17,000 Docs, Some Who Had Sex With Patients, Scarf Big Pharma Payola

Big pharmaceutical companies say they only pick the saintliest docs to be “their boys,” getting paid into the six figures to “teach” fellow doctors about the companies’ latest wunder-pills. But a major investigation into disciplinary action against these docs on the take reveals that some of them have splotchy pasts, from having sex with patients, to criminal convictions, to research misconduct and revoked licenses. The history included:

* A doc reprimanded for “unnecessary” nerve tests on over 20 patients, including some that destroyed their nerve tissue
* An anesthesiologist who gave undocumented rectal and vaginal exams to female patients.
* He also was accused of exposing women’s breasts during procedures
* When confronted, he said, “Maybe I am a pervert, I honestly don’t know.”
* Hundreds of other doctors were
– accused of professional misconduct
– disciplined by state boards
– lacking in credentials
* Over 40 had FDA warnings for research misconduct, lost privileges at the hospital, or were convicted criminals
* Others were sanctioned for inappropriately prescribing drugs
* Giving bad care
* And having sex with patients

The drug companies say they don’t check state health board sites for doctor discipline and instead use self-reporting and federal databases.

Consumer Reports also did a survey of patient attitudes towards doctors who take money from pharma companies. Not surprisingly, they’re not very fond of them.

To check if your doctor takes money from drug companies, just type their name into the searchbox here.

Docs on Pharma Payroll Have Blemished Records, Limited Credentials [ProPublcia]
Consumers wary of doctors who take drug-company dollars [Consumer Reports Health Blog]

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Edit Your Comment

  1. Rectilinear Propagation says:

    The drug companies say they don’t check state health board sites for doctor discipline and instead use self-reporting and federal databases.

    Relying on self-reporting is stupid but why don’t the federal databases have the same information the state boards do?

    It’s always depressing to hear that there are so many people who have no business being doctors manage to get away with their unethical/immoral behavior. Anyone else remember the story of the dentist who kept practicing without a license that was up here a few years back?

    • Lel says:

      Differences in open records laws between states, I believe. There is a federal database of provider misconduct, but you have to have special access to it. IIRC you need to be verified as part of credentialing for a hospital/healthcare system.

  2. sufreak says:

    Is there a way to know if a doctor is getting paid by a pharma? I think that sort of thing should be disclosed.

    • Lethe says:

      There’s a link to check that in the article.

    • Wombatish says:

      I was very pleased to not find any of my doctors in the database.

      I don’t care if some of them may be ‘innocent’ speaking fees, I’d rather just have them unconnected personally.

      Now, I’m not sure if it covers PAs or RNs, but I ran them all too with no dings.


  3. kerrington.steele says:

    I think the wording “had sex with patients” is misleading, if referring to the anesthesiologist highlighted in the summary. his misconduct sounds more like sexual assault, if not rape, than “sex with a patient.” I know if someone who was supposed to be attending my medical procedure gave me an unexpected and unnecessary rectal exam, I’d be filing a police report. let’s not cast assault as “just sex,” please.

    • Ben Popken says:

      Nope, those were other doctors.

      • kerrington.steele says:

        ha, the one time I don’t RTFA! thanks for the clarification, Ben. :)

      • NickelMD says:

        So apparently because I prescribe my husband’s BP medicine and wrote him an rx last week for an antibiotic for a MRSA infection I am an evil villain.

        And since we had sex in TX prior to Lawrence in 2003 (in particular in DFW the night after I passed my boards) I should be avoided at all costs because I am a felon (or was).

        But the best yet: “accused of misconduct.” Hell I was accused of misconduct this weekend because I wouldn’t provide an Rx from the ER for 90 Oxycontin 40s.

        Apparently I am just a baaad doctor. So I should stop placing people at more risk by volunteering 2.5 days a week at a clinic that serves homeless, uninsured, and underinsured patients.

        • consumerfan says:

          We’re not talking about a simple accusation of misconduct. We’re talking about serious accusations that have been through all the disciplinary procedures, have expert witnesses and been through the courts.

          They’re still “accusations” because the court cases were about whether it was right to revoke the doctor’s license to practice, not whether each individual event is proven.

          A big pharma employs a doctor to tout a painkiller and advise on its use. That same doctor had his license revoked, amongst other reasons, for treating pain in a manner considered unnecessary, excessive, improperly performed, undocumented or improperly documented and without rationale. He was also uninsured for malpractice and cannot show that his patients knew that before receiving treatment.

        • RvLeshrac says:

          It is unethical to prescribe medications for a family member. It is not outright illegal, but it should be plain to any rational individual that you are not in a position to offer unbiased medical advice to someone with whom you’re that close.

  4. savvy9999 says:

    Pharma2K10 Hippocratic Oath: Do No Harm (unless there’s payola and/or boobies involved, then have at it!)

  5. Cheap Sniveler: Sponsored by JustAnswer.comâ„¢ says:

    “* And having sex with patients”
    Well, the drug and insurance companies are screwing us, so why not the doctors, too?

  6. Suburban Idiot says:

    Whenever I hear about a perverted anesthesiologist, I always think it’s going to be a story about my father.

  7. MamaBug says:

    the unnecessary bullets distracted me. anyone else?

