A serious problem with the Medical Board of California is that the Board releases shocking and deeply personal information about physicians in California, regardless of whether or not the public really needs to know that information. A doctor can have his license to practice revoked, and his private medical information will still be available on the internet. Does the Board not realize that their website reads like a trashy gossip column?
In the OC Weekly article that prompted this series, the coverage of the doctor who lost her license reads like a celebrity gossip column. But it’s easy to understand why it was covered in that way, because that’s exactly how the Board discusses doctors suffering from mental illnesses. The doctor covered in the article is not a public figure, but the Board treats her private medical information like it’s gossip about Caitlyn Jenner’s transition.
It might be time for the Board to understand exactly how they sound when describing the most vulnerable of physicians in California. To offer some perspective, this column will demonstrate exactly what it sounds like when the Board shares highly sensitive information about the physicians they come into contact with.
These are all real quotes from documents on the Medical Board of California’s website, and they are followed by how the columnist thinks the average patient will translate the information. This first set of quotes is about a woman who had her license to practice revoked:
1. The Board declares “she suffers from kleptomania along with bulimia nervosa.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: The doctor steals like a maniac and makes herself throw up.
2. “Respondent admitted to getting a ‘quick fix’ from binging and purging, as well as stealing food from grocery stores.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: The doctor is like a drug addict. She gets high off of gorging herself on food and then throwing it all up. She also steals food from grocery stores, because she’s a lunatic with kleptomania.
3. “She likened the feeling she experiences to the adrenaline rush drug users experience.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: The doctor is a drug addict, and her drug of choice is stolen food.
4. She stole food “she did not really need.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: The doctor steals because she thinks it’s fun. She doesn’t even need the food. She’s an awful person.
5. Stealing gives her relief from “the tension, restlessness.” She said, “…it just makes me feel better.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: She was born to steal. She’s not okay unless she’s stealing food. She’s a hellion.
Here are actual quotes from another doctor’s information. He had similar problems but still has his license.
1. “Respondent was arrested for petty theft from a grocery store from which he stole $12 worth of sandwiches and sodas.”
- Unfortunate patient translation: He’s poor and probably had a bad upbringing in a trailer park somewhere.
2. “Respondent was arrested for grand theft for stealing four textbooks, worth more than $400…” while enrolled in a residency program.
- Unfortunate patient translation: This doctor is a nerd. Grand theft textbook is the nerd version of grand theft auto. The fact that this happened during residency only enforces this viewpoint.
The problem isn’t that the doctors being discussed have never had significant problems. The issue is that too much information has been posted about them. The first doctor had her license revoked, but her deeply private medical information is on the internet for all time. It’s not even relevant to patient care to have it on there anymore, because she doesn’t treat patients. The other doctor hasn’t had problems with the Board in several years, but we all know he was stealing food and school books while he was in a residency program. This is sensitive information, and it’s a harmful invasion of privacy.