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If you think that what you don't know won't hurt you, please read the following informational articles about the complete failure of the state regulatory board whose alleged "mission"/purpose is to "protect the public"[at taxpayer expense].

Article #1:

From: the STATE online newspaper in North Carolina
Posted on Fri, Oct. 01, 2004

Secrecy harmful on medical, other disciplinary boards

THE CRIMINAL INVESTIGATION into dangerous, unorthodox methods that a coroner says killed a woman being treated by a West Columbia physician has already led to one positive change by the state Board of Medical Examiners.

The board had issued a cease-and-desist order against Dr. James M. Shortt in August, after learning of the death, but it had not notified the media or posted the information on its Web site, as it does when it suspends physicians’ licenses; officials said they didn’t think to do either because this was the first time they had issued such an order against a licensed physician. But in light of the publicity over this case, the board said it would publicize any such orders in the future.

It’s a good change, but it’s not enough. Like practically every regulatory agency in the state, the work of the Board of Medical Examiners is shrouded in secrecy. While the board does a good job of letting the public know when it takes drastic actions against physicians, it keeps most complaints secret, and it often resolves those complaints with private letters of reprimand, of which the public can never learn.

Sometimes even its more drastic sanctions are shielded from the public. Just days before the Shortt case burst into the headlines, The Island Packet of Hilton Head went to court to try to force open records about a local physician, whom the Board of Medical Examiners had twice tried to discipline, only to be overruled by an administrative law judge. In both cases, the judge, Marvin Kittrell, sealed the records and issued a gag order, leaving the public to wonder whether the board was right in considering the doctor a danger, or the judge was right in deciding otherwise.

While the Board of Medical Examiners certainly can’t control what judges do — the gag order means officials there can’t even discuss the case — Mr. Kittrell’s actions are completely consistent with the culture of secrecy that surrounds the disciplinary process for not only doctors but lawyers and elected officials and accountants and veterinarians and an absurdly large number of other professions and occupations that are licensed by the state.

Officials say all this secrecy is necessary to protect the reputation of innocent people who are targeted by illegitimate complaints, and it certainly does that. But it also protects the regulatory boards, and the professions they regulate, from public scrutiny: If nearly all complaints are hidden from the public, then we can never tell if the regulatory boards are dismissing legitimate complaints, or if they are being too lenient with those cases they determine have merit.

This situation should be especially troubling to physicians, who raise legitimate complaints about a medical malpractice system that too often results in awards for people whose injuries were not actually caused by malpractice. The flip side of that problem is that most actual victims of medical malpractice never sue, and so the physicians who truly are a danger are never punished in any way.

If medical boards would be more aggressive about punishing physicians whose preventable errors harm people — and about publicizing their actions — that would go a long way toward rallying public support for changes in the tort system that could protect physicians who do nothing wrong. It also would go a long way toward protecting the public from that tiny minority of physicians who truly are a public threat.

© 2004 The State and wire service sources. All Rights Reserved.

Article #2:

Death Puts Spotlight on a Doctor and Regulators


Published: October 6, 2004

WEST COLUMBIA, S.C., Sept. 29 - Katherine Bibeau came here in March, to a red-brick doctor's office tucked between a furniture store and a steel factory, looking to slow her physical decline from multiple sclerosis.

Ms. Bibeau, a 53-year-old laboratory technician from Minnesota, met Dr. James Shortt, who practices alternative medicine. He is, according to a sign on the front of the building, a "longevity physician."

"Hydrogen peroxide would be very good to kill whatever's in there," Dr. Shortt had told Ms. Bibeau over the phone in February, according to a transcript of his taped recording of the call, "because, right now, we don't know what it is."

On March 9, Dr. Shortt administered the hydrogen peroxide, intravenously. Over the next five days, Ms. Bibeau bled to death.

The coroner here has called Ms. Bibeau's death a homicide, her family has filed a civil suit, and law enforcement officials have raided Dr. Shortt's office and seized his files.

But the Web site of the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners has this to say about Dr. Shortt: "The above licensee is in good standing."

The case has focused attention not just on the danger of an unorthodox therapy but also on the conduct of the state medical board, which regulates doctors and provides information about them to the public.

