Dr. Phil McGraw, who I frankly (and perhaps naively-but come on, he has Oprah’s, and her machine’s, backing) expected more from, and whose arrogance and disregard for the facts apparently knows no limits, went even further. He and his producers, to join the fray (or perhaps more accurately to not be left out) put on a show in which three “disgruntled” former patients of mine told their stories.
Phil stepped way over the line in a number of ways. Number one, He misled his audience as to the truth. He produced an envelope (from which he never presented the contents) suggesting that he had gotten clearance from these patients in order for me to be present on his show. That was a lie and makes Phil a self-deluded arrogant douche. My attorney, Michael Payne, had requested copies of the so-called releases prior to the show on a number of occasions and had still yet to receive them.
In our private telephone conversations (Phil called me), Phil had offered “Come on Dr. Adams, we both know that all it takes is one line saying these women allow you to talk about their case.” My attorneys thought otherwise. They believed the details should be spelled out beforehand, so there is no problems afterwards.
Their argument: if that were true, that one line made it okay to discuss their cases, then why is it that the network, the legal department at Harpo Productions, CBS/Paramount, and his show, have people sign releases that are one to two pages long? Why is it that he, as a medical professional, could not see the medico-legal ramifications of such a document when one of his “guests” says “Oh…I didn’t mean that, I meant he could talk about something else…I thought he was going to talk about the surgery not that I bounced a check and didn’t return to his office for my follow-up appointment because of it”.
Number two, Dr. Phil stated that I had consented to come on his show, but nothing was further from the truth. I had told Phil McGraw and his assistant that I was not doing any shows. That, at the very least, it was inappropriate for me to do them. If I had consented to go on the show, why was a personal call from Phil McGraw necessary? Why would he offer his private cell phone number as a “false act” of friendship? I never consented to go on his show and that is why the assistant/producer had him personally make his pitch.
I did offer a concession. I told him that in the future when it’s appropriate for me to do so, and if the appropriate releases are obtained, then I would be more than willing to come on his show and discuss Donda West, or any other patient for that matter.
Then, in an effort to use his Psychology 101 training, I guess as if he thought I was some kind of moron like him, he offered that he “had consulted on number cases like these and understood the issue from doctor’s perspective”. (That’s exactly the tactic used by Amy Keith at People Magazine.) He had become so sweet, I thought he’d give me a cavity.
But Phil is also a bully. Initially his posture was to be soft and accommodating, to embrace me as a colleague. We were buddies he implied. He offered that he had evaluated many patients psychologically for surgery in the past and knew what I was going through. He wanted his show to be balanced. He had seen these types of patients in the past in his own practice and knew them to be “crazy and unreasonable”.
Yet when I declined to participate in his show at that time, his posture quickly changed to anger, as if a switch had been thrown, and he made it clear the show was going to go on “with or without me”.
He tried to scream me down, but I simply screamed back at him. “I have done over 4,000 surgical procedures”, I said. If you want your show to be balanced, allow those 3,997 other people to sit in the audience while these three present their cases, or at the very least, let three women who are happy with their results join the fracas”. (I personally, with absolutely no solicitation on my part, or the part of my staff, know two women who were called by producers of the Dr. Phil Show, and denied participation because they had nothing negative to offer; so much for fairness.)
Apparently that is not Dr. Phil, or his show, at all. He’s not really concerned about people, or their issues, and he’s certainly not concerned with being fair. He’s concerned about eyes, that is people watching to increase advertising revenue, and Phil (and, frankly I have no problem with it). That’s TV, and that is what they do.
I might also add that shortly after his tirade Phil went back to sweet talking me. “Come on Jan (now using my first name)” he said, “I’d love to be able to discuss these issues with you.”
I declined again.
We now know that Dr. Phil has gone unsolicited to a hospital to see a patient: a hospital where he is not on staff, in a state where he is not licensed. We also know that he arranged bail for criminals in order to get an exclusive for his show.
I would also offer, that it was this kind of malicious defamation on the part of cattleman, that, he, himself, was now spinning toward me, which brought him and Oprah together in the first place.
