Petition to reinstate the medical license of Alan Schwartz, M.D.& to encourage the California State Medical Board to treat alternative medicine doctors and their practices justly.
September 22, 2008
To: Governor Arnold Schwartzenegger: www.gov.ca.gov
Senator Diane Feinstein: www.feinstein.senate.gov
Senator Barbara Boxer:
Attorney General Edmund G. Brown, Jr. www.ag.ca.gov
As citizens of the state of California we are dismayed by the arbitrary and often biased manner in which the Medical Board of California and the associated Administrative Law Judges and prodescuting atttorneys have evaluated and treated complementary and alternative health care providers.
Many good physicians have had their licenses revoked unjustly, like Dr. Alan Schwartz and Dr. Robert Sinaiko. others, like Dr. David Steenblock, actually were jailed for a time.
Fortunately, Dr. Steenblock was eventually pardoned by the Governor of the State of California and was able to resume his practice. Dr. Sinaiko was able to win his license back on appeal when the Court admitted that they had erred in excluding the testimony of the many credible witnesses who backed his approach, but, unfortunatley it took almost 13 yeasr after the initial accusation for that to happen.
Even the California Medical Association, which represents physicians who are almost entirely allopathic (conventional) in their apporach to medicine, was shocked at Judge Ruth Astle's findings in the Dr. Sinaiko case, and in a "blistering" 15-page Amicus Curiae brief they noted that "The written decision of the ALJ in this case raises serious concerns about the overall fairness and efficacy of the medical disciplinary hearing process."
Dr. Schwartz is still awaiting his appeal hearing and decision. His rebuttal to the charges levied against him appears on this website (see "Medical Board Malfeasance").
There were no patient complaints that caused these charges to be levied against Dr. Schwartz. The twp physicians who testified against him were not experts in autism, and one of them was clearly biased and made many false statements. As in the case of Dr. Sinaiko, the Administrative Law Judge (Daniel Juarez) at Dr. Schwartz's hearing disregarded the testimony of his expert witness.
When charges are levied against a physician, and the charges are made public on the Internet and in local newspapers before the physician has had any chance to defend himself in court, his practice is generally ruined. A reputation takes a long time to build, but it can be destroyed in a day.
In this country we are supposed to be held innocent until prven guilty, but trial by newspaper and Internet often negates that ideal. The legal fees required to defend oneself against the Medical Board are enormous, especially if one intends on appealing an unjust decision. 80% of physicians so accused simply surrender thier license rather than take on the huge financial burden that a good defense requires.
The Medical Baords in the various states have been assigned the task of licensing physicians and other health care providersand of disciplinig those who have violated laws or transgressed from accepted standards of care in their practice of mediciane. Some providers are themselves impaired due to illness, alcohol abuse or drugs.
A means to monitor and discipline these providers is certainly necessary, and the Medical Board system with its panel of Administrative Law Judges and prosecuting attorneys was set up to fulfill this task. However, some Medical Boards, Administrative Law Judges and prosecuting attorneys have abused their power by improperly disciplining physicians for simply practicing non-traditional approaches to health care.
Why the Medical Boards do this, and the consequences of their doing this, have major implications, not only for the physicians so disiplined, but for all citizens of the United States, because this is really an attempt to criminalize complementary, alternative and holistic approaches to healing and prevention of disease, which are generally safer, often better documented and more effective than the methods employed by "conventional" (allopathic) practitioners.
The dangers implicit in these unfair Medical Baord decisions are that any doctor may face possible ruin if her or she practices in an innovative way, even if (as in the case of Drs. Sinaiko and Schwartz) there has been no harm done to anyone. An even more dire consequence is that "medical freedom and creativity, vital to progress in medicine, will be suppressed". [Atty for Dr. Sinaiko]
As a former attorney general for the Medical Board said: "I can do a random audit of any doctor's charts, gather around my team of so-called experts, and pick apart (with 20-20 hindsight) the impressions, the diagnoses, the treatment, the charting, and then attach legal words to it: negligence, incompetence, extreme departure from the standard of care, a standard which, of course, all my experts would know and claim for themselves. Who among us could weather such an audit? I can get any doctor's license by this technique...because you can always find doctors who will disagree with another doctor's conclusion, techniques (and) his style."
The "standard of care" by which health practitioners are judged needs to be broadened to encompass the disciplines of complementary/alternative medicine.
We, the signers of this petition, have been acquainted with Dr. Schwartz either as patients or coworkers, and we find Dr. Schwartz to be a highly competent, ethical, kind and compassionate practitioner and would beg and encourage the Medical Board to reinstate his license and to treat all so-called "alternative practitioners" with a less jaundiced eye.
Most respectfully yours,