I know we don’t actually need more evidence that Mississippi’s medical board is the worst in the country but we’re going to get some. Lawrence “Larry” Stewart, MD was an otolaryngologist from McComb, MS. Stewart pleaded guilty to felony drug charges and admitted in federal court to having sex with a patient in exchange for drugs. His DEA registration was taken from him because he was a threat to public safety.
He was charged by the Mississippi board with the drug charges (after all he pleaded guilty- should have been a chip-shot). For some reason the worthless morons running the board didn’t charge him with the sex.But, everyone on the board knew about the sex- after all it was in the local paper.
But the Mississippi board, after careful consideration determined that Stewart’s “license to practice medicine in the State of Mississippi is hereby suspended.” Whoa- the Mississippi did something right. Well, not quite. The order goes on “[h]owever the suspension is hereby stayed provided Licensee complies with the following requirements…” Yes, you read that right. This low-life trades sex for drugs and even that won’t get his license revoked in Mississippi!
But it gets better still. The requirements consist of a course in ETHICS. Seriously- does anyone believe that a confessed felon will change because of some more education? But it get better still. The next requirement “[l]icensee shall maintain at all time full and complete advocacy with the Mississippi Professional Health Program (MPHP) and comply… for life.” Holy crap.
So in Mississippi you can be a confessed felon trading sex for drugs and as long as you go to rehab you can keep practicing medicine! Basically, you can be almost any kind of low-life, bottom dwelling scumbag and be a doctor in Mississippi.
This is exactly why laypersons should be afraid of their doctors. Never has Stewart been accused of being an alcoholic or drug addict. So why is he going to rehab? What is the board not telling the citizens of Mississippi? What the board is telling the citizens of Mississippi is that it values the protection of doctors more than it values public health and safety.
The Mississippi board makes it hard to find Stewart’s order. I made it easy. Click his name- stewart.
Every one’s excited about the “epidemic.” Recently I posed the question, “who cares?” As it turns out not very many people.
Let’s look first at the epidemic. Using CDC data we can see the rise in deaths from opiates:
Wow, it seems that no one thought this was a problem until WHITE PEOPLE started dying. People of color either no how to use recreational drugs or simply don’t. The epidemic is a problem because it’s affecting the white middle class. Gosh, no we gotta do something. The death from opiates is widely expected to top 55,000 for 2016. That’s the equivalent of SIX people every hour, every day. What did the Federal government do? The CDC issued “guidelines” for prescribing. Many states have issued similar guidance- but it’s mostly voluntary. Prosecutions are rare and the penalties vary widely. State medical boards routinely fail to take meaningful actions.
The bottom line- doctors continue to be treated “special.” They’re subjected to some additional scrutiny and “guidance” now that their actions have begun killing white people but they’re largely immune to discipline.
There’s an opioid epidemic. Oops. Maybe that should be a question. There’s an opioid epidemic?
Even if there is, who cares?
Doctors care. Not because of patients but because addiction pays. I can say with complete certainty that without payment no physician would be offering addiction treatment. The newest rage is Suboxone for “medication assisted treatment (“MAT”).” Suboxone, like methadone before it, is not a cure for addiction- no matter what The American Society for Addiction Medicine may say. These addicts are not recovering they are exchanging one addictive narcotic drug for another one. A different drug for which they need a prescription which can only be obtained by a licensed provider (physician, physician-assistant, or nurse practitioner). The idea behind MAT is substituting one addiction for another. To put it in perspective it’s like treating an alcoholic with limited supplies of prescription beer. It’s like treating crack addicts with methamphetamine.
Doctors also care because they make money from each and every visit at which they write prescriptions. The price for a “suboxone visit” may be as high $500 and some providers only take cash. The rise of “pill mills” has occurred, not because doctors altruistically want to ease the suffering of people but because it pays. In short, cutting back prescribing cuts into business. Medical boards are hesitant to intervene because they are frequently run by doctors- the same doctors who make money prescribing. For example, Mississippi, with great fanfare announced the “Governor’s task force” on opioids in December 2016. Eight months later the task force has 41 recommendations. The few recommendation that have been released so far are similar to what other jurisdictions already have in place. It’s worth noting that the Governor specifically indicated that “here have been 95 overdoses to date this year in Mississipp.”
“Pain doctors” frequently run cash-only businesses with waiting rooms and parking lots filled to capacity with “unsavory” individuals. Pill mills are enough of a problem that there are instructions for how to recognize them. It’s not hard. See here, here, here, and here. Some of my favorites:
Recent occurrences may cause doctors to re-think whether the income from opiate prescriptions is really worth it. South Bend, IN now has “groups working together to fight the local opioid epidemic.” It remains to be seen what “working together” will actually mean. It is, after all, only the providers (mostly doctors) who can stop the flow of unnecessary prescriptions.
More on the “opioid epidemic” later.