Of the three women that he and his producers had invited on the show, one, a black woman, had hypertrophic scarring. In a woman of color, while that is unfortunate and written about extensively (and shared preoperatively with the patient), it is nowhere near malpractice or below the standard of care. It’s simply about an unfortunate, angry person who had not developed a career in the entertainment industry, wanting to blame everyone but herself for her predicament. I see that a lot. She’s looking for attention.
The other woman, a LPN, still owes our office $5,000 and her presence there was to create an air of defensiveness on our part. The best defense is a good offense. She simply is trying to avoid paying the remainder of her bill. It was nothing more than a scoundrel’s charge and Phil, whether he was smart enough to know it or not, was helping her complete her ruse.
Her case did go to court and therefore I am free to discuss it because it is public record. Let me first say this case was dismissed by the judge. Jama Strunk, the patient and the woman who took a free trip to Los Angeles on Harpo Productions’s dime, made false and defamatory statements in an attempt to avoid paying the doctor, plain and simple. She presented her story at the urging of Dr. Phil as if she had walked in off the street and was operated on by me. The truth is that she had established an ongoing relationship with our offices and me that extended over a period of seven months prior to her surgery (and we had the telephone records to substantiate it).
The ugly truth is that she was a woman standing 5’2” tall whose maximum weight peaked at 365 lbs. She had intimated that with the massive weight loss and the “horribly ugly hanging skin” that she and her husband “had not engaged in sex” for more than a year. Here are excerts from the interview:
Dr. Phil: Did you have a consult with him before?…With Dr Adams, did you…
Ms. Strunk (interrupting): Ten minutes before my surgery.
Dr. Phil: So he didn’t…
Ms. Strunk (interrupting again): Never met him.
Dr. Phil Never met him. You…
Ms. Strunk: No
During the court proceedings, in response to this conversation, I presented to the court both a Financial Responsibility Form, which Ms. Strunk had dated and signed and a hand written consultation note dated and signed by me confirming Ms. Strunks evaluation on July 3, 2007, for one hour, three days before her surgery which took place on July 6, 2007. Jama Strunk, Financial Responsibility; Jama Strunk, Hand Written H/P. (Note that the Financial Form is signed and dated by Ms. strunk herself. The history and physical exam page is almost comical in that I was still calling the month June (6) -see upper left hand corner.)
Dr. Phil continues: And after surgery, how long were you there before you were sent to the hotel? I mean, were…did you
Ms. Strunk: Immediately. I never woke up…
Notice that neither person in the conversation is allowing the other speaker to complete a thought. That is because the whole thing is rehearsed and Dr. Phil and his producers over at Harpo have to take responsibility for that. They were eliciting the story they intended to tell. But here’s the problem: again, in court, I produced the Recovery Room Report, signed and dated by both the recovery room nurse and the anesthesiologist on the case (Jama Strunk RR Report). (Note that while Ms. Strunk claims that she never woke up, the recovery room nurse has her awake and oriented, not once but three times beginningmore than an hour before discharge; and that she was discharged to her mother, herself a nurse.)
We were also prepared to have them both testify at trial. Ms. Strunk was recovered for more than two hours and again was confirmed in a court of law to be lying.
Dr. Phil Mcgraw was, and is not, the concerned medical professional helping people with their problems. He was a dimwitted sociopath masquerading as a talk show host aiding a pathologic liar in the defamation of a surgeon.
I really just couldn’t understand why Dr. Phil, as a professional, wasn’t interested in arriving at the truth. I had said to him over the phone “look, this woman is lying to keep from paying her bill” and he ignored me (JS/CancelledCheck-Payment History). Ratings, it seems, are much more important to him than integrity. So in the words of Gordon Gecko: “If you stop telling lies about me, I’ll stop telling the truth about you.”
But here is the real question: If Ms. Strunk was unhappy with her surgery, why did she send the $300 check three months later. The fact of the matter is her surgery went just as discussed with her, she was very happy with the result, and engaged in lying when prompted by Phil McGraw and the producers over at the Dr. Phil show in order to use the death of Donda West as a publicity stunt. Ms. Strunk is lying and defaming a surgeon to get out of paying her bill, plain and simple; and Dr. Phil and his producers are abhorrent.