Letter to the Editor: Publicity and Responsibility

The New York Times
Sunday, May 1, 2005

Your article notes that Dr. Sachs was profiled by numerous popular print and TV outlets for years. It is extremely disturbing that while his publicity grew steadily, so did his malpractice record, but none of the media outlets featuring him bothered to check his history (including The New York Times, which featured him in a 2003 story about generous tippers). Media publicity lends doctors like Dr. Sachs a sometimes unearned air of credibility and competence, luring in unknowing patients.
A doctor's history of discipline and malpractice verdicts and settlements should be easily available, so patients can make informed choices when picking doctors. New York's system, while confusing and relatively unknown, is still better than those in many other states, which provide no information at all. The National Practitioner Data Bank, which lists malpractice histories, is closed to the public but should be opened.
Furthermore, doctors who repeatedly commit malpractice should be automatically investigated before errors are allowed to multiply.
Geoff Boehm
Legal Director
Center for Justice & Democracy
New York

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