Sunday, January 5, 2014

Call for Help

     The next phase in the formal defense of my case is for my lawyers to request a hearing in front of a judge, during which we will use legal arguments (not arguments about the facts of the case, or the substance of the allegations) to persuade the judge to drop some or all of the civil charges.
     I need to find doctors, employees and patients who might be willing to say that the way I practiced medicine was an example of good medicine;  to say that basic testing, done to investigate symptoms or physical findings, is a good thing, a strategy for identifying diseases early, one that saves money in the long run, a way of putting preventive medicine into practice.  The government has no right (revised False Claims Act or not) to interfere in the doctor-patient relationship nor to decide whether or not a test was "necessary" or not.  Doing tests based on reported symptoms, or a doctor's educated, inferred judgments about the possibility disease in a patient is not fraud.
     I need employees who will say they stood by this philosophy of practice and felt good about it, that they were able to sleep at night knowing that if one of our patients had a serious disease, lurking beneath apparently benign symptoms, we weren't going to miss it;  employees who will say they liked being thorough and wanted a doctor who would, when they were sick, in pain or worried, do the same for them.  Employees who told other people about the practice and referred their family members when their doctors were stymied by complaints or unwilling to "do something" to allay patients' fears.
     Where will I find doctors who want to get anywhere close to my case, knowing the federal government is standing over me with a club?  Proximity means danger, in their eyes.  Maybe they tell themselves that if the government is after me I must have done something wrong.  A comforting rationalization, for now.
     Some of my most loyal employees have declined to come to my defense because they're afraid the feds will--as retribution, as payback, pretending it's all coincidental and entirely innocent--audit the last seven years of their tax returns, question their receipts, push them into corners, frighten and embarrass them, hold more sticks over their heads.  So imagine how practicing doctors might feel, solo doctors who need to work to pay their bills, who don't want interference.  If they spoke up, they would be right to expect the feds to come after them next.  Most of these doctors have already fielded audits,  accepted non-payment for their work, been the butts of insinuations, and they've gone through it uncomplainingly, because they want to stay out of the limelight.  Why enter my limelight?
     "I care about you and think it's a crime what they're doing," these people say, "but I don't want to get involved.  I just don't want to be involved."
     "Right," I answer.
     "You see what they're doing to you," they go on.
     "Yeah, I see."
     "Sorry," they say, patting my back.  "Good luck."
    There are lots of patients who benefited greatly by the early-diagnosis approach I took, and therefore would be willing to come forward.  Most of them have nothing to lose.  I'm sure they'll step up and say,  "She helped me with those tests, with the time she took."  I'm very grateful for their repeated exhortations that I call them "for anything, whatever you need," throughout this ordeal.  But will their statements alone move the judge, or make the prosecutors get out of the way?


  1. America is becoming a society of spectators.

    In nature, animals such as antelope survive by being members of herds. Being a member of a herd affords some safety. Roaming in large groups allows antelope to go about their individual daily lives. They are dependent upon the herd to give a warning that predators are nearby that each hopes will allow them to flee hidden by the others. But not all will escape. They have witnessed, time and again, the weakest of them being taken down and devoured . A time will come that they themselves will be the weakest.

    Humans were created to live on a higher level than antelope and hope is not a strategy.

    I pray that several people will overcome their fear in order to speak up for you.

  2. I go to a lot of baseball games. So I hear the national anthem a lot. I'm a patriot, but not a flag waver, so I'm not a huge fan of the civic piety forced on us during the singing of the Star Spangled Banner.

    But I have grown to love the final line of our national anthem:

    "Oh say does that Star Spangled Banner still wave o'er the land of the free, and the home of the brave?"

    I love it that the song realizes that freedom is linked to courage.

    And I also love that the song ends with a question. I realize that the song writer asked the question because he was afraid the British might win the War of 1812.

    But if you step back from that and take a broader perspective, the song is asking us, are we still a land that is filled with brave and free people? We need to ask ourselves this question all the time. You cannot assume freedom is an achievement that will automatically endure. It is more fragile than that. Freedom is an achievement that must be won anew by each generation, through courage.

    I'm not sure we're doing so well. I think we're a nation of cowards.