Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick nominated wife of major med-mal lawyer to oversee doctor discipline

Last September, Massachusetts Governor Patrick nominated Kathleen Meyer to fill a Board of Registration in Medicine position that oversees doctor discipline.  This of course wouldn’t be an issue a majority of the time, but Kathleen is married to Andrew Meyer.  Andrew is one of the state’s leading medical malpractice plaintiff attorneys, and this is seen by many in the health care sector as a conflict of interest. We could maybe see some wiggle room if the lawfirm Lubin & Meyer also did some defense work, but this doesn’t appear to be the case when reviewing the med-mal portion of their website.

Doctors, healthcare professionals, medical societies and a host of others have written the Governor to try and get Kathleen’s name removed as a possible replacement on the Board.  One of the letters, written by Richard V. Aghababian, the President of the Massachusetts Medical Society, makes a strong case as to why she shouldn’t be on the board:

The potential for conflicts of interest are obvious. We’re deeply concerned about her impartiality in cases that reach the board, as well as her possible early access to unvetted complaints filed by patients against physicians – patients who could be clients of Lubin and Meyer and other malpractice firms.

But simply recusing herself from problematic cases wouldn’t solve the entire problem. She is in a position to strongly influence the discussion and implementation of many important public policy issues, most of which would affect or even benefit Lubin and Meyer, both directly and indirectly.

We hope the Governor reconsiders this and take a different course of action.  There is always a chance that Mrs. Meyers will be impartial, but is this the right time to take that chance?  Healthcare is going through a major over-haul and people in this sector are worried about almost everything.  Doctors are concerned that The Affordable Care Act is going to not only erode the doctor/patient relationship, but is going to reduce the amount of money they receive for a majority of the work they do.  Healthcare organizations are being purchased at a rapid rate………we are starting to see more and more parts of the country suffer from doctor and nurse shortages.  Is this the right time to toss another log on the fire?

We know our Massachusetts doctors want to do the best for their patients.  However, when they see the Governor putting someone directly tied to a medical malpractice plaintiff law firm that goes after them into a position that oversees the licensure of physicians, this doesn’t seem the like the best idea.  We’d like to hear from our Massachusetts doctors, what is your take on this?

Medical malpractice insurance in Massachusetts already costs a lot, there’s no reason for doctors to think they are going to have an “enemy” sitting in front of them when they have discipline issues.