Roger Goodell in Cahoots with the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine?

gddd

In a case which makes the unfair and ridiculous suspension of Tom Brady look like chump change, the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine has suspended a doctor eighteen months for having a bad interaction with a patient’s family!  This is no joke.  Ok, Roger Goodell is not involved but he may as well have been.  Here is the summary of the case per the local paper. I need to put the whole article in there because it will make your jaw drop:

 

The Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine last week placed Dr. Robert Weiss on probation for “at least 18 months” for unprofessional conduct. Weiss signed a consent agreement that outlined the terms of his probation, according to agency documents.

Weiss’ signature on the agreement doesn’t mean he admits to any misconduct alleged by the complainant, his attorney said Tuesday.

The board’s action stems from Weiss’ February 2014 encounter with the family of one of his patients who was hospitalized.

In her complaint to the board, that patient’s daughter wrote that when Weiss was asked by a family member what circumstances had led to the patient’s hospitalization in critical condition, Weiss replied: “You should just be lucky he is not brain dead like my patient next door who is half his age.”

His patient’s daughter characterized Weiss as “irritable, agitated and hostile” in response to questions asked about the medication Weiss had provided the patient and whether the woman’s father had an adverse reaction to it.

When asked questions by the family and the patient, Weiss reportedly said either: “This little question-and-answer session is done,” or “This is not a question-and-answer session. I’m done here.”

Weiss denied the actions described by his patient’s daughter in her complaint.

Weiss responded in an April 2014 letter that he had examined in his office the woman’s father who was experiencing “rapid atrial fibrillation.” Weiss offered to take the patient to the hospital to attempt to restore the patient’s heartbeat to normal.

The patient refused, Weiss wrote in his letter.

Weiss instead prescribed medicine aimed at slowing the patient’s heart rate. Apparently after his patient took that medication, he collapsed and was hospitalized.

When he learned what had happened, Weiss went to the hospital.

“He recalled telling the patient’s wife that the patient was fortunate that he was ‘coming around’ and that there was no sign that he was as bad off as they had initially worried about or as bad off as a patient in another room,” according to agency documents.

Weiss told the board that he recalled he used his “usual technique for answering questions, which was that he went around a room in a circle fielding questions from the family and that each time a question was answered, he went around again to see if there were additional questions.”

He wrote that his patient’s daughter was “somewhat verbally aggressive with him and that her first words to him were along the lines of him hurting or attempting to kill her father,” according to agency documents.

The patient’s daughter replied to Weiss’ response by suggesting that Weiss “was confusing the interactions with her family with that of another patient” and stated that she was “completely shocked” by his response in his letter to the agency.

She denied Weiss’ version of events.

Although the patient had no memory of events in the hospital, his wife reported that Weiss was “very unprofessional, extremely moody and acted like he did not have time for them.”

Weiss denied the characterizations of his patient’s wife. He apologized if his presentation was misinterpreted.

Notes from an independent reviewer for the board noted that the patient’s records for that February office visit didn’t reflect Weiss’ recommendation that his patient go to the hospital for treatment for rapid atrial fibrillation.

“I would have been reluctant to give the patient a prescription for (a beta blocker) and have him take that at home in an unmonitored situation given the fact that he was wheezing at the time of the examination and that his heart rate was as fast as it was with his known cardiac history,” according to agency documents.

Although a beta blocker “would have certainly been considered” given the patient’s refusal to go to the hospital for treatment of his rapid atrial fibrillation, “I would have wanted to make it very clear in the record that I explained to the patient the risks and benefits of administration of the drug,” the independent reviewer wrote.

A board investigator further reviewed the complaint, interviewing the patient’s wife’s sister, who had gone to the emergency room. She had asked Weiss: “Why did you send a symptomatic patient home?”

Weiss reportedly responded that he offered the patient a choice: “Go home and take a pill or go to the hospital and wait for me.”