  8. smartmuffin says:

    This story seems incredibly vague and misleading. Out of 17,000 doctors, we come up with “over 40” who had essentially “warnings or worse” and “hundreds” who were “accused” of misconduct.

    Also, assuming you’re not a psychicatrist or something, is having sex with a patient really so terrible? Not the first guy as that’s obviously sexual/assault rape, but is there some rule against a surgeon having a consentual sexual relationship with one of his patients?

    • Lel says:

      There’s laws against having any kind of personal relationship with a patient, regardless of what kind of doctor you are. It crosses ethical and professional boundaries.

      • Anonymously says:

        Thank God my ex-girlfriend brain doctor can never operate on me, otherwise I might get the Hannibal Lecter treatment.

  9. EWU_Student says:

    Hey, Wow! Doctors are people too, and not saints!

    There are douchebags around the world, and in every profession.

    • u1itn0w2day says:

      Why people look up to doctors or anyone else for that matter eludes me. These are just more reasons for you to much more actively involved in your own health. With the prices people pay and the stakes involved I see why people expect alot out of doctors. I think too many doctors and others involved in the health care industry forget that. I don’t know wether it’s taking the patients and their insurance/money for granted and/or a sense of entitlement.

      But in reality they are people who went to medical school. They are not special. Don’t expect anymore.

  10. AllanG54 says:

    Well, at least I didn’t see any incidences of bestiality.

  11. working class Zer0 says:

    Am I alone in thinking that there has been a marked increase in corruption and a general lack of ethics of people in influential positions in this country in the last decade or so?
    You see it in the news everyday.
    I see my company (of about 3000 people)promoting people who have proven themselves over and over again to be untrustworthy. These people care only about themselves, not their employer and certainly not about their subordinates. And I know that this is becoming the standard not the exception.
    I know that power can breed corruption. However when people who have have a track record of questionable ethics, like these doctors, are given more power, what kind of message does that send to the rest of us?

  12. c!tizen says:

    I’ve never had sex with a doctor, but I’ve been screwed by a medical bill… does that count?

  13. banmojo says:

    Okay, so many many things wrong with this report, where to start …

    1. The MDs being discussed are NOT practicing doctors. They work full time for pharm companies. They (in my opinion) are NOT real doctors, in that they do not actively see patients as well trained and highly professional health advocates in order to optimize said patients’ QOL. Obviously any MD who can no longer work due to having screwed up big time (see article for many good egs) is going to try to use their MD degree to get any job that will allow them to pay the mortgage on their expensive home and pay their ex wives’ alimonies. I doubt big Pharm gives a crap whether these douchebags screwed up in the past – they need people trained in the manner MDs are in order to help organize studies/trials plus to help with other things (marketing to practicing MDs, etc). Given that most MDs who CAN work with real patients DO work with real patients, biotech and pharm have to dreg the bottom of the barrel in many cases to find MDs to fill these roles, so this will continue to be an issue imho.

    2. A small % of practicing MDs occasionally give talks/presentations FOR biotech/pharm companies, usually to other practicing MDs, both in order to provide CME as well as to market the companies products (although the talks I’ve usually gone to have been overall bias free, as they are intended to be). Yeah, these MDs get PAID for giving these talks, and can even have airfare and hotels/food paid for if req’d. This in no way should influence their decision on which drug to Rx, nor should it affect the quality of care given to their patients.

    I personally have given such talks, been paid to, and have told the rep to their face that I will only rx their drug if it’s the best drug for the case (which I have been very well trained to determine, on a case by case basis). The reps respect me for my openness and honesty, my patients respect me because a. they KNOW that I have their best interest at heart – lets be honest, if you have a really good MD you will KNOW it by how they talk to you/interact/treat you/etc, b. I always take time to explain and educate as ANY GOOD MD SHOULD BE DOING (so few do this these days unfortunately) c. they see the ‘proof in the pudding’

    So those of you (most of you it seems) who have little understanding how the medical industry works should do a little more research before voicing strong opinions about how crappy MDs as a group are. In my experience there are more ‘good’ MDs out there than ‘bad’ MDs, and to be fair, most ‘bad’ MDs are simply jaded after years of contact with really shitty patients who yell at them, threaten to sue them, DO sue them (‘hey lets roll the dice and see if we win :^)
    and otherwise act like the low class people they are. MDs will see such people, but over time it will disillusion you and make you jaded. Try on your MDs shoes for a week and see if YOU want the job, okay?

    I have much more to see, but my RN tells me I’ve got one ready, so back to work :^))

    • Anonymously says:

      My allergist always prescribes brand name, non-generic drugs. He gives out the full marketing pack with the discount card and even has rubber adver-stamps so he can rubber stamp the name of the drug on the prescription pad. I’ve always suspected him of being in pharma’s pocket, and wow he’s on the list. Big surprise. Sounds like I need a new doctor.

  14. Lollerface says:

    Hot, why cant my doctor play with my goodies?

  15. sopmodm14 says:

    i’d rather pay for the services of the personal trainer than these blokes who just want me to get hooked on worthless drugs (never met a drug w/o side effects)

  16. Anri says:

    “Big pharmaceutical companies say they only pick the saintliest docs to be “their boys,” getting paid into the six figures to “teach” fellow doctors about the companies’ latest wunder-pills. “

    Almost every doctor makes six figures…