Dr. Errol Wai-Ping at the Ajax-Pickering Hospital, a part of the Rouge Valley Health System, in Ontario, Canada harmed patents for years without anyone protecting future patients in response to the complaints about him, not even when he harmed a nurse who had enough access and understanding to communicate a clear picture of the problem.

It’s the same old story. Individual patients do not have the means to protect future patients until there finally are so many of them that they discover each other and form a group. A group can get a med mal lawyer. The med mal lawyer said that if the system misses problems as big and as obvious as this one, how can anyone imagine that it is protecting patients from smaller ones?

“There appears in this case to have been a significant failure of the system, currently in place, to protect the public,” said medical malpractice lawyer Paul Harte. “Regardless of the outcome of the class action, it is clear that significant changes to the regulatory system are required urgently.”

Why do people keep imagining that regulatory systems can be impartial and motivated enough to protect patients better than patients can protect themselves when given the right resources? We are glad when anyone recognizes that the current system is insensitive and dangerous, but the knee jerk response always seems to be to create regulations to force Draculas to be a better managers of blood banks.

Try creating a complaint mechanism that is not run by caregivers and that not only encourages patients to report, but that from time to time asks to see their records and then calls them up and asks questions in order to uncover what no one in medicine will report? That has to cost less than paying what it costs to take care of all those who will otherwise will become injured.

If you prefer watching TV reporting to reading about such cases, this case got the long, in depth TV coverage that is at this link:

Dr. Richard Austin

For a similar example in Ontario, this time in Scarborough, nearly 130 former patients of the gynecologist Dr. Richard Austin were filing suits against him for reasons not dissimilar to Dr. Wai-Ping. The College of Physicians and Surgeons thought everything was fine, but they don’t check to see. They wait for problems to be reported to them. New reporting laws have been passed requiring that the physicians report it when they commit crimes or become addicted or indulge in malpractice in some way. Sure, that will work. Because that is what criminals and addicts do, isn’t it? Report themselves.

Nowhere in medicine is it required that objective third parties (other caregivers are not third parties and are not objective) protect patients from physicians and nurses who commit crimes or become addicted or incompetent in some other way. As a rule people in medicine do not report other people in medicine. Careers are ended for doing that.

Currently patients cannot do this job in part because the mechanisms they would need to do it do not exist. Also, currently they get sued and/or blacklisted if they report such things.

No one pays attention to such reports from patients in the current system. There is no place patients can report such things to anyone who is on the side of patients – only to people with allegiances to caregivers. It discourages complaining and disempowers the complaints.

When more regulations on caregivers has been tried elsewhere, everyone in medicine was surprised to discover that problem caregivers don’t always report on themselves honestly. Could this mean that the well-being of patients isn’t always the first priority of people in medicine? Suggesting that results in indignant caregivers turning their backs and walking away.

I guess another generation or two of patients will have to be injured by caregivers who either are untrustworthy or incompetent before the Ontario College of Physicians and Surgeons, and others in power there and in other countries, figure out that people who are not well-meaning sometimes have licenses to practice medicine, and sometimes (98% of the time when things go wrong according the the US department of Health and Human Services) don’t report honestly.

Patients are going to have to pool their information and get this information for themselves because there is no political will to protect patients. The most anyone wants to do is pass some regulations that cannot match what patients can do for themselves if given the mechansims necessary to do it. But medicine will fight that. It doesn’t want to protect patients as much as it wants to protect itself.