A licensee is considered to have engaged in unprofessional behavior if the licensee “violates a standard of professional behavior, including engaging in disruptive behavior, that has been established for the practice of medicine. ‘Disruptive behavior’ means aberrant behavior that interferes with or is likely to interfere with the delivery of care.”

As part of the consent agreement, Weiss agreed to only practice medicine in connection with Maine Research Associates, and that his only outpatient involvement will be connected to his work with that group. He won’t see general cardiology patients otherwise, the agreement stipulates.

Weiss is director and CEO of Maine Research Associates in Auburn, which conducts research on medicines for cardiac care patients.

A so-called physician proctor will meet with Weiss and the manager of Maine Research Associates and perform a monthly review and evaluation of his practice and patient/staff interactions. That proctor will file quarterly reports with the state board.

Those reports should summarize the monthly reviews and evaluations and “identify any concerns or issues with professional interactions or conduct, including any allegations or reports of disruptive behavior.”

His medical license could be suspended or revoked if he fails to comply with the terms of the agreement, according to agency documents.

Weiss’ attorney, James Martemucci, said the matter was before the board for well over a year.

“Dr. Weiss was very confident and strong in his position that he did not do anything inappropriate, but he also acknowledged to the board several times that his words and actions could have been misinterpreted by the complainant,” Martemucci said.

“Understanding all of that, coupled with his desire to retire from full-time clinical practice and just do the research work and avoid a public hearing that could have been difficult for all concerned, including him, the complainant and both of their families, he decided to enter into a consent decree.”

Now, full disclosure.  I know Bob Weiss. He is a great doctor.  I worked in town with him for 15 years.  He is a curmudgeon, plain and simple.   He is the old man from the movie Up. I like him and always went out of my way to make him laugh or smile because it was a challenge but that is just his personality.  If you are rude to him he will certainly speak his mind and be rude back.   Let’s just say, however, that this case went down as the patient’s family says it did.  SO WHAT?!  Could it have gone better.  Yes.  Did the patient die?  No.  This not a malpractice case.  This is a behavior case.  The patient and family can just find another cardiologist.   On the flip side, how many doctors have been accosted by patients and nurses verbally and physically before? It happens every day.  This case shows the world that doctors can say nothing to defend themselves else they be suspended….for 18 months!

Brady can’t play for one month.  Dr. Weiss cannot see patients as a cardiologist for 18 months!  

This case has many teaching points.

  1. We are NEVER to get in a verbal fight with a patient or family.
  2. The power of these licensing boards is out of control and they need to be stopped!
  3. We have no one to protect us.  No one.  Where was the lawyer on this?  Where is the Maine Medical Association on this?  Where is the AMA on this?  How could anyone let this precedent stand?  I don’t like the idea of a physician union but the NFLPA would not let this crap stand.
  4. Shame on you, Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine. Shame on you for being the bully and throwing your weight around.

I feel like the website Barstool Sports, who defended Tom Brady more than anyone else, needs to help here.  We need some t-shirts and flags that say:

FREE WEISS!

Please comment on this because I want to know I am not going crazy here.

  14 comments for “Roger Goodell in Cahoots with the Maine Board of Licensure in Medicine?

  1. Jan
    July 28, 2016 at 8:02 pm

    I agree with you that Dr Weiss did not display unprofessional behavior when talking to family about the emergency department admission of a family member with rapid atrial fibrillation. Dr. Weiss had examined the man; he offered to drive the man to the the hospital emergency department, or have him take the beta blocker prescribed. The man took the drug; he had an adverse reaction and was admitted to the hospital emergency department Dr. Weiss answered family questions by stating the man was lucky to be alive and not in the same condition as another patient of his in the same hospital. The family members were not satisfied with his answers, and the man’s daughter responded by calling Dr Weiss unprofessional, moody and not willing to spend time with family.
    All that is unfortunate, but could be explained the the extreme stress the family was experiencing. Dr. Weiss, by his account, was confident that he did no wrong when conversing with family. The situation did not need to progress as far as it did. I believe a a competent medical negotiator could have defused the situation.

