Tuesday, September 30, 2008

Illinois Medical Practices Act versus accountability

Standing up for yourself and making sure that you have received proper medical care and treatment is not about vindication. It is about having the self respect to demand that you be treated with respect and dignity.

As our country demonstrates its entitlement mentality as it relates to medical care, there is more of a need to demand accountability from physicians and surgeons. In the event our country adopts "universal health care" or some form thereof, a large quantity of physicians will be required. We must make sure that the quantity of physicians does not become more important than the quality.

And it is in that spirit that I (for the lack of a better word) hammer the issue of disciplining Carle Clinic Association orthopedic surgeon Chris J. Dangles, M.D. We simply cannot allow state agencies to cover and protect physicians instead of mandating accountability.

To me, Dr. Chris Dangles is a symbol of what our country accepts in terms of quality of medical care.

So, let's review the actual language of the Illinois Medical Practices Act and the possible violations by Dr. Dangles that the state of Illinois ignores.

225 ILCS 60/1

S e c . 2 2 . Disciplinary action.

( A ) The Department may revoke , suspend , place on probationary status ,
refuse to renew , or take any other disciplinary action as the Department may deem proper with regard to the license or visiting professor permit of any person issued under this Act to practice medicine , or to treat human ailments without the use of drugs and without operative surgery upon any of the following grounds:

Paragraph (A)(4)

Gross negligence in practice under this Act.

Dr. Dangles performed unnecessary surgery on my ankle. If there was any doubt, Dr. Dangles testified that he did not ever watch me walk (either before or after multiple ankle surgeries), he did not ask me the circumstances surrounding my post-surgical falls and (last but not least), Dr. Dangles testified that he did not know why he performed surgery on my ankle . . . I talked him into believing that having surgery was in my best interests!

Paragraph (A)(10)
Making a false or misleading statement regarding their skill or the efficacy or value of the medicine, treatment , or remedy prescribed by them at their
direction in the treatment of any disease or other condition of the body or mind.

Dr. Dangles made a false and misleading statement regarding his skill. Dr. Dangles told me (in front of witnesses) that (Dr. Robert Gurtler) a surgeon who advised me against the surgery simply did not know how to do the surgery and that was why Dr. Gurtler advised against it. Dr. Dangles held himself out to be the “ankle guy” at Carle Clinic Association in Urbana, Illinois. However, now, Dr. Dangles does not list “ankles” as an area of surgical interest (Thank goodness.)

Dr. Dangles made a false statement regarding the value of the surgery on my ankles. Dr. Dangles stated that tightening the lateral ligaments in my ankles would prevent me from ever spraining my ankle.

Paragraph (A)(16)
Abandonment of a patient.

After three (3) failed surgeries, Dr. Dangles opined that the reason for the failures must be that I suffered from a collagen disorder. Dr. Dangles arranged for me to be tested for “Ehlers Danlos Syndrom.” Dr. Dangles told me that if the test was positive then we would re-do the procedures with a cadaver ligament.

Dr. Dangles told me that he would figure out a plan if I tested negative. I tested negative for EDS. Dr. Dangles never contacted me again.

Since I was a member of Health Alliance Medical Plans (HAMP) health insurance, I could not get a second opinion without Dr. Dangles’ referral.

HAMP is an HMO that wholly owned by Carle Clinic Association physicians. (Kinda makes it doubtful that I would get referred out to a non-Carle Clinic Association facility because that would effect Dr. Dangles’ pocketbook.)

Paragraph (A)(26)
A patter of practice or other behavior which demonstrates incapacity or incompetence to practice under this Act.

Dr. Dangles treated me from October 2000 until he abandoned me sometime in May 2002. The time-frame of one and one-half years demonstrates a pattern as opposed to an isolated issue of clinical judgment.

Paragraph (A)(30)
Wilfully or negligently violating the confidentiality between physicians and patient except as required by law.

Dr. Dangles violated the federal HIPAA statute sometime in 2006 (or perhaps earlier). Dr. Dangles obtained and then inappropriately provided my mental health records to others outside of Carle Clinic Association. He gave the records to his medical malpractice defense attorneys in order to establish a defense against the allegations.

There is no dispute that Dr. Dangles provided my mental health records to his defense attorneys (without my permission or authorization). There were multiple hearings in Champaign County Circuit Court regarding whether the records could be used in court. Oddly, no one ever questioned how Dr. Dangles ever obtained the records.

Dr. Dangles gave my mental health records to his attorneys while I was fighting cancer in another state. Perhaps Dr. Dangles thought that I would not notice or I would be too preoccupied with cancer to dispute the disclosure.

Dr. Dangles misjudged me. I want to make sure that he does not take advantage of any other patient who undergoes treatment for depression. Especially when that treatment takes place because they are surviving the pain and inability to ambulate associated with multiple orthopedic surgeries.

Now, what about the issue of “Statute of Limitations” on Dr. Dangles' actions (including his deposition testimony acknowledging error)?

Except for the grounds numbered ( 8 ), ( 9 ), ( 2 6 ), and ( 2 9 ), no actions shall be commenced more than 10 years after the date of the incident or act alleged to have violated this Section.

For actions involving the ground numbered ( 2 6 ), a pattern of practice or other behavior includes all incidents alleged to be part of the pattern of practice or other behavior that occurred or a report pursuant to Section 23 of this Act received within the 10 years period preceding the filing of he complaint.

Okay. What a minute. What? In August 2008, Steve Wagee from the Medical Board (Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility) specifically told me that “we cannot do anything about Dr. Dangles because more than four years have passed.”

STOP. There must be protection for the patients in Illinois.

Those of us who are physically and mentally strong enough to speak out for accountability in the medical community are obligated to speak loudly so that the weakest and most vulnerable among us are "heard" and hopefully protected.

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