Friday, August 22, 2008

Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility protects "bad doctors"

News Alert:
There continues to be chaos in the realm of doctor discipline in Illinois

This morning (Friday 08-22-2008) I was in my dad's hospital room at Duke Medical North. While there working with an incredible staff of Duke nurses, physicians and surgeons, I received a telephone call from Steve Wagy with the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR).

It seems as though Dr. Dangles' financial contributions, and lobbying/political efforts in Illinois have proven worthwhile in terms of the state of Illinois' intention to hold Dr. Chris Dangles accountable for his (according to the IDFPR) "unsatisfactory outcome." That "unsatisfactory outcome" is the IDFPR's description of Dr. Dangles' medical care and treatment of me (including 3 unnecessary surgeries and abandonment).

1. According to Mr. Wagy of the IDFPR, there is a 4 year statute of limitations for a disciplinary grievance to be brought against a physician or surgeon in Illinois. Mind you, this is not a medical malpractice lawsuit. We are talking about professional discipline against a doctor. Unlike a civil medical malpractice case, there is no "discovery rule" that applies to complaints against an Illinois physician for violation of the Medical Practice Act. In other words, the clock for the statute of limitations does not toll while the patient is genuinely unaware of the violation of the act. The SOL clock starts running at the time of the alleged injury or violation.

2. I initially contacted the IDFPR in Fall 2006. I signed medical records releases for the IDFPR to obtain medical records from Carle Clinic Association (where Dr. Chris Dangles works) and Duke University Medical Center (where the phenomenal surgeons who corrected Dr. Dangles' errors work).

3. Mr Wagy informed me that IDFPR Investigator Deborah Grant interviewed Dr. Dangles on 12-06-2006. But I was never interviewed either before or after the 12-06-2006 interview with Dr. Dangles.

Generally, I am not envious of bugs. However, I would have loved to be a fly in the room during that interview.

4. In early 01-2007, Dr. Dangles testified under oath (in a discovery deposition in a civil matter) that

a. Dr. Chris Dangles did not know why he performed ankle surgery on the patient;

b. Dr. Dangles' staff begged him to reconsider performing the surgery and even told Dr. Dangles "why are you doing this to us"? Dr. Dangles testified that he responded to his staff that he did not know why the patient even wanted the surgery but the patient was moderately emotional and convinced Dr. Dangles to perform the surgery. Since Dr. Dangles does not know why he did the surgery and Dr. Dangles testified that the patient convinced him to perform the surgery, the logical conclusion is that the surgery was unnecessary;

c. Dr. Dangles never watched the patient walk (despite the fact he performed 3 ankle surgeries and the patient reported difficulty with balance and repeat falls);

d. Dr. Dangles never asked the patient about the mechanics or circumstances surrounding any of the patients reported falls.

e. Dr. Dangles testified that the patient may have fallen because of an alcohol problem or the combination of prescription drugs (medication for depression and pain medications). Dr. Dangles never charted any of these alleged concerns in the medical records;

f. Contrary to the medical standard of care, Dr. Dangles never ordered physical therapy for the patient at any time before, during or after the 3 ankle surgeries;

g. Dr. Dangles did not know what to do to help the patient after the 3 surgeries failed and he did not refer the patient for a second opinion;

h. When asked to answer under oath whether any of his patients ever filed a grievance about him to the IDFPR, Dr. Dangles lied and said "no." But, in fact, there was at least one grievance filed against Dr. Dangles by his former patient, CH. One month prior to the sworn testimony, Dr. Dangles was interviewed by IDFRP investigator Deborah Grant.

And, most fundamentally, Dr. Dangles testified about his (mis)treatment of the patient during the period of active investigation by the IDFPR. The IDFPR should have reasonably known that Dr. Dangles was giving his sworn deposition testimony during the course of the disciplinary investigation.

Based upon my discussion with Mr. Wagy with IDFPR today, the Department was unaware that Dr. Dangles made such self-incriminating statements during the deposition. In fact, today, the IDFPR characterized Dr. Dangles' sworn statements regarding his care and treatment of the patient as "of concern." But, since Dr. Dangles' sworn statement did not directly relate to medical care and treatment of the patient, the IDFPR was unable to act on the "of concern" statements.

5. The IDFPR closed the case against Dr. Chris Dangles in March 2007. I found out months later and only because I inquired.

6. I do not know what Dr. Dangles told the IDFPR investigator in 12-2006. But I do know what Dr. Dangles told the attorneys in a sworn deposition in 01-2007.

7. Either Dr. Dangles communicated the facts to Investigator Deborah Grant precisely as he swore to the facts in 01-2007. In that case, the IDFPR may tell me that the sworn statement is "of concern" but, in reality, the statements described in Item 4 a-g above are not significant or of concern . . . or . . . Dr. Dangles lied to Investigator Deborah Grant when she interviewed him in 12-2006.

8. Surprising (okay, not really), the IDFPR never contacted the Duke University Medical orthopedic surgeon who repaired me after Dr. Dangles injured me. In fact, Steve Wagy (IDFPR) told me today that the Department rarely contacts subsequent treating physicians after there has been a bad surgical outcome. The Department just relies on the surgeon that is the subject of the investigation for information. Huh?

9. Steve Wagy (IDFPR) told me that Dr. Dangles could not be disciplined because 4 years had passed since the medical care and treatment.

10. Steve Wagy (IDFPR) told me that Dr. Dangles' sworn statements in 01-2007 did not matter to Department because the statements were not made during his actual care and treatment of me.

11. Steve Wagy (IDFPR) told me that they hope Dr. Dangles does not hurt or kill any patient.

So, the question remains - Who exactly is protecting the patients against bad doctors in Illinois?

Why is there a statute of limitations for doctor discipline? If there is a SOL, why isn't there a discovery rule?

Why aren't the physician's conflicting statements made during the course of a disciplinary investigation relevant?

Where did Dr. Dangles and Investigator Deborah Grant "meet for lunch, dinner or drinks" on 12-06-2006? After the interview, Dr. Dangles clearly felt invincible enough to speak freely in 01-2007. That must be a great restaurant.

Too bad that the average Illinois citizen cannot get reservations.

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