On Wednesday, October 19, 2011 at 11:15 am, I received a call from a gentleman named Richard Marino. Caller-ID identified the call as coming from ST of CA JUSTIC, so I took it. Mr. Marino is an Deputy Attorney General for the State of California and handles cases for the Medical Board of California. He is also someone I respect.
He takes his job seriously, is tough but fair, and his attention to detail makes him awesome at his job although he can appear gruff and inflexible (I think unfairly). I liked him immediately because he is a straight shooter, and that’s something you don’t find in people associated with government.
Our conversation went like this:
“Hello” I said.
“Hey, Dr. Adams, Richard Marino.”
“Hey, What’s up? What can I do for you?”
“First, let me ask you a question… who’s your favorite quarterback?”
“Of all time, or playing now?
“I guess I’d have to say Drew Brees since Manning isn’t playing.”
“I’d thought you’d say Fitzpatrick.”
“Yeah since he went to Harvard.”
“He’s good, and I wish him the best, but can’t say he’s my favorite.”
“By the way, are you writing a Blog right now?”
“Is it different from the book I have?”
“Yeah, but who wants to know?”
“Oh, someone at the board ask me. They alert me when people I know come up on the radar. Well maybe I’ll just take a look at it. Well, any reason to call and say hello.”
“You don’t need an excuse. Always good to hear from you.”
“What else are you up to these days?”
“I’m continuing to go to lectures weekly.. CME credits youknow… so that’s out of the way, and right now I’m reviewing the Osler course in Plastic Surgery. So I’m on track…Doing the right things.”
“Well, I’ll keep in touch. I’ll take a look at the blog.”
“Okay, talk with you later.”
This conversation, make no mistake about it, speaks volumes to my previous post. God is good, it occurred right on cue and that is why I get to share it with you. Obviously, somebody over at the Medical Board, who wishes to remain anonymous, is concerned. Not so much for me mind you, but out of fear that I will tell the truth. Marino’s job, whether he was consciously aware of it or not (and he was because he is certainly no dummy), was to alert me that they were watching. That’s okay, I invite them in to our discussion. Furthermore, I encourage them to share in the comment section and I will use their suggestionsto makethisa better, more informative, more fair publication. I’m comfortable with what I did, but I guess if you choose to be anonymous, you are not.
I suspect in the very near future I’ll start getting harassed. That’s okay too, only this time the dialogue won’t be one sided. I’ll present my side. You see, the negative requires an absence (ignorance, impotence, irrationality); the positive requires a presence (knowledge, efficacy, thought). Besides, nothing breeds appropriate behavior in government workers faster than the exposure to the light of public scrutiny. Think Mitt Romney and the illegal alien gardeners he fired stating that “hey, I’m running for public office here and people are watching”.
The last time I talked with Mr.Marino was about six months ago. I had submitted my petition for reinstatement of my medical license. The tech in the offices of the Medical Board had made a mistake by accepting my application; apparently it was too early. I understood and saw no reason to brow beat the tech. She was actually a nice lady just trying to do her job. At that time Marino called to, I suspect, make sure I knew the delay wasn’t coming from his office. In polite conversation he, then, made a disturbing (and innocent) statement that bothered me. In passing he said “they were pretty mad about the Donda West thing”.
“They who?” I asked.
He never said. But here’s the point, they, whoever they are down at the Medical Board, had no reason to be mad about the Donda West thing, at least not at me. The coroner pointed out that “neither anesthesia nor surgery mishaps contributed to her death”. They certainly had access to the same information and the coroner, himself. But someone at the board was obviously using mis-information, or thelack of it, to attack an innocent physician, me. (Maybe that’s why the founding fathers were so skeptical of govermment and wrote the constitution to protect citizens from the government, not each other.)
Anyway, back to our story: (Just know that your comments are being reviewed by people who have already demonstrated their agenda trumps the truth.)
On November 20, 2007, my attorney, Thomas Byrne, Esq, received a letter via facsimile from Attorney McPherson stating that he, along with Brad Rose of Pryor Cashman LLP in New York; represent the family of Donda West. The letter (figure22) suggested a violation of physician-patient privilege associated with the media frenzy going on at the time, but offered no specifics. Of particular interest to this discussion was McPherson’s assertion that “we understand that the board has contacted Dr. Adams and similarly demanded that he cease and desist”.
I received a copy of this letter at the CNN studios in New York City as I walked to the set to do the Larry King Show. I was in NYC, had been on an airplane all day, and this was the first I had seen the letter. It was instrumental in my decision to terminate my interview with Larry. My attorney wanted this letter clarified before we went any further. I explained that to Larry and apologized for the inconvenience.
