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Double standard in how board holds doctors accountable

The Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine made a very public example of Dr. Gary Brockington, saying it has “zero tolerance” for sexual misconduct between a physician and a patient (“Board revokes Faulkner cardiologist’s license after affair,” Metro, Nov. 24). Unfortunately, the board lacks this seemingly righteous indignation when it comes to physicians whose misconduct harms and injures patients and their families.

The board of seven members, five of whom are physicians themselves, is a self-governing body appointed by the governor to serve the public by ensuring that only qualified physicians are practicing medicine. In keeping with its mission, this board should employ the same standard it used in judging and disciplining Brockington when a physician has been found guilty of malpractice by a jury in a court of law, especially when this information is a matter of public record.

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However, the board believes there is no distinction of merit between a malpractice settlement and a malpractice guilty verdict, which happens in fewer than 2 percent of medical malpractice cases in Massachusetts. The rarity of plaintiff verdicts speaks to the gravity of the doctors’ wrongdoing and the damages suffered. Yet the board refuses to disclose this information on its consumer website of physician profiles.

Perhaps the board should be less concerned with what happens in the bedroom between two consenting adults and more concerned with what happens in the operating room.

Denyse Richter

Hampton, N.H.

The writer was the plaintiff in a 2008 malpractice case.

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