White Coat Underground

I love writing about quackery and other medical shenanigans, but there are some activities and organizations that are so distasteful that I can rarely force myself to write about them. One of these is the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). This is an organization that has supported the lie that abortion leads to breast cancer, has defended child abuse by attempting to “debunk” shaken baby syndrome, or worse, blame it on vaccines, and fought for treating mental health as moral failing rather than a real illness. And that’s just a sampling.

So it should come as no surprise that the AAPS has taken a stand in the case of the Texas nurses who were harassed by law enforcement for reporting an allegedly bad doctor. Of course, they have not taken the side of truth and justice, but that of what they consider “the American way”. Worse, they have disingenuously tried to make this about the race of the physician, rather than about his questionable practices:

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.

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.

The writer is half right. The case in which nurse Anne Mitchell was acquitted was not about Dr. Rolando Arifiles and his questionable practices but whether Mitchell acted unlawfully in reporting them. She did not. In fact, she followed both the ethics of her profession and the law in reporting her concerns to the state agency charged with investigating such things. The state medical board issued several scathing letters to the local sheriff and prosecutor warning them of their errors.  It may be that the sheriff’s personal and business relationship with Dr. Arifiles blinded him to his own idiocy.  Or it may be that pseudo-libertarian wack-job organizations such as the AAPS help encourage this sort wackaloonery.  

Because the question here is not that of “harassment” of a doctor who was just going about his constitutionally-protected business of practicing bad medicine; it is about the subversion of the legal and law enforcement community to serve the personal needs and vendettas of a few powerful members of a community.  
The nurses who suffered at the hands of this cabal have filed a civil suit (linked above) against just about everyone involved.  Hopefully, they will receive some compensation for their suffering.  

Comments

  1. #1 Lee Tilson
    February 13, 2010

    So far as I can tell, this is the only organization, besides nursing associations, to take a position on the case. If anyone is aware of other organizations taking positions, I am looking for such information.

    The lack of support for these nurses outside of the nursing community is deeply disturbing.

    Thanks for your thoughtful posts. Well done.

    Lee Tilson

    http://www.rethinkingpatientsafety.com

  2. #2 DLC
    February 13, 2010

    I have one thing to say to JPANDS: “Would you gentlemen kindly reasearch the case of one Dr. Crippen? ”
    His case was not about his practice or his unusual ideas, either.

  3. #3 Daniel J. Andrews
    February 14, 2010

    PalMD–the link to several scathing letters goes to the AAPS, and not the letters. I did a quick search for the letters, but didn’t turn them up (I didn’t want to point that out and not be able to post a link, but i’m out of time so I’ll have to settle for notifying you. Sorry).

  4. #4 PalMD
    February 14, 2010

    fixed

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