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A judge this week rejected an attempt by the state of California to temporarily ban Dr. Conrad Murray, the doctor charged with involuntary manslaughter in the death of Michael Jackson.

Now the ball is in the Medical Board of California’s court. The board rightly sought to use the criminal justice system first to stop Murray from practicing.

But few reporters picked up on the fact that the criminal system isn’t the only route.

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It wasn’t until four years after the first allegations were brought against Dr. Michael E. Stoddard in Colorado that the curtain was pulled back for the patients to see what had been happening on stage.

The scene that the Colorado Board of Medical Examiners’ final decision set, with Stoddard as the main player, was not pretty.

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In October, Antidote reported that Dr. John Eden, a well-respected Australian hormone researcher and the founder and director of the Sydney Menopause Centre, had second thoughts about his participation in a review article about hormone replacement therapy (HRT) that was written with the help of pharmaceutical giant Wyeth.

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When word hit the grapevine that the Madre Maria Ines Teresa Health Center in Santa Ana had prescription painkillers for the asking, the place couldn't keep them in stock.

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When your child dies because of mistakes made by a doctor, you can sue. Scott and Kathy Broussard did that when Dr. Andrew Rutland twisted their daughter Jillian Broussard's neck so severely that he separated her head from her spine. Most patients either lose in court or settle their cases. If they settle, they go silent. How many times have you called a patient's family to be told, "We can't talk under the terms of the settlement."? The Broussards settled their case, but that didn't stop them from talking.

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It was bad enough for Dr. Conrad Murray to be giving Michael Jackson propofol when he had no training administering anesthetics. His second mistake was using a dangerous drug in an improper setting: a bedroom.

Here was Murray’s surgical suite, according to the Los Angeles County Coroner’s report:

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The Medical Board of California broke its own rules and appointed a doctor who had been disciplined by the board to oversee the practice of an obstetrician now accused of negligence in a patient death.

Antidote reviewed records from both the medical board investigation and the criminal investigation into the care that Dr. Andrew Rutland gave a Chinese immigrant who died in his office in October 2009. The records underscore lapses in physician discipline that persisted years after scores of government and media investigations.

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Unless someone has had a bad experience with an insurance company, most people think of insurers as either benign or positive forces in their lives. It’s the president from “24” telling us in a deep, reassuring voice that we’ll be taken care of.

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UPDATE: Rutland will be allowed to continue practicing but cannot perform surgeries or deliveries after a judge's Jan. 7 decision. Here's the Orange County Register story.

 

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