"The Guam Board of Medical Examiners is a prime example of how we, the consumer, get screwed, coming and going and the legislature just keeps reappointing to the boards the same characters, even with negative consumer input. What is the pay off in all of this for senators, as it is not benefitting consumers of health care."
By David Lubofsky
It gets to a point within the medical community, as a consumer or patient, where one must ask for a reality check. This is how I feel looking at the Guam licensing boards, but especially the Guam Board of Medical Examiners (GBME) who are supposed to protect the people of Guam from doctor’s medical care that falls below the established standards of care. Protecting the public is clearly stated on their website.
I cannot forget the words of Dr Stanley Yasuhiro at the Guam Legislature during an information hearing, when he said that resolving issues of Medical Negligence and the need for the Medical Malpractice Arbitration Act would not be as big of a problem if the licensing boards did a better job and were impartial. Senator Therese Terlaje responded by saying his testimony was a breath of fresh air. I must agree. The issue though, still up to now, in my opinion and experiences, is that the boards are not impartial, especially the GBME.
The Guam legislature knows that the people of Guam have no protection from medical negligence because of the Mandatory Malpractice Arbitration Act. The legislature then allows the next level of protecting the public through the licensing boards, who license these medical professionals, to also run amok without adequate oversight of what these boards are doing and taking an apathetic view of patient or consumer protection on Guam. Does anyone really think that the Guam Legislature cares about patient consumer protection? I do not.
The Guam Board of Medical Examiners is a prime example of how we, the consumer, get screwed, coming and going and the legislature just keeps reappointing to the boards the same characters, even with negative consumer input. What is the pay off in all of this for senators, as it is not benefitting consumers of health care.
Can someone explain to me, how a board that clearly states on their website that part of their mission is to protect the public, but under its chairman, Dr. Nathaniel Berg, has not once decided any complaint for a patient against a doctor? They have had around 25 complaints over the last few years. It is statistically impossible that not one favored a patient.
How can the GBME protect the public when during testimony at the legislature, Dr. Nathaniel Berg, the chair, walked out before victims of medical negligence gave their testimony? Isn’t it his job to listen to the public if his mission is to protect the public? Watching Berg walk out of the session hall while victims of medical negligence sat and were getting ready to give testimony speaks volumes of how the Guam Board of Medical Examiners views the people they are supposed to protect.
How can the GBME protect the public if they refuse to meet with victims of medical negligence or interview them during an investigation and only speak to the doctors? How we can we trust them when they do not fully read and respond to the written complaint forms? How can they protect the public when they, under Dr. Nathaniel Berg, do not recuse themselves, when investigating complaints, due to their apparent clear conflicts of interest? Dr Berg assured senators they do recuse themselves. How many times has that happened?
How do they protect the public, when they do not release their investigation results to victims and instead release it to the Pacific Daily News for the victim’s family to read the results first in the paper, even in the death of a 5-year-old? Think about that, investigates the death of a 5-year-old, but does not tell the family the results of their investigation, but puts it in the newspaper first. This unfettered arrogance stuns me, and they think it is appropriate or are so far out of touch with empathy and ethics that they have become blinded to the needs of the people of Guam and what their mission is. Or simpler, common decency, would be to discuss results with a grieving family or an injured victim first, not publish it.
How can we trust the GBME when we feel they are not impartial and if we dare go to complain about how they investigated, their lawyer is quick to point out, SORRY YOU CAN NOT ASK FOR AN APPEAL?
How can we trust this board to protect the public when its chair, Nathaniel Berg and other members advocate for a law, the Mandatory Medical Malpractice Arbitration Act (MMMAA), that protects doctors when they kill or injure us at the expense of patients and even apparently going behind the scenes to speak to senators to not change laws, so doctors are still protected, and consumers and patients are not? Isn’t this a conflict of interest? The chair of GBME is tasked to protect the public, but advocates for laws that do just the opposite, but at the same time protects himself.
How can we trust this board, when the chair, Dr. Berg is the director of a big clinic that is expanding, and his conflict of interest could be to keep costs low and income high? How can he oversee patient complaints and be a director of a clinic that depends on and survives off patient referrals from the very doctors or other clinics that he may have to investigate?
How can we trust the GBME when they require women, victims of sexual misconduct by a doctor, to submit their personal medical records and to meet with a psychologist to validate their accusations? Is that done anywhere else in the country to any other victims? Or is it only done to protect the Guam doctors under the GBME? As a former therapist and per what my friends who are Guam therapist said, it re-victimizes these women and will prevent other victims from coming forth. Is that the goal?
How can we trust the GBME when the chair, Dr. Berg, stated that we should ignore a tragic event or the death of my son Asher, and keep the laws that benefit him as is, so air traffic controllers will continue to come to Guam? Yes, its weird, but he said it. I wonder if those Air Traffic Controllers know that if medical negligence happens to their loved ones, to their children, they are not protected, thanks to the same law that Dr. Nathaniel Berg advocates for so that they will come to Guam.
How can we trust the GBME when they refuse to follow a law that has been on the books for years to give access to doctor information online off their website for patient awareness? Why are they getting away with this? Is it more protection of doctors over consumers?
How can we trust the GBME when it appeared that they spent more time discussing Dr. Akimoto and his use of questionable language than they did the death of my 5-year-old or other real victim complaints that they have? What was that about? They do not even have jurisdiction over Dr. Akimoto. Shame on them.
How can we trust the GBME when they continue to license doctors to work on Guam who have histories of malpractice or misconduct allegations, some of which have then come to Guam and repeated the same thing here? Malpractice is a serial medical negligence event, with one percent of doctors committing 32 percent of medical negligence malpractice. So, those with histories of hurting patients from off island are licensed by the GBME, brought here and are much more likely to do the same thing on Guam.
It is time for the Guam legislature to make these licensing boards's mission focused and impartial. They should remove people with conflicts of interest, such as Dr. Nathaniel Berg and other members of these so-called boards that are tasked to protect the public, so the people of Guam are truly protected in actions not shallow words. This will improve medical care on Guam by realistically holding doctors responsible for complaints against them that the GBME now receive and apparently only gives lip service to.
Please Guam legislature, your excuses and non-action to remove laws that allow doctors to kill or injure us should be met with the same vigor to make these boards step up and protect us. Are you benefiting from the status quo, as it sure seems that way?
Proud Father of Asher Dean Lubofsky