Before I get back to the story, let me take the opportunity to thank some people for their input: Pinkie Maria, Chantay Linzie, and Robin Kamm, thank you for the ranking information. I will use it. However, remember your input is also crucial to editing. I want it to be a conversation, so your questioning the data and the story will strengthen the argument by forcing me to be clear. That’s why I include documents to support my take.
Delicia, Sharri, Michal, Marcellus, Kareen, Sybil, Hellen and Nancy R. thanks so much for taking the time to read. I want your input on content too. My publisher and I differ on content (that’s one of the reasons I put it out there). She works in media and therefore is protective of it. She felt she wouldn’t be able to get media advertisement for the book, if I was too hard on the media. I don’t think it is necessary to be hard on the media, but I am going to challenge when they have it wrong. I decided just to tell the truth. What I object to is the media running from the truth when I produced documents refuting their stories. I find that incredibly dishonest on their part.
Rachael, Clark, and Mindi: I will use my twitter account to alert you (and everyone else) to posts. As for facebook, it’s coming. My immediate goal was just to have a conversation with a few people who I cared about; I just wanted you to have the facts from me before I moved on.
Back to our story:
I was getting nowhere with this guy, this Bernie Karmatz. I had discussed his harassment and abuse with my lawyer Tom Byrne, but even he was at a loss to understand it. Personally, I believe it was because Tom simply would not believe the truth. He’s a lawyer and has to believe in the system (they created it). He didn’t and couldn’t see a governmental agency as just being sinister for the sake of being sinister. He just considered Bernie to be an idiot, but my concern was having the regulators abusing power. I was sure that Bernie was an idiot, but even idiots abuse power.
I decided also to seek advice from colleagues who were in the Diversion program. Although, I had not been accepted officially into the program (I had never been given the opportunity to meet with the DEC), I had nonetheless resolved to give it a chance. I attended a number of their meetings.
The members of the program all knew Bernie Karmatz a lot longer than I had. I just couldn’t understand what was wrong with this guy. Maybe he was denied entrance into medical school and resented any of us who had been successful. Perhaps his mission now was to “get” every doctor he could, since he had sought out a position in which he could exercise some authority over them (or perhaps I should say us).
They all had incredible insight ranging from the fact that most thought our friend Bernie (Mr. Karmatz) was simply a prick; to those who questioned if I needed to be there in the first place.
These people, the doctors in this program, were impressive to me. They all had had a problem that they confronted head on and I respected them for that. They also acknowledged that at the time of their inclusion into the group they needed to be there. Almost all admitted to being a mess when they arrived. And that, according to the consensus of the group, was the basis for my problem with Bernie. I wasn’t a mess. I arrived with none of their issues. More importantly, I had a clean bill of health from Hazelden. The experts, picked by the Medical Board of California itself, had discharged me from the facility with staff approval because I did not meet the criteria for admission. I didn’t have to take Bernie’s crap, and I didn’t.
But as I said before, what goes on at the Medical Board of California is a bit more sinister. Due process is not a part of their mantra. Despite my communications all along with Mr. Valine, I received a letter from him with all kinds of innuendo ignoring every conversation and letter I had copied to him. It would seem that the fish that is the Medical Board of California stinks from the head (figure17).
I responded immediately (figure18). I now had more than enough information and a solid assessment of whom I was dealing with now, and necessity required that I address these people immediately. They were all very bad people, abusing their mandate without any checks and balances.
I should have expected it. A year earlier, in August of 2006, I had been contacted by a Robin Hollis, a senior investigator, for the Medical Board of California. Another doctor, an anesthesiologist, I had used on a number of occasions, was being investigated. Doctor-patient privilege prevents me from discussing the particulars of this case too, but after a telephone conversation she informed me that they would like me to come in and review the case face-to-face with their examiner. I told her I would be happy to do that. I then received a fax detailing what she really meant (figure19).
Not once during our conversation did Ms. Hollis suggest that she was going to need any of the items in her letter. I felt sideswiped. At the least she had been less than genuine. I told her I would have to speak to my attorney before I could commit to a meeting, particularly one involving the career and reputation of someone else. I also demonstrated my disdain for her deception.
