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Doctors Behaving Badly: Doctor dinged twice by Missouri med board decries rising insurance costs

Doctors Behaving Badly: Doctor dinged twice by Missouri med board decries rising insurance costs

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Someone who runs a red light and is caught on one of those video cameras might expect their insurance premiums to rise.

Likewise, a doctor who has been disciplined by the state medical board or sued repeatedly might expect his malpractice insurance company to take note and adjust accordingly. You take risks. Your insurance company will make you pay more to cover those risks.

Consider this when you picture Dr. David Giem, a Missouri obstetrician, standing in front of the state capitol in Jefferson City, Missouri, surrounded by doctors angry about the cost of malpractice insurance.

As the Associated Press wrote:

Dr. David Giem has delivered about 1,500 babies during his 26 years practicing medicine in Sullivan. Now, Giem says, his practice is threatened by the cost of medical malpractice insurance.

In the past year alone, he says, his malpractice insurance premiums rose about 600 percent.

"Just the rate of increase is bigger than last year's pre-tax profits," he said.

Giem was among more than 500 white-coated doctors and medical students who flocked to the Capitol on Wednesday to urge lawmakers to curtail personal injury lawsuits, which they blame for their rising premiums.

What the AP failed to point out was that Giem had just finished three years of probation for, according to the Missouri Division of Professional Regulation, problems with his prescribing practices.

Insurers don't like it when you break the rules.

A few years after this rally, Giem was in trouble again. As Blythe Bernhard at The St. Louis Post-Dispatch wrote:

Giem in 2001 failed to perform an emergency C-section at Missouri Baptist Hospital in Sullivan when a pregnant woman's membranes ruptured during labor and the umbilical cord collapsed. The baby suffered brain hemorrhaging and was later diagnosed with severe cerebral palsy, according to board documents.

Giem said he has worked as a general surgeon and family physician in Sullivan since 1976 and has delivered 1,500 babies, including 300 C-sections. Giem said he was not alerted of distress in the woman's labor until it was too late to assemble an anesthesia and surgical team at the small hospital.

During his interview with Bernhard, who is a former California Endowment Health Journalism Fellow, Giem also found a way to work in his chief bugaboo:

Giem quit practicing obstetrics about five years ago because of the high costs of insurance. Since he already stopped delivering babies, it didn't make financial sense to fight the case with the state, Giem said.

This time, the board banned Giem from delivering babies, just in case the insurance rates ever dropped low enough for Giem to get back in the game.

All of this information is extremely hard to find. The Missouri board has a completely intuitive website that presents the veneer of total access. When you actually try to read any information about a doctor, though, you find that there is nothing to be found. For a doctor like Giem, who has been disciplined twice by the board, the public is given a sum total of 139 words.

Final question: Where are the doctors in their white coats standing outside the state capitol rallying for better information so that patients can make informed choices?

Here's a big "thank you" to Jenn Harris, who is working for Center for Health Journalism Digital in addition to her duties at The Los Angeles Times. She found Giem and is helping me as I continue this national tour of state medical boards. Those cute little pink doctors all over the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map? Those were her creation.

To see Giem on the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map, click here.

To request, contest or digress write me at askantidote [at] gmail [dot] com 



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This is terrible. I ask that you please take this down. David Giem was a good man who is now passed on. He was one of the most humble men I have met in my life. Please have a heart and take this down. If David said he "was not alerted of distress in the woman's labor until it was too late" then that is the truth. And as to him retiring. Well, he is an old fashioned man. The kind that would not tell anyone he was feeling ill. He had health problems that kept him from performing his job to the best of his ability - to which he retired - as to prevent hurting anyone. He is not like the other white coats out to make a huge profit. He just wanted to serve his fellow mankind. Thank you for your consideration on this matter. Chrystal


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