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California Medical Board

* This responds to your July 15 editorial, “Medicine for Problem Doctors.”

According to the editorial, the report suspending the doctor’s privileges was sent to the Medical Board, “sat on a clerk’s desk for a month,” and was not entered into a computer. It goes on to say that “had it been handled properly, the report would have triggered an investigation that might have pressured the doctor into a substance abuse program for physicians . . . " and “quicker action might have taken the doctor off the road sooner and gotten him the help he needed.”

I have worked for the Medical Board for 15 years. There has been constant media criticism, some deserved, most undeserved. This time, it’s undeserved and I would be remiss if I did not respond.

The clerk you referred to is one of the hardest-working and most conscientious employees of the board. She is helpful and courteous and not one you would see wandering the halls or taking smoking/coffee breaks. Entering hospital reports into a computer is only one of her many responsibilities. The report didn’t just arbitrarily “sit on her desk.” It was on her desk because of other work she was told took priority, which, incidentally, included a reporter’s request for substantial licensing information.

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To say that if the report had been handled properly it would have triggered an investigation that might have pressured the doctor into a substance abuse program may be correct, but it doesn’t happen overnight. The board might have obtained a temporary restraining order. That order, however, would have only restrained him from practicing medicine. It would not have restrained him from driving a car. The manner in which he drove his car resulted in the deaths. A horrible tragedy has occurred, but please put the blame where it belongs.

You have done an injustice to staff of this board. We deserve better.

BILLIE HARRIS

Sacramento

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