The fact is that I had not spoken with the Medical Board of California or any of its agents. After reviewing the letter I placed a call to a Ms. Rene Threadgill, Chief Enforcement Officer, Medical Board of California. She clarified that while she had indeed called my office, she and I had never spoken. She further went on to say that she did not call to warn me to “cease and desist” anything, that in fact her call had been placed to ensure I knew their policy concerning the matter. She was not aware of any violations. She did, however, comment that attorneys were “prone to hyperbole” and that she didn’t give much credence to their comments.
My concern though was not the speaking or writing style of attorneys, but merely the factual content of their communications, in this case, McPherson’s letter.
But, here’s the disturbing part, and further documentation of something drastically wrong going on at the Medical Board of California from my perspective. In an e-mail:I forwarded to Barb Johnston, Executive Director, I pointedly asked her if she had had any communication with Mr. McPherson (much in the same manner that I had asked her about Harvey Levin).
(Ms. Johnston offered that she had never heard of him and sardonically suggested that I might ask McPherson exactly who, in her office, with whom he spoke:
Ms. Cohen, a media representative at the Medical Board of California, went so far as to inform me that the Medical Board has no such authority, “We can’t tell a doctor to grant, or not grant, an interview. We have no such authority.”
Ms. Johnston, it would seem, has a problem with candor. Despite her insistence that she had never communicated with Mr. McPherson, had no idea of exactly who he was, and her sardonic tone of how ridiculous my entire inquiry was, I produced a letter addressed to her from a Mr. John D. Harwell introducing himself and none other than Edwin McPherson:
The lawyers for the West family had been communicating with, and pressuring, the Medical Board of California to keep this doctor quiet all along; in reality, so they could get the story out there the way they wanted it told.
In his letter to the Medical Board, dated November 20, 2007, Mr Harwell engages in some pretty fascinating creative writing. (First note that his letter is dated exactly the same day as McPherson’s letter. There is no time for me to respond to McPerson’s letter if they both went out the same day. It reeks of dishonesty.)
Mr. Harwell has apparently been hired by Ed McPherson because of his experience having dealt with the Medical Board. I have never met or spoken to Harwell but I find it amazing that he admonishes the board that I am “scheduled to make an appearance on the Larry King Show on CNN to, literally, speak ill of the dead”? How could Mr. Harwell know that? How could Mr. Harwell know in the future what Larry King would ask and how I would answer? The fact is he couldn’t. What Mr. Harwell knew was what I had shared with Rose: that in my opinion (and the opinion of the LA County Coroner) Donda West was dead because of negligence on the part of her nephew, Stephan Scoggins. He abandoned her while she was under his direct care, twelve hours after her surgery; he left her alone, with no skilled care, with narcotics on board, in order to attend a baby shower. (Pretty much the exact same set of circumstances for which Conrad Murray is on trial.)
Mr. Harwell’s fear wasn’t that I would violate physician-patient privilege; it was that I would “out” Stephan Scoggins, their client. And guess who was paying for all this?
These people were actually taking money from Kanye West, to protect Stephan Scoggins, knowing he was the person who had abandoned his mother’s care and was the healthcare professional most negligent in her demise.
Mr. Harwell makes reference to articles in People Magazine, but there are no references in People of me having discussed anything about Donda West. Also, he makes no reference to what exactly it was that I supposedly said. The fact is no such violations occurred (except those perpetrated by the family).
Furthermore, at the bottom of page one, Mr Harwell states that “among other insults, Dr Adams will not release Dr. West’s patient chart to her family and counsel, citing patient confidentiality”.
This is where Harwell crossed the line from an arrogant idiot to a co-conspirator. Remember, McPherson’s letter also went out on the November 20, 2007. I had yet to receive a legal request for records from McPherson until November 29, 2007, more than nine days later.
I personally had called Mr. McPherson’s office and explained the procedure for getting the documents. I let them know that we would need a release form signed by the executor of her estate, which we could provide for them, and that whoever they sent to retrieve the documents would need some identification. On January 8, 2008, I received another letter from McPherson’s office, this one somewhat nasty, and so I sent him a reply.
More than six weeks later Mr. McPherson’s office had yet to pick up the documents that they had threatened that they get immediately. They were again threatening us by contacting the Medical Board, but yet hadn’t taken the time to merely pick them up. This was indicative of the entire matter and what was so frustrating from our standpoint.
My assessment was just that these guys were out of their area of expertise and simply had no idea of what to do. They were doing their clients a dis-service.