Monday, September 8, 2008

When does a doctor testifying constitute "practicing medicine"?

I had an appointment today with an anesthesiologist (surgical pain management). Evidently the adventure in orthopedics that began in November 2000 with Dr. Chris Dangles' decision to operate on my ankle has caused permanent damage to my entire leg.

I am scheduled to have surgical pain management identify the trouble and anesthetize the damaged nerves. Then, the only way to stop the pain and disability is to actually cut the nerves in the leg. Good news - I will feel no pain from Dr. Chris Dangles' surgeries. Bad news - I will lose all feeling in the leg.

I am also scheduled to return to the orthopedic surgeon next week. Dr. Dangles' apparently changed the anatomy of my legs. Now there is knee damage. I expect to schedule arthroscopic surgery to repair the knee.

The fact that I am looking at additional surgeries (all stemming from Dr. Chris Dangles' initial surgeries) causes me to re-visit the physician discipline issue.

Okay. Now here is where I am stuck:

1. If (according to the American Medical Association - AMA) a physician is practicing medicine when he testifies against another physician, then why is a physician not practicing medicine when he testifies about his care and treatment of one of his patient?

2. Why is the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation (IDFPR) bending themselves into a pretzel to protect Dr. Chris Dangles (Carle Clinic Association in Urbana, Illinois)? Even the IDFPR acknowledged that Dr. Dangles' testimony about his care and treatment of me was "of concern." Who protects the patients in Illinois?

I may not be a genius. But, I took logic in college.

1. The AMA maintains that a physician who testifies against another physician is practicing medicine when they give the testimony.

2. The IDFPR told me that there is a four (4) year statute of limitations on physician discipline. In other words, if a doctor can avoid discipline for four (4) years then he or she is home free. Unlike the American legal system, the IDFPR does not care when the patient learned or became suspicious that the doctor may have acted wrongly (i.e. "discover rule").

2. In September 2006, I informed the IDFPR that Dr. Chris Dangles acted wrongly and violated the Medical Practices Act in his care and treatment of me.

3. In December 2006, the IDFPR interviewed Dr. Chris Dangles of Carle Clinic Association (Urbana, Illinois). The IDFPR advised me that they did not interview the current treating surgeons (that corrected Dr. Dangles' errors) because doing so would "muddy the waters."

4. In January 2007, Dr. Chris Dangles testified in the related civil matter. Among other horrifying statements, Dr. Dangles testified (a) he did not know why I wanted the orthopedic surgery and (b) he suspected that I fell down after the ankle surgeries because I had an alcohol problem!

5. In April 2007, the IDFPR determined that Dr. Chris Dangles did nothing wrong in the care and treatment of me. If course, as of that date, the IDFPR had no knowledge of Dr. Dangles' testimony regarding his care and treatment of me.

6. In August 2008, I spoke with the IDFPR about Dr. Chris Dangles' January 2007 testimony about his care and treatment of me. The IDFPR told me that the testimony was "of concern" to them. However, the IDFPR could not discipline Dr. Chris Dangles because the four (4) year statute of limitations had passed and the testimony did not technically constitute "care and treatment" of me.


There must be consistency. If a physician practices medicine when he testifies against a physician then the physician should likewise be practicing medicine when he testifies about his care and treatment of his patient. In fact, the latter seems closer to "practicing medicine" than the former. But, if the IDFPR accepted that testifying about care and treatment constitutes "practicing medicine," then they might have to discipline orthopedic surgeon Dr. Chris Dangles.

The AMA's logic on this topic of "when does testifying constitute practicing medicine" is clearly articulated to protect doctors and ignore patients.

I will have plenty of time to flush this out while I recuperate from orthopedic surgeries.

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