  2. Dr Dave
    July 23, 2016 at 3:10 pm

    Since when does talking to FAMILY members about a case come up to the level of the board stepping in?
    I “might’ understand it if the rude behavior was directed to the patient but we have NO responsibility to attend to the family in a find or professional manner. The quality of care was not infringed upon because the daughter was not a patient. If this type of nonsense is the future norm of healthcare then I am VERY glad I am un-officially retired.
    Of the nonsense I have seen in my decades and decades of dealing with various boards on my own behalf as well as on the behalf of clients what I can say is we get 100% of what we deserve. This fool is a perfect example of what I mean.
    So when given an opportunity to stand up and say “drop dead I am not wrong and won’t be intimidated by a board position” he caved and set the president for all the rest to have to follow.
    If the physician community had stepped up and funded his legal fees and supported him to fight this come hell or high water this wouldn’t be on the media blast and no other provider would have to worry about taking care of what we say to secondary persons about the case of a patient.
    The ONLY thing I can see wrong here is the admission of the extent of disease of the patient in the next bed but other then that this entire communication was a courtesy conversation and could have easily been relayed to a RN or for that matter a resident or fellow or associate.
    I know of lots of surgeons who would never speak to family after a surgery and the best they get is what the resident was willing to offer up.
    Shame on us for tolerating this and shame on us for not mandating a national board instead of these sham state boards that can pick legs off ants in their minutiae discussions expecting us to be God-like miracle workers rather then what we really are very overworked very underpaid public servants who always are accused of getting more then we are deserving of.
    Dr D

  3. William braswell
    July 23, 2016 at 1:55 pm

    I would sue the family for interference with a physician in the care of a patient, take it to trial and set myself on fire on the courthouse steps. (Maybe in a perfect world!)….Wait, that worked in Libya which started the Arab Spring uprisings. Does anyone feel the empathy here? On a happier note, you should see how bad this gets is in the military medical system.

  4. JRDO
    July 23, 2016 at 1:43 pm

    Doug,
    Agree with your comments about Dr. Weiss.
    Disagree with your comments about Tom Brady.
    Go Pack Go

    • Doug Farrago
      July 23, 2016 at 2:43 pm

      Look at the science. This is from the NY TIMES!!! New York hates the Pats but….http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/23/sports/football/nfl-ignores-ball-deflation-science-at-new-england-patriots-expense.html?_r=0

      You can’t suspend a guy for not handing his phone over to a criminal who leaks everything to the press. I like the Packers but Free Brady and Free Weiss!

      • Steve O'
        July 23, 2016 at 10:23 pm

        As a Pats fan since they were the Boston Patriots, I’m sad to admit that this is another person vs. monolithic corporation dispute. Just like thousands of corporate HR departments, somebody snitched on somebody, and there’s an opportunity to beat one of the employees. Brady is a very good player. I’m still bittersweet about his replacing Drew Bledsoe.
        Nevertheless, from far above fandom, it’s another person-versus-corporation slamdance. Everybody trusts the corporation nowadays.
        It’s not about whether you like Tom Brady, or the Pats, or believe the private “indictment.” It’s like every doctor whose gone against a board or a privileges committee. Go with the human being.

  5. Steve O'
    July 23, 2016 at 1:19 pm

    There was a case in a nearby state where a doctor’s license was terminated by the State’s medical board. This doctor was working in the prison system, and the male inmates alleged that he was giving rectal examinations “for fun.” The word of the inmates trumped that of the doctor, and he was canned, delicensed and sued for over $2M dollars.

    Moral of the story – don’t touch the patient!

    • Jan
      July 28, 2016 at 7:59 pm

      I agree that too much fuss was made by a patient’s family over the behavior of the man’s cardiologist. He arrived at the emergency department to follow up on the man, who was having rapid atrial fibrillation. The patient’s family wanted an explanation of why he was admitted. Dr. Weiss said he answered questions as he always had done. The daughter was convinced that his behavior was unprofessional, and that he was moody. She stated that he seemed reluctant to spend time answering their questions.
      Acute stress seems likely for the family. Dr. Weiss was behaving like he always did with family members.

