Medical Licensing Changes Vowed After Botched Abortion Case > Michigan State Medical Society


Medical Licensing Changes Vowed After Botched Abortion Case

from MIS News Service 

A state licensing board that allowed a Muskegon physician to continue practicing despite allegedly botching abortions raised the ire of a Senate panel today, whose members vowed legislation to crack down on the "bad apples" in the profession. 

After listening to how the Board of Medicine repeatedly declined to investigate Dr. Robert ALEXANDER, despite a complaint filed by a fellow physician, Senate Judiciary Committee Rick JONES (R-Grand Ledge) shook his head. 

"Wow. Unbelievable . . . Unbelievable," he said. 

Jones told Carol ENGLE, director of Health Care Services with the Department of Licensing and Regulatory Affairs (LARA), that the Board of Medicine's inaction would spur legislation. 

For starters, the package he intends to craft with Sen. Tonya SCHUITMAKER (R-Lawton) would require more steps be taken to determine the criminal record of medical license holders and that more professionals be involved in the review process. Currently, license holders self-report any convictions they may have and the chair of a medical board, alone, can spike an investigation. 

In this situation in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee this afternoon, then-Board of Medicine Chair Dr. George SHADE declined to look into the complaint filed by Dr. Michael ENGEL, who said he treated at least 10 women who came to him with infections or bleeding after an Alexander abortion, according to a WOOD-TV report. 

Shade is a former mentor of Alexander, which raised conflict of interest questions. 

Jones and Schuitmaker spent the better part of an hour grilling the LARA official about how the state continued to allow Alexander to practice serious allegations the physician perforated a patient's uterus. 

The city of Muskegon shut Alexander down a few months ago due to unsanitary conditions within his clinic, WOOD-TV reported. 

But Judiciary Committee members took turns expressing disgust that the state allowed Alexander to keep operating. 

"To have a director advise me that the chair of the board doesn't want to reopen this case when it's obvious that horrendous malpractice or criminal activity has taken place, is amazing," Jones said. "I can't believe that someone doesn't want to look further into this." 

Carol Engle testified that she feels the process within LARA, in general, works. 

"In this particular case, I can't discuss specific cases, but I did send this case to the board chair and asked, 'Did we miss something? Should we investigate this case?' He wrote back to me, 'I don't believe this case should be investigated.'" 

The panel's lone Democrat, Sen. Steve BIEDA (D-Warren) said he was "horrified by what happened" in the case of the perforated uterus.  

"We need to do some changes here," Bieda said. "Something is broken." Jones asked Engle if she saw a problem with the fact that licensees are responsible for reporting their own convictions. 

"Yes," was her response. 

Engle added that she believes there should be a better system to find out about disciplinary actions, but that opening up the whole Public Health Code over it probably isn't the best idea. 

"In the vast majority of cases, the process works well," she said. "But if you have someone who isn't doing what they're supposed to do, no amount of legislation will fix it." 

Steve JAPINGA of the Michigan State Medical Society (MSMS) said the groups is concerned that the negative attention this has generated in the Grand Rapids area has cast doubt over the Board of Michigan and the medical profession, in general. 

He pledged to work with the committee in crafting the legislative package to re-establish a public trust with the Board of Medicaid and make sure the citizens of the state are safe. 


Posted in: MSMS in the News