CBC’s “The Fifth Estate” tackles doctor/patient boundaries

Yesterday, the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation finally telecast an investigative report on their esteemed series “The Fifth Estate” about doctors who cross the line with their patients.

Titled “Doctors Without Boundaries,” its premise is: When doctors are accused of crossing ethical or legal boundaries with their female patients, why does it take so long for authorities to protect the public – if they act at all? An investigation by Bob McKeown.

The video is available on this link: http://www.cbc.ca/player/play/2682489042/

If due to some reason, CBC shows cannot be live-streamed in your country, you can watch the report on youtube here:

About time the CBC – which had a few internal scandals of various kinds over the years, most famously its shocking Jian Ghomeshi scandal – aired a report like this.

For what its worth, this blog had once questioned why the Fifth Estate hadn’t already done so – i.e. an investigative report on doctors who cross ethical and legal boundaries such as Levin.

Good work, CBC. Greatly appreciated. Better late than never.

One of the doctors profiled in the documentary is sleazy psychiatrist Stanley Debrowolski. Details from his case can also be read here: http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2015/11/30/psychiatrists-decades-of-sex-transgressions-over.html

Another “dirty doc” is psychiatrist Ravi Shenava. http://www.thestar.com/news/canada/2016/01/21/us-psychiatrist-faces-criminal-sex-assault-charges-in-canada-cbc-reports.html

Also featured is Dr. Patrick Nesbitt, who was unethical and abusive toward both his female patients and his wife. http://www.cbc.ca/news/canada/doctor-faces-criminal-charges-patrick-nesbitt-1.3413645

A must-see documentary. Viewer discretion advised.

Last week, another strange case of a prominent doctor crossing lines was reported in several newspapers in New York. The case of David Newman MD, a highly respected doctor who was accused of ejaculating into the mouth of his semi-conscious female patient. Here are two reports from the New York Times:

“E.R. Doctor at Mt. Sinai Hospital Charged With Sexual Abuse of 2 Patients” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/20/nyregion/er-doctor-at-mt-sinai-hospital-charged-with-sexual-abuse-of-2-patients.html

“A prominent emergency room doctor at Mount Sinai Hospital in Manhattan was arrested on Tuesday and accused of drugging, groping and masturbating on a female patient and groping another in separate episodes several months apart, the authorities said. The charges against the doctor, David H. Newman, 45, a proponent of reforms in emergency care who has written widely about improving doctor-patient relationships, describe him targeting young women for abuse when they sought medical treatment.”

And, this:

“Colleagues Express Disbelief Over Arrest of Doctor With Picture-Perfect Life” http://www.nytimes.com/2016/01/21/nyregion/colleagues-express-disbelief-over-arrest-of-doctor-with-picture-perfect-life.html

“Dr. David H. Newman seemed to have it all: an impressive post in emergency medicine at Mount Sinai Hospital, a prominent and growing public presence as an expert in health care reform, a wife who is a doctor, two young sons, and a gracious home in the New Jersey suburbs. So when he was arrested on Tuesday and charged with sexually abusing two patients under his care in the emergency room, the reaction from his wide circle of colleagues was disbelief.”




White Coat Black Art – a new show on medical whistleblowers

Season Premiere: Blowing the Whistle on Bad Medicine

White Coat Black Art is a new show on CBC Radio 1 hosted by Dr. Brian Goldman, exposing what happens when insiders whistle-blow on serious crimes, corruption, scandals, inefficiencies, negligence and unethical practices in the close-knit medical community and profession.

Details on the show are here: http://www.cbc.ca/whitecoat/2013/09/06/blowing-the-whistle-on-bad-medicine/

The audio clip of the premiere show is here:


I highly recommend you listen to it. Extremely telling. Very eye-opening.



Bradley Manning, Julian Assange, Edward Snowden – just a few of the high profile whistle blowers generating headlines in 2013 – which is shaping up as the Year of the Whistle Blower. But who is stepping up and speaking out in health care? As detailed in the season premiere of White Coat, Black Art they are few and far between. As you’ll hear, it’s a difficult road for health care workers to do what’s right, when things go wrong. One young resident tells Dr. Goldman that his name was blackened, his sanity questioned and his career very nearly imploded when he spoke up about a medical mistake.  We’ll also hear from BC doctor Robert Crossland, who says he was run out of town thanks to a kind of “economic terrorism” he faced when he outed some colleagues for bad behaviour. Later in his career he went public with concerns about cuts to the B-C coroner’s service only to have them swept aside with serious consequences, as detailed in this CBC report.

And when push comes to shove and a patient needs a whistle blower to help out their court case – who they gonna call? Medical malpractice lawyer Amani Oakley says, don’t bother calling at all because no one is willing to take the risk of ruining a colleague’s career and hospitals will hide behind privacy legislation.
That left us asking, where does that leave us when it comes to patient safety and protection?
We look to the experience of the United Kingdom, which is still dealing with the fallout from a widespread scandal that saw doctors and patients blow the whistle on negligence  that led to 1200 deaths at Stafford Hospital.  The scandal led British Prime Minister David Cameron to apologize in the House of Commons last February.  And as British lawyer and journalist Andrew Bousfield  (who also runs a website for whistle blowers) told Brian, it it also led the government to appoint that nation’s first Chief Inspector of Hospitals — aka a  “whistle blower-in-chief.”
Once you hear the show, maybe we’ll hear from you?  If you have a comment or your own whistle to blow on the health care system, let us know – email us at whitecoat@cbc.ca or leave us a message at  1-866-648-6714.  
– The above script is from the webpage of the show. Once again, do listen to the show on the audio clip: HERE. Revealing interviews, pertinent questions and good analyses. The UK website of medical whistle-blowers mentioned on the show is: http://medicalharm.org/