  6. George Voigtlander
    July 23, 2016 at 1:01 pm

    Unfortunately, regulatory agencies are badgered into finding a scapegoat when a family or patient is persistent or unpleasant enough. A physician who is not Marcus Welby is an easy target. Although patients and families are allowed to misbehave, because they are “stressed”. Physicians, sleep deprived, overwhelmed by constantly changing, irrational regulations are expected to be saint like at all times. Boards should protect patients from impaired or incompetent physicians. No doc can be the mythical Dr Welby, all the time, sometimes a Dr House slips out. That hardly justifies ruining a physician!

  7. Pat
    July 23, 2016 at 10:53 am

    One of the (many) reasons I never advise anyone to go into this industry is that the physician is always presumed by the patient, family, and state to be in the wrong. Always. While the case may often be decided in favor of the doctor, it is only after he disproves the presumed guilt.

    Modern medicine is not about care as much as it is about conflict. Patients and family members more often than not are ready to fight, and in the even of a bad outcome, assign blame. If you want to be detached and empathize with the family, saying “let’s be understanding, they are just trying to work through their frustration and grief”, then be my guest. But as I’ve written here before, I view every interaction with every patient and family as a potential threat to my livelihood. That I smile and remain courteous, and occasionally even share a joke, a laugh, or moment of genuine sympathy with a patient or family does not remove the tension from my underlying awareness that they could turn on me in an instant, for events beyond my ability to control. I didn’t go into medicine thinking this, but learned it from my own experience as well as seeing what colleagues have endured.

    That patients and their families are so easily willing to lie about their doctors, and use the slightest (perceived) provocation to assault them with the power of the state underscores the significant, irreversible shift that has occurred in society’s view of its’ physicians. The patient-physician relationship now is an oppositional one, and there is sadly no use in wishing otherwise.

    • Steve O'
      July 23, 2016 at 1:24 pm

      Nothing like having a patient “snitch” on you to a senior administrator for not giving him narcotics. I was called in to discuss my not giving patient narcotics when the patient wanted them. The Administrator wanted to reach a middle ground where we were “both right.” Half the dose?
      “Moral hazard” means reaping a benefit by dumping the risk on another person. Who could lose from an unneeded prescription of narcotics? The administrator? The patient? Nope.

  8. fred powell
    July 23, 2016 at 9:52 am

    Hindsight is 20/20. When the pt and daughter refused treatment, he shouldnt have appeased them in offering outpatient treatment (he was being too nice). No good deed goes unpunished with today’s society. When they refused his preferred treatment, that’s where his duty to them should stop, IMO. Where is their personal responsibility for making their own decision to refuse going to the hospital? The board is way out of line here. They shouldnt have any authority to reprimand the doc for being rude. If the family members were accusing him of wrong doing, I would have been irritated as well. This hysterical, medically uneducated daughter would have lit my fuse as well.

  9. Sir Lance-a-Lot
    July 23, 2016 at 9:39 am

    Hey, what about Dr. Terry Bennett in NH?

    He’s an independently practicing curmudgeon and wiseass who got in trouble with the board in 2005 for telling a fat woman that if she didn’t lose weight, soon only black guys would be interested in her.

    Rude? Sure.

    Untrue? Doubtful.

    Worthy of Board censure? No frickin’ way.

  10. Seneca
    July 23, 2016 at 8:26 am

    The hapless Dr. Weiss probably made the best of a bad situation. These state licensing boards, ever searching to weed out the “bad doctors” will never leave a physician alone once they smell blood. I know several colleagues who committed similar offences and were tortured by the state board for a decade or longer! Unhappy families can use these state medical boards to exact revenge on doctors who perhaps could use better customer relation skills but did not deviate from the accepted standards of care. Caveat medicus indeed.

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