How to be an Authentic Doctor #21: The Board is Not Your Friend


Your State Board of Medicine does not represent you.   They represent the public.  They are not your friend.  You pay them money every year for your license but in no way do they feel indebted to you.  Due to political pressures, these Boards have to penalize a certain amount of doctors every year in order to satisfy groups like Public Citizen.   Some of these doctors deserve it.  Many do not.  The State Board of Medicine is your enemy.  They have to listen to EVERY complaint by a patient, no matter how ridiculous it may be.   I was investigated for not giving antibiotics for a virus, which did not please a patient.   It didn’t matter to the Board.  They seem to investigate EVERY complaint by a patient else they fear public retribution.  The only ones they do NOT fear are doctors and so they have no problem making an example of as many as they can.  If you are ever investigated by your Board then cooperate fully.  If they pursue a complaint even more and ask you to come in for a hearing then you must pull out all the stops.   Even if they say that you do not need legal representation you still must get a lawyer.  Why? Because, they are lying and are suckering you into coming to the hearing without legal help.   This was their plan all along (you will know this when the letter says you do not need a lawyer but can bring one if you like).   And then they will punish you.   It is a numbers game.  So, find the best lawyer who has a history of irritating or intimating the board and hire him or her.  Pay the money.  It will save so much heartache later on.

Douglas Farrago MD

Douglas Farrago MD is a full-time practicing family doc in Forest, Va. He started Forest Direct Primary Care where he takes no insurance and bills patients a monthly fee. He is board certified in the specialty of Family Practice. He is the inventor of a product called the Knee Saver which is currently in the Baseball Hall of Fame. The Knee Saver and its knock-offs are worn by many major league baseball catchers. He is also the inventor of the CryoHelmet used by athletes for head injuries as well as migraine sufferers. Dr. Farrago is the author of four books, two of which are the top two most popular DPC books. From 2001 – 2011, Dr. Farrago was the editor and creator of the Placebo Journal which ran for 10 full years. Described as the Mad Magazine for doctors, he and the Placebo Journal were featured in the Washington Post, US News and World Report, the AP, and the NY Times. Dr. Farrago is also the editor of the blog Authentic Medicine which was born out of concern about where the direction of healthcare is heading and the belief that the wrong people are in charge. This blog has been going daily for more than 15 years Article about Dr. Farrago in Doximity Email Dr. Farrago – [email protected] 

  13 comments for “How to be an Authentic Doctor #21: The Board is Not Your Friend

  1. Veverly Edwards
    June 20, 2014 at 8:39 pm

    While I imagine there are some boards that go after the doctors, there are some that are corrupt and undermine the patient. When my daughter was 13-years-old, she saw a neurologist for numbing sensations she had in her limbs. He said it was a ware form of migraine that caused the numbing sensations. He refused to order an MRI and assured me that my daughter would grow out them. He prescribed Zomig for the numbing sensations and gave me samples. Three days later my daughter had a massive stroke and four days later was declared brain-dead. Although she lived she is permanently disabled and suffered brain-damage. She actually had a rare condition called MoyaMoya. Now, this condition is very rare, but the contraindications on Zomig clearly state not to prescribe until a clear diagnosis of migraine headache has been established because it can be fatal to patients with other underlying conditions. She only saw him once. Since I did not fill the prescription, I did not learn of his negligence in prescribing the drug until later. Well, this neurologist realized his error and instead of admitting it, he changed my daughter’s medical records to show migraine headaches as a diagnosis. He even had her primary care physician to add a statement that inferred she had headaches prior to the visit to him. To make a long story short, I believe they paid off the attorney representing her case in May 2012. He used the same fraudulent records in an attempt to coerce me into dismissing the case with prejudice. When I submitted a complaint to the Idaho Medical Board ( inconsistencies in the medical records was obvious) they found no grounds for my complaint. Now, while I imagine there are some people out there looking for a free ride, there are those who have been debilitated and lives destroyed by unethical doctors and the corrupt medical boards have covered for them.

    • Doug Farrago
      June 20, 2014 at 11:40 pm

      I am sorry for your loss. I cannot comment on your case in any sane way. There are bad people out there. There are BAD doctors out there. Since they give us all a bad name, I want the bad apples removed as well. Unfortunately, I have seen cases where the bad ones walk and the good ones, who can’t afford the big time lawyers, are punished to reach quotas. A horrid system.

      • Veverly Edwards
        June 21, 2014 at 12:14 am

        I also wrote a book. It was just released. I placed my daughter’s medical records in it so that the world could see what they did. The book “God’s Miracle Among Corruption in Idaho,” gives a disturbing documented look into what happens when patients encounter unethical medical communities. It tells of my daughter’s horrid journey through the medical and legal communities in Idaho Falls, Idaho. I do not believe that every doctor is like the ones we encountered in Idaho, but you are right, there needs to be a way to expose those that give the profession a really bad name.

