Medical Board Ordered to Pay Millions for Harassment

medical board harassment

Story at-a-glance -

  • Medical boards have gained tremendous power over doctors’ ability to practice medicine, and while standards are needed to protect patients, medical boards frequently misuse that power
  • License revocation and other career-ending punishments are being used to stifle free speech, free thinking and the open-minded investigation that should be a cornerstone of science itself
  • Dr. Mark Geier, a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in genetics, lost his medical license in 2011 for using a controversial chelation therapy to treat autistic children
  • After the Maryland Board of Physicians published a list of medicines prescribed to Geier, his wife and son on its website, Geier sued the board for harassment, and won
  • Montgomery County Circuit Court awarded Geier $2.5 million in damages, calling it a significant breach of medical privacy; half of the damages must be paid out of pocket by the board’s appointees

By Dr. Mercola

Over the years, it's become increasingly evident that medical licensing boards are misusing their considerable power over doctors to impede free speech and maintain the status quo of the medical industry, which in large part is dictated by drug company interests. Any doctor who "steps out of line" can easily be reined back in by the threat of having his or her license revoked.

In this way, medical boards ensure that "standard practice" is maintained — even when standard practice does more harm than good, or goes against a doctor's sense of integrity or medical expertise.

In 2012, a large National Institutes of Health (NIH) funded study presented evidence in support of chelation therapy for people with cardiovascular disease.1 The trial to assess chelation therapy (TACT), demonstrated that by removing heavy metals from patients with coronary disease, incidence of death, heart attacks, stroke, coronary revascularization and angina was lowered, occurring at a rate of 26.5 percent in the treatment group compared to 30 percent in the placebo group.

Interestingly, diabetic patients, which made up one-third of the participants, benefited the most. Chelation therapy has been a controversial topic for many years, and its popularity among alternative health practitioners has been widely criticized as unscientific, unnecessary and potentially dangerous. The results from TACT were therefore highly unexpected. It was the kind of "inconvenient" evidence that gave alternative practitioners the ammunition they needed.

The Case of Dr. Geier

Enter Dr. Mark Geier, a medical doctor with a Ph.D. in genetics, who spent 10 years of his scientific career at the NIH, wrote more than 150 peer-reviewed scientific papers and worked as a professor of genetics at Johns Hopkins University. In the video above, Geier discusses some of his work and his involvement in the effort to make vaccines safer. Over his three decades' long study of vaccine efficacy and safety, Geier came to believe mercury was a liability.

More specifically, he argued for the idea that mercury binds to testosterone, and the treatment protocol he developed involved the use of the testosterone-suppressing drug leuprolide (Lupron) and chelation. Lupron is used in the conventional treatment of precocious puberty.

Off-label, the drug is also used to chemically castrate sex offenders. While I had some personal disagreements with his use of dangerous drugs loaded with side effects, like Lupron, in his detoxification protocol, he was certainly correct in identifying mercury as a pernicious toxin.

As reported by The Washington Post,2 Lupron is "considered dangerous for young people and not known to alleviate symptoms of [autism]," and in 2011, the Maryland Board of Physicians suspended his license over his continued use of the treatment.3 Over the next two years, all 12 of his medical licenses were suspended, and several were revoked altogether, including his Maryland license.

The story might well have ended there, had it not been for the Maryland Board of Physicians' decision to continue to pursue and humiliate Geier, and Geier suing the board for harassment — and winning.4

Medical Board Sued for Harassment 

In 2012, the medical board claimed Geier was prescribing drugs for himself and his family even though his license was suspended. A public cease-and-desist order posted online included a list of the specific drugs Geiger had allegedly prescribed for himself, his wife and his son — a serious violation of the Health Insurance Portability and Accountability (HIPAA) law, which protects patients' privacy and health information.5

The Geiers say they were "horrified" when they realized their private medical details were on show for all the world to see, and critics indeed seized the opportunity to bring even more public attention to it by mocking their use of the medicines in various blog posts and online forums. During a 2014 deposition, Geier's wife Anne said, "How would you feel if somebody put your medical records up and then they laughed at you and made fun of you? They humiliate you. The whole thing has just ruined my life."