Medical regulators often move slowly, out of concern for doctors who make innocent mistakes.

"The balancing act," said Dr. Robert M. Wachter, a professor of medicine at the University of California, San Francisco, and a co-author of a book about patient safety, "is that when we have a dangerous doctor, we don't have a good mechanism to throw him out of the system or at the very least inform patients about him while not casting the net so wide that the innocent, compassionate, caring physician who makes an error once in a while is tarred by the same brush."

South Carolina's approach is a representative one, Dr. Wachter said. "Most states are in about the same situation," he said. "The bias is still tilted toward protecting the providers."

A receptionist at Dr. Shortt's office referred a reporter to his lawyer, Ward Bradley.

"We have a nice man who is engaged in cutting-edge, outside-the-box, not-widely-accepted-by-the-medical-establishment practices for a woman who could not find relief from traditional medicine," Mr. Bradley said.

He said the true cause of death had yet to be determined, noting that Ms. Bibeau was taking powerful drugs for her disease. "It's a very dilute form of hydrogen peroxide," he said. "There are thousands of doctors who do this."

Dr. Michael J. Olek, director of the multiple sclerosis center at the University of California, Irvine, said he had never heard of the therapy.

"It doesn't make any sense at all," Dr. Olek said. "It sounds very, very dangerous."

Doctors in North Carolina, Missouri and Tennessee have had their licenses suspended or revoked for treating patients with intravenous hydrogen peroxide. Adherents of the treatment call it "oxidative therapy" and say it can help cure cancer, AIDS, asthma and other conditions. Because the causes of multiple sclerosis are poorly understood and its symptoms are unpredictable, patients are often eager to experiment with any treatment that might help. But medical experts said there was no scientific evidence to suggest that hydrogen peroxide was an effective treatment. They added that the substance, an antiseptic and bleaching agent, should generally be harmless if it was sufficiently diluted.

In August, the South Carolina Board of Medical Examiners said the infusion of hydrogen peroxide "is unacceptable and constitutes unprofessional conduct as it is likely to harm the public" and ordered Dr. Shortt "to immediately cease and desist from any further intravenous infusion."

But that order has been rescinded, said Jim Knight, a spokesman for the medical board. "The confidentiality rules set up by state law about the disciplinary proceedings prohibit me from saying anything further," he said.

[On Thursday, the board filed an administrative complaint to suspend Dr. Shortt's license. The Web site continued to say that he was in good standing as of Tuesday.]

"The regulators are asleep at the switch," said Richard Gergel, who represents Ms. Bibeau's family in a civil suit against Dr. Shortt filed in federal court in Columbia on Sept. 22. "They've got a charlatan on their hands, and they're not set up to regulate charlatans."

Gary Watts, the county coroner who ruled Ms. Bibeau's death a homicide, also found fault with the state medical board.

"A doctor or a dentist can have his license revoked for touching a woman's breast," Mr. Watts said. "He killed this woman. She would be here today if he did not infuse her with hydrogen peroxide."

Dr. Clay A. Nichols, the forensic pathologist who conducted the autopsy on Ms. Bibeau, said Dr. Shortt gave the medical profession a bad name.

"He's selling hope to the hopeless, at a very high price," Dr. Nichols said.

Dr. Shortt charged Ms. Bibeau about $3,000, but that is not the price Dr. Nichols meant. The therapy cost Ms. Bibeau her life, he said, and her death was not a pretty one.

"People have compared this to becoming a hemophiliac," Dr. Nichols said. "You just keep bleeding."

David L. Thomas, a state senator from Greenville, S.C., and a partner in the law firm that represents Dr. Shortt, said that he, his wife and his mother had all been to see Dr. Shortt for the intravenous hydrogen peroxide therapy, to good effect.

"My wife had been diagnosed with probable onset of M.S.," he said, referring to the same degenerative disease that Ms. Bibeau had. The treatment has improved her condition, he said. "She's walking again," he added, referring to his wife, Fran Thomas.

In a telephone interview from his home in Cottage Grove, Minn., David Bibeau lapsed into the present tense in talking of his late wife. They had been together for 25 years.

