Saturday, June 10, 2006
This item is from the Federation of State Medical Board's newsletter [links added by me]:
The executive directors of the Texas and Mississippi medical boards testified on June 6 before a U.S. House subcommittee investigating public health issues in the wake of a court ruling that found medical screening companies and physicians were diagnosing patients with silicosis for the purpose of referring them to law firms as plaintiffs in mass tort litigation.
The House Energy and Commerce Oversight Subcommittee is investigating screening practices for silicosis, a lung disease caused by the inhalation of silica dust, which occurs during mining and other industrial processes. Subcommittee members criticized the practices of RTS, Inc., N&M Inc., and Occupational Diagnostics, which conducted the screenings addressed in the June 2005 U.S. District Court opinion In Re: Silica Products Liability Litigation, MDL Docket No. 1553 (S.D. Tex., June 30, 2005).
Donald Patrick, M.D., J.D., executive director of the Texas Medical Board, testified to the issue regarding unlicensed practice of medicine. In Texas, he said, making a diagnosis falls under the definition of practicing medicine. Physicians seeing patients for screening companies who made the diagnosis of silicosis in those patients were practicing without a license. In Texas, Dr. Patrick emphasized, such practice is a felony. Mallan Morgan, M.D., executive director of the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure, testified the screening companies were operating without permission from their states.
In her opinion, U.S. District Court Judge Janis Graham Jack noted that only 12 doctors were responsible for the silicosis diagnoses of more than 9,000 plaintiffs involved in the case, nearly all of whom the physicians neither met, treated nor physically examined.