(It’s important to understand that the Medical Board represents consumers, not physicians. Somehow though, they interpret their mandate to mean they don’t have to be fair.)
I forwarded her a letter expressing my concern (figure20). The meeting was confirmed for August 3, 2006, in her office. I met with her and her investigator, a physician I did not know. He began by going through the fine print of the patient’s chart and this went on for about an hour. When finally my patience had been exhausted, I asked him where this was going.
He put me off, and continued going through the detail of the chart. Ultimately, it came down to this: the recovery room nurse had written that the patient was received in the recovery room at 14:25 hours. The anesthesia record showed that the patient had been discharged from the operating room at 12:25 hours. I was being harassed to explain to the Medical Board of California what had happened in those two hours.
I explained that my review of the chart demonstrated that the patient had no problems. The anesthesia report confirms that the patient was wheeled the twenty feet to the recovery room. The anesthesiologist signed her in to recovery at 12:25, which was consistent with the operative note. “Maybe, just maybe” I offered, “the nurse couldn’t tell time”. At any rate what they needed to do was ask the nurse, not me. She wrote it.
Needless to say, I made no new friends that day at the Medical Board of California. It’s okay though, the Medical Board of California isn’t looking for friends. They are looking to justify their own existence. Under the guise of protecting the public, a career administrator is looking for a promotion by “getting some doctor”.
Now don’t get me wrong: I understand the position of the Medical Board of California concerning physicians and substance abuse and I support their efforts. I also believe when you are wrong, you own it, correct it, make amends for it, and then move on with the intention of doing better. I humbly submit to that.
With that in mind I am more than willing to fulfill whatever obligations they deem appropriate. But I will not be forced to own something that is not mine. I will not allow other people to apply labels to me that do not speak to who I am. I will not sit idly by while career administrators abuse the system.
Mr. Karmatz now understands that whether he accepts it or not. I personally do not require that of him. What I require of him is what I have always required of him: while he goes about his job, never forget that at the other end of their policy is a human being. And furthermore, you don’t have to be an alcoholic to benefit from alcohol counseling and awareness.
Unfortunately, these kinds of assaults were not linear; they were happening all at once. In his appearance on Larry King Live, Harvey Levin stated that (with regard to me as a physician) “and the medical board—at least the executive director—doesn’t think he should be practicing”.
So, I asked the Executive Director of the medical Board of California about that statement. Her reply is displayed in figure21. It is an unqualified denial of what Harvey Levin shared with Larry King and his audience. Again Harvey Levin, an attorney, was bastardizing the first amendment in order to focus a camera on himself. He was also misrepresenting the truth. He was lying and the “tone” of the stories to follow, were following his lead.
The Medical Board however, is worse. They had access to the facts. They knew that Harvey Levin was lying to the public; they knew that Stephan Scoggin’s was lying to the Coroner’s investigator; and they knew that “the litigation attorneys for the estate of Donda West and the surviving family members” were lying to them. Yet, because of media and possibly political pressure they ignored common decency and fairness. Their posture speaks to the vulnerability of millions of people to the rise of Naziism in the 1920’s. They knew the doctor was not at fault, and yet went along, continued to harass the doctor and appease public opinion despite the fact that they knew public opinion was wrong. You would think that a state agency, like the Medical Board, acting as a final adjudicator would be held to the same standard of impartiality as a judge. However, because it also conducts the investigation, the Board is really in partnership with the prosecutor (the attorney general). Having therefore made the determination to proceed with a hearing, the Board now has a stake in the outcome. They can’t be objective about witnesses or testimony because the “facts” are obtained through the Board’s own investigation by the Board’s own investigators.
And, it goes one dangerous step further.The singular guiding purpose of the medical board investigator, as I said, is to “get some doctor”. He or she is in no position to prevent or to create something. He gets no credit for that hot, new, less invasive procedure. It is this emphasis on the negative that creates such regulators as Bernie Karmatz, those concrete, anti-conceptual morons who misuse, and abuse, the authority of office in order to conduct their own private witch hunts, all for the purpose of self promotion at someone else’s expense.