"She likes to cook, and she loves to do crafts," said Mr. Bibeau, a salesman. "She was June Cleaver, but with an attitude."

Article #3:

Posted on Sun, Oct. 17, 2004 - from: The

Doctors’ rights vs. disclosure

News Columnist


A little-known state court is ordering once-public records about potentially dangerous doctors be kept secret.

As a result, warnings about doctors who a state medical board says might pose a threat to the public have been removed from a state Internet site or kept secret. In at least two cases, that means patients might not know that their doctors have histories of documented questionable conduct.

After the court’s actions, warnings about a Hilton Head cardiologist and a West Columbia family doctor were not disclosed or were removed from the state’s official medical Web site. That site now lists the two as being “in good standing” — despite findings by the S.C. Board of Medical Examiners that their conduct likely threatened the public.

The secrecy has been ordered by the Administrative Law Court, a taxpayer-supported group of state judges who specialize in handling appeals from state agencies and boards. The Law Court has a $1.4 million-a-year budget, which pays for judges, law clerks and other staff. It is housed in the Brown Building on State House grounds.

Law Court judges hear appeals from various state agencies including the Board of Medical Examiners.

The medical board investigates complaints of physician misconduct. It also can suspend or revoke a doctor’s medical license. “The (medical) board’s primary mission is protection of the public,” its Web site says.

However, doctors can nullify, in effect, the medical board’s actions by appealing the board’s decisions to the Administrative Law Court. During an appeal, the Law Court can issue gag orders, preventing anyone from talking about cases, and can seal all records.

It can take months or years for an appeal to run its course. Meanwhile, the public is kept in the dark about the medical board’s investigation and findings.

Last year, the Law Court kept three physician cases confidential. Officials say that number is typical.

However, that secrecy is being challenged.

A case before the S.C. Supreme Court might determine whether the Law Court can keep secret the medical board’s findings of doctor misconduct.

At issue is a basic principle: Is it more important to protect the public from potentially dangerous doctors or to protect doctors?


In recent years, the state Supreme Court has issued statements saying S.C. courts should be open to the public.

In a 2003 ruling, intended to ban most secret settlements, the Supreme Court noted the state Constitution “provides that all courts of this state shall be public.”

But, in cases involving doctors, the Administrative Law Court still employs secrecy.

In an interview, Chief Judge Marvin Kittrell said he could not discuss specific cases pending before his court, including especially the case before the Supreme Court. In that case, a Hilton Head newspaper is seeking to open the disciplinary records of a Lowcountry cardiologist.

“As a judge, I cannot comment on these things,” Kittrell said.

In a filing with the Supreme Court, Kittrell defends his agency’s secrecy in the case, saying it was justified. Kittrell didn’t consider the medical board’s order in that case — suspending a doctor from practice — to be truly final, his court filing said.

Asked if he would want a family member treated by a doctor who is listed in “good standing” by the medical board but secretly in his court facing charges of questionable conduct, Judge Kittrell said, “I have no comment.”

In its filing in the same case, the medical board said its definition of “final order” was different from Kittrell’s. The board thinks its actions are final when taken. But, at least in some cases, Kittrell does not consider the board’s actions final. The medical board also asked the Supreme Court to settle the broader issue of whether the Law Court can make secret the actions of the medical board.

“It is an important matter of public policy that the board be allowed to publish suspensions, temporary or otherwise, so that patients and potential patients and other health care providers will be aware of the suspensions,” the board told the Supreme Court.


The physician involved in the case before the Supreme Court is Dr. James Johnston, 46, a Hilton Head cardiologist.

In legal papers filed by Judge Kittrell, Johnston is identified only as “Anonymous Physician.”

However, legal papers filed by the Hilton Head Island Packet newspaper, which wants access to Johnston’s disciplinary records, identify the doctor by name. The newspaper had been checking the medical board’s Web site daily. On May 25, reporters saw an Internet posting that the medical board temporarily had suspended Johnston from practice.

The then-public suspension order, dated May 24, said Johnston had tried to treat a patient in the Hilton Head Regional Medical Center’s emergency room while impaired. Another doctor asked Johnston to leave the emergency room. The medical board’s order also cited a hospital letter saying Johnston had been suspended from practicing at the hospital “due to possible impairment while on call for the Emergency Department.”

