The Washington State Medical Quality Assurance (MQAC) has attacked and harassed Dr. Jonathan Wright at every opportunity, often with trivial charges. The latest charge is far from trivial. And it represents a case where the Commission is blaming Dr. Wright for a mistake that was actually made by the Commission.
MQAC scheduled a three-day hearing on March 18–20 and finally issued its ruling last week.
In short, Dr. Wright’s license will be suspended for ninety days (effective mid-June). Following that suspension, he will be on probation for thirty months. He must pay a $7,500 fine; he must appear before MQAC annually to report on any new NDs or MDs his clinic has hired; and — absurdly, to our mind — he must submit a paper to the Commission describing the importance of proper licensure!
Dr. Wright will definitely be appealing this ruling.
Read more here
A Motion to Stay was submitted.
Tahoma Clinic & Dr. Jonathan V. Wright
We appreciate immensely the huge support displayed by friends and patients of Tahoma Clinic in response to the recent Medical Quality Assurance Commission (MQAC) investigation.
An update on the case is available here
Thank you again for your kind words and support.
Jonathan V. Wright, MD
WASHINGTON STATE “MQAC” ENDANGERS PUBLIC HEALTH AND SAFETY, BLAMES DR. WRIGHT!
Even worse, “MQAC” (the ironically-named Washington State Medical Quality Assurance Commission) has scheduled a three-day hearing on March 18th, 19th, and 20th to decide what to do about Dr. Wright’s Washington State license to practice medicine—all because he trusted MQAC to accurately inform him and all citizens of Washington State on the MQAC website.
A medical doctor (“MD”) joined Tahoma Clinic in September of 2007. Prior to his seeing patients, Tahoma Clinic employees checked the website noted above, which listed MD’s Washington State medical license as “pending”. Tahoma Clinic’s attorney told Dr. Wright that it is legal for a medical doctor with a “pending” license in Washington State to work with patients if he (or she) is supervised by another physician licensed in Washington State.
Dr. Wright supervised him very closely, reviewing every one of his patient visits starting in September of 2007 to January of 2008. After that, Dr. Wright met with MD once weekly to review patient records selected at random from the prior week’s patients. Weekly reviews continued until MD left Tahoma Clinic (and Washington State) in April of 2009.
Tahoma Clinic employees continued to check the MQAC website noted above every month while MD was at Tahoma Clinic. For the entire time, his medical license was listed as “pending”. With this status, supervised practice is legal. Despite this MQAC has charged Dr. Wright with “aiding and abetting the unlicensed practice of medicine”! MQAC claimed that this “aiding and abetting” endangered the health and safety of the citizens of Washington State.
Legal proceedings followed. During deposition of an MQAC official by Dr. Wright’s attorney, the official admitted that one section of MQAC actually knew from the very start of Washington State’s entire licensing process that this MD’s medical license (outside of Washington State) had been revoked! However, this information was never “posted” on MQAC’s website for Tahoma Clinic employees or the public to see. MQAC’s website always listed MD’s license status as “pending” the entire time he was in Washington State.
It is not known whether the withholding of this important information was the result of error or done deliberately. However, if there was indeed any endangerment of the health and safety of the citizens of Washington State, it was the action (or inaction) MQAC itself which created that endangerment, by not posting the information they admitted they had at the very beginning of the licensing process for MD.
A few suspect that this key information was deliberately withheld to “entrap” Dr. Wright, pointing to MQAC’s decades-long pattern of harassment of “alternative medicine’ physicians. There was no patient complaint or allegation of harm against MD in this MQAC investigation, nor was there any patient complaint or allegation of harm in the prior two MQAC investigations of Dr. Wright and Tahoma Clinic, briefly reviewed below.
On October 29, 2007, MQAC sent a letter to Dr. Wright which told him they were investigating the Tahoma Clinic telephone system, alleging that “all incoming calls go to voice mail” with “the potential of harm to the patients”. While Dr. Wright and Tahoma Clinic wondered how it would be possible to stay in business at all if “all incoming calls go to voice mail”, they were forced to go through the process of defending their telephone system. Two years and $35,000 in attorney fees later, the investigation was concluded—with no changes at all to the telephone system.
On March 6, 2006, MQAC sent a letter to Dr. Wright alleging that a number of procedures described on the Tahoma Clinic website were “inefficacious”. There were no allegations of danger to patients, and no complaints of patient injury. Procedures described on the website included chelation therapy, colon hydrotherapy, intravenous ozone, and non-invasive sensitivity screening.
Legal proceedings ensued; more than $20,000 in legal fees later, the investigation was settled; despite the 1st Amendment (“freedom of speech”) descriptions of these procedures were removed from the Tahoma Clinic website. It was later discovered that the entire investigation was based on a single e-mail communication to MQAC by an M.D. member of “Quackwatch”, who posts on her website (http://quackfiles.blogspot.com) that she “blogs” regularly about “Alternative Medicine, Quackery, Health Fraud”.
