A global epidemic of attacks on ethical physicians, which endangers patients, was a focus of the 13th UNESCO World Conference on Bioethics, Medical Ethics & Health Law, held Nov 27-29, at the Ramada Hotel in Jerusalem.
AAPS Director Lawrence Huntoon, M.D., Ph.D., presented the keynote address on “Sham Peer Review: a Worldwide Phenomenon.” Dr. Huntoon, a neurologist practicing in New York, is editor-in-chief of the Journal of American Physicians and Surgeons.
Sham peer review targets physicians in a potentially career-ending administrative process, for reasons other than legitimate patient-care concerns, such as anti-competitive motives. Physicians have virtually no due-process rights in such actions.
“When a highly-skilled, compassionate physician is eliminated from a hospital as the result of sham peer review, patient safety and quality care suffer,” Dr. Huntoon states.
Gil Mileikowsky, M.D., presented a talk on “How to Protect Physician Whistleblowers—Patient Advocates—from Retaliation to Benefit Patients.” He was named “One of 20 People Who Make Healthcare Better” by American Health Leaders Media. A victim of sham peer review, Dr. Mileikowsky prevailed before the Supreme Court of California against the Hospital Corporation of America (HCA). Thanks to his advocacy, the State of California passed a law broadening the protection of physician whistleblowers. He is president and founder of the Alliance for Patient Safety, with resources available in English and Hebrew.
Jonathan Davies, an expert in the area of medical malpractice, led the session’s panel about the legal and ethical implications of the ripple effects of sham peer review throughout the world of medicine. He filed a lawsuit against Hadassah hospital in November 2017 on behalf of Aviva Milgalter, widow of Dr. Eli Milgalter, a cardiac surgeon who warned about various practices endangering patients’ lives from unwarranted risks. Instead of preventing such dangers, Hadassah initiated sham peer review proceedings to destroy Dr. Migalter’s career, during which he died of sudden cardiac arrest. His widow testified before Knesset’s Oversight Committee of Israel’s Office of the Inspector General.
Eitan Meiri, an organizational psychologist, spoke about “The Silent Epidemic in the Workplace—Abuse, Bullying, Harassment, Psychological Abuse.”
The Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS) is a national organization representing physicians in all specialties, founded in 1943. Its motto is “omnia pro aegroto,” or “all for the patient.”