Former Texas Medical Board Member’s Lawsuit Dismissed

March 3, 2012

3 March – Like medical boards across the US, the Texas Medical Board stated mission is to “protect and enhance the public’s health, safety and welfare by establishing and maintaining standards of excellence used in regulating the practice of medicine and ensuring quality health care for the citizens of Texas through licensure, discipline and education.”

Despite these lofty words, medical boards are typically stacked with healthcare and pharmaceutical industry shills who use their administrative positions to retaliate against doctors who deviate from what drug and healthcare corporations call the medical “standard of care.”

While this standard theoretically helps “good” doctors to identify, discipline and weed out “bad” ones, medical boards and the “peer review” process are often used as a weapon against conscientious physicians who deviate from the healthcare industry’s comparatively low “standard of care.”

This means that if 10,000 doctors receive kickbacks from companies like Bristol-Myers Squibb (BMS) and Gilead Sciences for prescribing drugs like Zidovudine to pregnant women, and an honest doctor (who understands cell biology and has read the medical and scientific literature) thinks that nutritional supplements are better, the 10,000 can allege that the “disruptive” doctor is dangerous to patients and order a review of his patient charts. 

Although the process occasionally works, it is typically abused.  If the peer review or state medical boards successfully suspend the targeted physician’s clinical privileges for one month or longer, his name is sent to the National Physician Database (NPDB), effectively ending his career. 

For this reason, state medical boards have become one of the primary mechanisms used to enforce corruption that permeates the healthcare and pharmaceutical industries.  Sometimes, however, the targeted physicians publicly criticize the corrupt practices and conflicts of interest that permeate these boards. 

One of those rare “man bites dog” cases was recently reported in the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) by peer review expert Lawrence R. Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., who reminds us of our right to criticize the performance and/or conduct of public officials like Keith E. Miller MD, without fear of punishment or retaliation: 

“On Jan 11, 2012, an Appeals Court in Texas upheld this right in its decision in the case involving an AAPS member, Dr. Steven F. Hotze… In reviewing the facts of the case, the Court noted (that) Miller is a physician and, from 2003 until 2007, he served on the Texas Medical Board (TMB). He was the chairman of the TMB’s Disciplinary Process Review Committee…. Hotze became aware of Miller’s alleged conduct on the TMB and that Miller had testified as an expert against physicians in over forty medical malpractice cases while on the TMB.  Hotze wrote an editorial in a community newspaper complaining about the TMB, without mentioning Miller.  He wrote additional editorials describing the alleged denial of constitutional rights of physicians who appeared before Miller and the TMB.  Hotze invited Pigott [Dr. Shirley P. Pigott] to be a guest on his radio program to share her experiences with TMB and to describe her investigation into Miller’s dual roles as a TMB member and an expert witness against physicians in medical malpractice cases. Pigott also complained that Miller’s position on an advisory board for Blue Cross Blue Shield created a conflict of interest.  After Miller resigned from the TMB, Hotze wrote an article saying that Miller was forced off the board.  He published the article on his website, FANS. The same letter was also published on the website for the AAPS…”

Miller sued doctors Hotze and Pigott and the court correctly ruled against him.  For more information about the case and problems with TMB and other boards, see Dr. Huntoon’s editorial.

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