While the medical board claims the inclusion of such private details was "an honest mistake," the Geiers sued the board, arguing the publication of their health information was an act of vengeance, aimed at punishing Geier for advocating unconventional ideas, specifically the idea that thimerosal-containing vaccines may play a role in autism.

Making matters worse, an administrative law judge determined the allegations against Geier were meritless to begin with, as Geier was not the prescribing doctor; his son, David Geier, was.     

Ruling: Maryland Medical Board Ordered to Pay $2.5 Million

As reported by The Washington Post February 3:6

"… Montgomery County Circuit Court Judge Ronald B. Rubin sided with the Geiers, awarding them $2.5 million in damages. He called the order a significant breach of medical privacy and accused the board and its staff of failing to preserve emails related to the case and pleading ignorance about the order on the witness stand.

'If their testimony were to be believed, which the court does not, it is the worst case of collective amnesia in the history of Maryland government and on par with the collective memory failure on display at the Watergate hearings,' Rubin wrote in a December opinion.

He ordered 14 board appointees, the board's lead attorney and the lead investigator on the Geier case to pay half of the damages out of their own pockets, between $10,000 and $200,000 apiece, depending on their net worth."

The fact that the board members are being held personally liable is a first. Normally, taxpayers foot the entire bill when government officials are caught in wrongdoing. But as noted by The Bolen Report,7 "[W]hat the officials of the Maryland Board of Physicians did was not in pursuit of the people's business. It was for pharma profit." Fortunately, this time the scheme backfired, delivering a very real sting.

Absolute Power Corrupts Absolutely

Medical boards have gained tremendous power over doctors' ability to practice medicine that is outside the standard of care, and while standards are certainly needed to protect patients, one could easily argue that medical boards have taken to misusing that power. As the saying goes,8

"Power tends to corrupt and absolute power corrupts absolutely." Geier's case is just one among many examples showing that license revocation and other career-ending punishments are being used to stifle not only free speech but also free thinking and, indeed, the open-minded investigation that should be a cornerstone of science itself.

Doctors who question or even express an interest in having an open discussion about vaccines are particularly vulnerable to harassment and intimidation. For example, last year Dr. Daniel Neides, medical director and chief operating officer of the Cleveland Clinic Wellness Institute, was fired after publishing an article in which he questioned the safety and efficacy of the flu vaccine — questioning triggered by his own experience of getting violently ill after receiving a flu shot, even though it was thimerosal-free.

"Within 12 hours of receiving the vaccine, I was in bed feeling miserable and missed two days of work with a terrible cough and body aches," he wrote.9 Four other administrators who received the same vaccine had the same reaction. Puzzled by these coincidences, he decided to investigate vaccines a bit further, and he didn't like what he found. But this vaccine anecdote was not the main gist of the article.

Neides was actually speaking about the "constant toxic burden that is contributing to the chronic disease epidemic" in broader terms, urging people to take matters into their own hands and do what's necessary to protect ourselves from the constant onslaught of toxins in our air, water, food and, yes, medicine. Neides was publicly shamed and branded as an anti-science, "anti-vax" quack, and was let go shortly thereafter.

The Case of Dr. Neides

Neides spoke out about his career-ending article at a recent Ohio Advocates for Medical Freedom meeting, and what inspired him to start incorporating a functional medicine approach into his medical practice.

He also talks about Dr. Paul Thomas, author of "The Vaccine-Friendly Plan," a physician who opened his eyes to understand what one of the core problems with excessive vaccinations is, namely the fact that some people are unable to effectively detoxify the poisonous adjuvants and preservatives used in the vaccines, be it aluminum, mercury (thimerosal) or formaldehyde.

