by Neil Bauman, Ph.D.
A lady recently took me to task for my reply in my article “Gentamicin and Balance Problems” (October 22, 2006) regarding “the article about the RN who used an antibiotic in her ear which had a hole in it and was thus severely damaged.”
In that article I had quoted the RN’s sister as saying: “What I find even more appalling is the arrogance which we have witnessed first-hand. We even went to the President of the [name of state omitted] Ear, Nose and Throat Foundation for testing and help and he simply denied that Gentamicin could have caused her vestibular damage, even bragging about having testified against a woman in a Gentamicin lawsuit.”
After reading the above, this lady wrote: “If you do not name names, then it assists those people who are negligent. Why leave out the name of the institution where the President not only is ignorant, but parades his ignorance? Consumers have a right to this information. It appears irresponsible to assist in hiding names when you can name them and protect others. Hiding behind libel laws when truth is on your side is not something I find admirable when the potential for harm exists.”
I explained that there are a number of reasons I do not name names. Here are some of the main ones.
1. I don’t have the whole story–only the patient’s side. Often they don’t tell me everything. Who knows what the doctor really told them. Therefore, before naming names, its only fair to thoroughly investigate each case, and that is not what I do.
2. I do not always know the names of the doctors/institutions as the people that tell me their stories don’t always name names in< the first place. Some do, and some don't. 3. According to several sources, doctors are responsible for the death of more than 100,000 people in the USA each year (mostly from over-prescribing drugs). Thus, there are a lot of names that could be named. I don't know who all these are. If I named one name, a person may go to a different (and perhaps even worse doctor thinking since I didn't name him/her, he/she must be ok). (In addition, another 1 to 2 million people each year are hospitalized due to doctor "error" again often the result of prescribing the wrong drugs/wrong dose etc. That's a lot of incompetence/mistakes/carelessness each year.) 4. Since staff move around a lot, if I named a given institution as being bad, the next year, they might now be good (but their bad name would be permanently floating around on the Internet), and a formerly good institution could now have a bad doctor. 5. I do not have the time or money to defend myself against all the lawsuits that could be brought against me. If I'm spending my time tied up in court, I'm not doing what I do best--which is educating people on how to protect their ears, and how to cope with their hearing losses. As the saying goes, "there are no winners in a lawsuit." As a result, I think it much better to warn people, in general terms, what they should watch for. A person that is forewarned can then do their own "due diligence" and educate themselves both as to their condition and as to the competency of the doctors they might go to, and not just blindly follow the orders of their doctors. Thus they hopefully will be able to spot a less than good doctor when they come across one.