Liz Seegert (@lseegert), is AHCJ’s topic editor on aging. Her work has appeared in NextAvenue.com, Journal of Active Aging, Cancer Today, Kaiser Health News, the Connecticut Health I-Team and other outlets. She is a senior fellow at the Center for Health Policy and Media Engagement at George Washington University and co-produces the HealthCetera podcast.
What happens when the medical board of a major state begins reviewing fatal opioid overdoses with an eye to disciplining physicians who wrote the prescriptions?
According to this “How I Did It piece” from Cheryl Clark, depending on the perspective, it’s either a witch hunt, upending practices of physicians who legitimately tried to help patients manage pain, or a much-needed action to protect consumers from inappropriate, and perhaps deadly, prescribing. Continue reading →
Burlington Free Press reporter Adam Silverman writes that his newspaper is seeking the release of certain details redacted from a medical board inquiry into what he calls “allegations that a Vermont doctor engaged in conduct that might have exposed the public to harm” related to a lawsuit filed by a former board director alleging that he was forced to resign his post in 2010 after authorizing two inquiries despite objections from state health officials.
The missing information includes the exact nature of two doctors’ “official” positions with the State of Vermont, as well as the dates of the cases in question. Silverman found that the attorney who filed the suit blacked out the information from the public version because he “didn’t want to risk improperly disclosing details of Medical Practice Board cases before the state became involved in defending the lawsuit.”
In court Monday, Assistant Attorney General David Groff told Toor that judges often have to balance the public’s right to know against competing private interests — in this case, that of doctors whose good names could be besmirched by “spurious” accusations. For the Wargo lawsuit, though, Groff added, state lawmakers already have charted the course: Information about Medical Practice Board inquiries becomes public only if an investigation results in formal accusations. Here, the investigation is ongoing, he said.
No one argued for releasing the records at Monday’s hearing, but the Free Press has written in letters to the court that the material should be unsealed because “there is an inherent public interest” in learning about a possible threat of harm to the public.