The May 24 suspension order also noted Johnston had a history of impairment and had failed to get treatment. “This Board finds that (Johnston’s) addiction to alcohol to such a degree as to render him unfit to practice medicine and his refusal to cooperate ... constitute a serious threat to the public health, safety, and welfare.”

On May 26, the order suspending Johnston disappeared from the Medical Board’s Internet site. It was replaced by a notice saying Johnston was “in good standing.”

In its case, the Island Packet seeks access to records involving Johnston that are now in Kittrell’s court. As of yet, the Supreme Court has not decided whether to accept the case.

Johnston referred a request for comment to his lawyer. Celeste Jones of the McNair Law Firm said legal papers filed with the Supreme Court on Johnston’s behalf in the Island Packet case argue that information in his case is confidential. That’s because the medical board has not held a hearing in his case and thus has not issued a “final order,” she said.

Hilton Head Regional Medical Center did not return a call.


A second once-public board case involves Dr. James Shorttof West Columbia.

After one of Shortt’s patients, Katherine Bibeau, died on March 14 in Columbia, Richland County coroner Gary Watts investigated. An autopsy determined Bibeau died as a result of injections of hydrogen peroxide.

Hydrogen peroxide is sometimes used in alternative medicine. Federal regulators, however, have not approved its injection. A small minority of patients also have died following hydrogen peroxide injections.

In early August, the Board of Medical Examiners issued a “cease and desist” order against Shortt, saying injecting patients with hydrogen peroxide “constitutes unprofessional conduct as it is likely to harm the public.”

Richard Gergel, an attorney for Bibeau’s estate, obtained a copy of that order from the Board of Medical Examiners.

However, the board last week refused to release a copy of that order to The State newspaper.

Another document obtained by The State says the Shortt matter now is before the Administrative Law Court.

Medical board spokesman Jim Knight did confirm the existence of the cease-and-desist order but said it had been withdrawn. He said he could not comment on any other aspect of the case, including whether the case was now before the Administrative Law Court.

Kittrell also declined to confirm whether the Shortt case is before the Law Court.

In an interview, Shortt said he has agreed to halt his hydrogen peroxide treatments pending a medical board investigation. He said he was unsure whether his case is before the Law Court or the medical board.

Shortt, 58, said hydrogen peroxide treatments have been used for 90 years and are “incredibly safe.” He said he has treated at least 2,200 patients with the substance.

Shortt now is listed “in good standing” on the medical board’s Internet site.

That stuns coroner Watts, who helped file the original complaint about Bibeau’s death with the medical board.

“If you are going to leave Shortt as being in good standing, they at least need to somehow make it known there was a cease-and-desist order against him — and list their reasons for setting the order aside,” Watts said. “This is a public health issue.”


The next step is for the Supreme Court to decide whether to hear the Hilton Head case.

Gergel, the attorney for Bibeau, said the disciplinary process for doctors is too secretive, even before the Law Court judges clamp more secrecy over once-public medical board decisions.

“This adds another layer of secrecy on an already too-secret board,” he said. “How can the public make an informed judgment about whether to seek care from a doctor if it can’t learn what the medical board has done?”

The 7,777-member S.C. Medical Association, which represents most of the state’s doctors, also is eyeing the case.

The association believes the medical board’s final orders should be public, said Dr. Gerald Harmon, the group’s chairman and a Georgetown family physician.

Harmon said he hasn’t yet read the papers before the Supreme Court but is very concerned about the Law Court’s secrecy. He said the Medical Association will explore intervening in court.

It’s important that the medical profession be open about its disciplinary actions against questionable doctors, Harmon said. Otherwise, the public might not support tort reform efforts, he said. “We can’t have our cake and eat it, too.”

Carl Muller, the Greenville lawyer representing the Island Packet, said the case poses a fundamental question about the Administrative Law Court.

“If they are going to call themselves a court and act like a court, then they ought to be a court and be open,” he said.

Article #4:


May my beloved partner ROMI rest in peace  - no matter wherever her bits and pieces/frozen carcass may be held hostage.


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