  2. Melinda
    June 19, 2014 at 9:10 pm

    I have a friend who was legitimately and severely harmed by a bad doctor. She is extremely grateful for all of the wonderful doctors who have helped her since then, as many were leery of treating a patient who has a malpractice suit against a doctor. She both sued (and her lawyer said he knew of two other lawsuits pending against the same doctor) and put in a complaint to the board, wanting to prevent this from happening to anyone else and to pay back the system that has paid her medical bills when this doctor’s insurance should have instead.

    Her complaint to the board took 3.5 years to be finalized. The board charged the doctor with several forms of malpractice in her case. However, the doctor’s attorney worked out a plea deal in which my friend’s complaint was lumped together with 7 additional complaints the board considered valid about the same doctor, allowing the doctor to plead “no contest” to SOME of the charges regarding ONE of the other complaints and accept sanctions, then not have to answer to all of the rest. All 7 of the other cases were regarding narcotics and nothing like my friend’s case.

    What does it take for a state board to recognize a bad doctor? If I were an MD, I’d not want to call a guy like that a colleague and a representative of the medical profession. (The legal case is still ongoing.)

    • Doug Farrago
      June 20, 2014 at 5:52 am

      Melinda, I have seen cases like this as well. That is what disgusts me so much about the Board. The bad doctors get a slap on the wrist while other doctors get reprimanded for ridiculous stuff. That is more proof that this is just a numbers game for them. More quotas and metrics that are killing healthcare.

    • Pat
      June 20, 2014 at 10:30 am

      13 years ago when we put an EMR into our office – I know, stop laughing – there was a mis-selection on the screen, leading to an erroneous script. The doc didn’t catch it, the pharmacist didnt’ catch it, and the worthless, toxic, vengeful patient who had taken this same med for years did not question the ridiculous dose. She did end up in the ER, had a scare, but was then released that night with no further problem. There was no ground for a suit, but this awful person went to the good ol’ board. A lawyer, a few thousand later, and my partner got 40 hours community service like a common low-level criminal, all for a damn clerical error. And here’s what really sums up the worth of medical boards: this board-certified family practitioner applied for, and was approved to work her hours off in a local cat clinic. That’s right, a cat clinic, emptying litter and feeding the cats. That’s how seriously the board took any responsibility for improving physician skills and protecting the public.

  3. STooScaredToUseMyRealName
    June 19, 2014 at 7:14 am

    Conditions on my registration mean I cannot possibly contribute to the discussion of this article:

    On of many conditions allowing me to be a practicing registered medical practitioner:

    The Practitioner will only practice in a group practice approved by the Board or its delegate.

    For the purposes of these conditions, the practice of medicine means any role, whether remunerated or not, in which the individual uses their skill and knowledge as a medical practitioner. It is not limited to the provision of direct clinical care and extends to remunerated or unremunerated consultations or procedures, prescribing, referring and signing documents requiring the exercise of knowledge and skills of a medical practitioner.

  4. Jim
    June 18, 2014 at 11:47 pm

    Good advice. Unfortunately, I didn’t have that good attorney. It seemed to me that neither my attorney nor the board was interested in anything I had to say. As a result, I got a death sentence to my practicing medicine. When the other state that I was licensed filed suit because of the domino effect (as well as the Am. Board of Surgery), I was able to present what they wouldn’t listen to, and have no sanctions (unfortunately it took over 2 years to get settled, and nobody wants to hire anyone who hasn’t practiced in the US in over 2 years).
    I did get some satisfaction when the court of appeals ruled in favor of another physician and stated that the board had done a “pathetically subpar investigation” of that physician.

  5. Phil Lavine
    June 18, 2014 at 9:36 pm

    Amen. Just got through with one of these spurious complaints. I know as a psychiatrist I deal w/ a lot of emotionally disturbed peeps, but this one was out for blood because I urged her to be hospitalized voluntarily due to her suicidalness, and all she thought she needed was Lexapro. She even said in her complaint that she had called a lawyer, but had been referred to the complaint process! I called my malpractice company, and they got me a lawyer. Probably cost thousands, just to do the paper work. My lawyer pointed out that patient complaints have skyrocketed since the med boards started making complaint filing easy/online. I can’t remember who said the customer is always right, but I never signed on to treat customers!

    • Pat
      June 19, 2014 at 8:50 pm

      If we could treat them as customers, and demand a fair exchange/relationship with them, a lot of this abusive garbage would go away.

  6. June 18, 2014 at 11:44 am

    Many complaints, because they are investigated by the state boards, are used by complainants to gather the information for free to take to the lawyer and sue.

  7. Stella Fitzgibbons MD
    June 18, 2014 at 9:17 am

    In my expert-witness work it’s been pointed out that when somebody can’t find a plaintiff med-mal attorney to take their stoopid case, they seek revenge via the state board.

    • Pat
      June 18, 2014 at 9:45 am

      That’s true Stella. After a merit-less suit got a vengeful widow a laughably small settlement, she tried to “Board” me. Even the board threw the complaint out, but she was able to make the attempt. State medical boards are more evidence that the public does not really trust and respect doctors after all, and thinks of them as cheats, liars, and targets.

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