Neides also frankly admits he had "absolutely no idea" the hepatitis B vaccine, which is injected into babies on the first day of life, contains 250 nanograms of aluminum. "I didn't personally do my due diligence on vaccination," he says, noting that inflammation and inability to detoxify are two hallmarks of chronic disease. "Nothing was off the table in that article," he says, and that is why vaccines were included among the many sources of toxic exposures discussed in the article.

The only thing critics saw, however, was an attack on vaccines from a person who should know better. Some also questioned his integrity by pointing out that two years earlier, he had strongly advocated for vaccinations. "I did!" he says, "but I'm not the same person two years later. The whole idea of continuing education is to learn, and then take those principles and adopt them into your practice. As I began to see with my own eyes what was going on, I changed my point of view."

Three Pillars of Heavy Metal Detoxification

Getting back where we started, to the issue of chelation therapy, it's important to realize that it has its downsides. According to Chris Shade, Ph.D., one of the foremost experts in the world on the subject of heavy metal detoxification, the best and safest route for most patients is to upregulate certain aspects of your biochemistry to optimize the natural mobilization of toxins.

Inorganic mercury and cadmium are two heavy metals that cause significant damage to your kidneys. They tend to build up there, causing a downward spiral where the more damage there is to the proximal tubules, the more metals accumulate and the more damage is created. Chronic renal insufficiency is a potential and very serious side effect.

For many, chemical chelation isn't really necessary. If you do choose to use it, make sure you're working with a highly skilled clinician in this area. Shade's work has led to treatment strategies that are far safer and more effective than earlier detox methods. Shade's suggestions, which you can learn more about in this previous interview, are divided into three steps:

1. Optimize your filtration mechanisms. Detoxing involves moving the toxin out of the cell into your blood circulation, and then filtering out the metals through your kidneys, liver and gastrointestinal (GI) tract. However, you need to begin by assessing your filtration capacity before you start moving toxins out of your tissues.

If you're feeling awful when detoxing, it means toxins are building up in circulation faster than they're being filtered out. To ensure your filters are working properly, begin by supporting your kidneys, liver and GI tract, and use binders to capture and eliminate metals and toxins in your GI tract. Overlooking this step and going straight to mobilizing heavy metals with a chelating agent will tax your kidneys, potentially causing more damage.

2. Address detoxification biochemistry. Next, you need to optimize the metabolic biochemistry needed for detoxification. This involves glutathione and the enzymes and transporters that work with it, such as the enzyme glutathione S-transferase. The most well-known and reliable nutraceutical that helps accomplish this is R-lipoic acid (sometimes also called R-alpha-lipoic acid). Nutraceuticals that upregulate Nrf2 are also very helpful. These include haritaki, broccoli seed extract and garlic.

If everything is working well in your body, you can simply use precursors to glutathione, like N-acetylcysteine (NAC), which will support glutathione production. If things aren't working well, a direct delivery of glutathione in the form of nanoliposomal glutathione that absorbs under your tongue is recommended.

Whether you can make do with precursors or need direct delivery of glutathione has a lot to do with how well your glutathione system is working, and your current state of health. Poor immune function is a sign of glutathione insufficiency, and a tipoff that a precursor might not be enough.

3. Pulsed chelation, if absolutely needed. The chelating agent EDTA is a powerful biofilm breaker. When taken systemically it opens up biofilms throughout your body, revealing various organisms to your immune system. As a result, you may experience immune reactions. In many such cases, you may need some type of antimicrobial.

Avoid indiscriminate chelation for lead, and always work with a qualified physician. If you go through the glutathione system upregulation discussed above, you're getting mercury, cadmium, arsenic, lead and a whole host of other toxins out, including fluorinated, brominated, chlorinated hydrocarbons and pesticides. Start low and keep pulsing on and off. Over time, the toxic manifestations of lead will cease as your body becomes better able to mobilize it. 

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