But these last two investigations are almost nothing compared to what happened in 2006 to Dr. Geoffrey Ames of Richland, Washington, another practitioner of “alternative” medicine. He saw a patient who had a positive antibody test (IgG4 RAST) for egg white and egg yolk. Dr. Ames explained treatment options for this problem, including not eating eggs at all, and desensitization to egg. To achieve desensitization, Dr. Ames sometimes used a combination of kinesiology and EAV (a non-invasive electronic device), which he recommended to be used for this patient. Although no treatment was actually given, and no harm at all was done, the patient subsequently wrote a letter to MQAC complaining about the EAV device.
MQAC charged Dr. Ames with “moral turpitude” (this is for real, the same charge used against sex offenders and child molesters), violations of interstate commerce (which is a Federal, not State responsibility) and intrastate commerce, and unprofessional conduct for using a device which the Commission alleged was simultaneously capable of causing harm to the patient and “ineffectual”. (No one has ever, ever been hurt by an EAV device; many people, but of course not all, have been helped, aided by the information it yields.)
Although the charge of “moral turpitude” (which was of course made public) and violations of interstate and intrastate commerce were later dropped, and no patient was harmed in any way, the Commission suspended Dr. Ames license for five years! In a perfectly transparent attempt to force Dr. Ames to practice “conventional” medicine (against both his conscience and the best interests of his patients) they “stayed” the suspension on several conditions: that he meet with them and submit to interrogation every six months at a location on the other side of the Cascade Mountains from Dr. Ames practice in Richland, Washington, over 200 miles away; that he send in chart notes from 10 allergy patients every three months along with a signed affidavit that he is not using his EAV machine.
Washington State Auditor’s Report 1000002, August 21, 2007
The following is from the Washington State Auditor’s report about what penalties are given to “mainstream” physicians in actual cases of injury to a patient, or even death. Except for [brackets] the two examples below are verbatim from the Auditor’s report .
“ [“Mainstream” physician #1] failed to appropriately treat a sickle cell crisis in Patient A. Patient A suffered significant, permanent neurologic injury.”
Sanction Imposed [By MQAC]
• Submit paper of no less than 1,000 words, with references, regarding current recommendations for prevention and treatment of stroke in pediatric sickle cell patients.
• Reimburse costs to the Commission in the amount of $1000 within 90 days.
[ Washington State Auditor’s] Comments
Per the sanction guidelines for practice below the standard with significant patient injury, the range is suspension for 5 years to indefinite suspension or permanent revocation.
[“Mainstream” physician #2] performed a laparoscopic oophorectomy [ovary removed through a small incision in the abdomen] on Patient A. [“Mainstream” physician #2]’s laparoscopic procedure resulted in perforation of the small bowel. This is a rare but recognized complication of this procedure. [“Mainstream” physician #2] was not aware of the complication at the time of discharge. [“Mainstream” physician #2]’s system of follow up contact with the patient during the first post operative hours was insufficient to learn of the patient’s signs of distress in time to effect life saving repair surgery.
• Respondent shall submit a paper of no less than 1000 words within 90 days on trochar [a surgical implement] injuries related to endoscopic procedures and response systems for bowel, ureteral, or bladder injury.
• Within 90 days, submit a policy regarding postoperative follow-up on outpatient surgery patients, and a plan for, or description of, the implementation of this policy.
• Pay $1000 for the administrative costs incurred in this case.
Sanction does not appear to be appropriate because per sanction guidelines, the sanction range for practice below standard with patient harm is probation or suspension for 2 years to suspension for 7 years to revocation.
Although it’s possible that MQAC is no longer so biased against “alternative”
medical doctors, their recent actions don’t indicate that. In addition to charging Dr. Wright with the endangerment to public health and safety that MQAC itself created by withholding key information, they are presently investigation four other “alternative” physicians for prescribing growth hormone, even though (once again) there are no reports of injury, and no patient complaints. One physician’s patients even wrote letters of support; these letters haven’t helped.
Please help Dr. Wright!
Please consider contacting your Washington State legislators about MQAC blaming—and threatening Dr. Wright with penalties—for a problem MQAC itself created! Call 1-800-562-6000; your call will be routed to your State Senator and your two State Representatives. This “legislative hotline” is open 8AM-8PM Monday through Friday, and 9AM-1PM.
You can e-mail your State Senator or State Representatives at the WA.gov website.
Please call or e-mail soon; the MQAC “hearing” is scheduled for March 18, 19, and 20!
And please call anyone else you know who may be able to help save Dr. Wright from being found “guilty” of what MQAC itself did—endanger the health and safety of Washington State citizens by withholding information!
In April 1995, The Federation Of State Medical Boards Of The United States, Special Committee On Questionable And Deceptive Healthcare Practices was formed to address
the proliferation of unconventional and unproven medical practices and promotions in the United States, some of which may be questionable and thereby pose a risk to the public health, safety, and welfare.