of these things just doesn’t belong….”

    Actually, they changed that one years ago, it’s now something along the lines of “Three of these things belong together . . .” to make it about similarities rather than differences.

    The things you learn when you have kids . . . “What’s sitting criss cross apple sauce? Oh, Indian style, gotcha!”

  32. #32 Chris
    February 15, 2010

    There is a comment over at PalMD’s WhiteCoatUnderground with a link to the Arafiles New York Misconduct case that shows his attorney was the AAPS legal counsel, Andrew Schlafly.

    It makes me think that Arafiles may be a member, and that the AAPS makes a habit of defending incompetent doctors (as part of their defense of “health freedom”).

  33. #33 Scientizzle
    February 15, 2010

    Schlafly! Ha! Hahahah!

    Conservapedia must have page on this docter then, eh?

  34. #34 john anon
    December 8, 2010

    Wyoming has a doctor named Sigsbee Duck associated with the Sweetwater Medical Group possibly violating his Hippocratic oath by refusing to treat patients with insurance

  35. Why will hospitals, doctors, and pharmaceutical companies do nearly as superb a job as they now do if their reimbursement from the government will be severely cut?

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