Paramedic Perspective: Never Forget the Wisdom of the ‘Shirky Principal’

“Institutions will try to preserve the problem to which they are the solution.” (Clay Shirky)

So our advice for the day? Keep this in mind the next time the wacky world of medicine tries to lure you into an annual flu shot.  Chances are . . . your immune system knows best how to handle the occasional cootie. It’s been around a lot longer; it knows you far better . . . and it never asks for cash.



How gullible are YOU in the face of incessant medical advertising?





Woman Fools Hospitals and Husband: For 10 Years, They All Thought She Was a Doctor

One of the state of Ohio’s freakier females was convicted last week in a rather strange case. She was found guilty in superior court of Fraud and Child Endangerment, in a case that revealed – among other stretches of credulity  – that she had tricked her entire family for an entire decade into believing she was a physician.

Monika Burgett

Monika Burkett fooled doctors, nurses and her entire family for years. She kept her son sick because she absolutely craved the drama.

She must have been pretty good at putting on her “con” face. She convinced the medical staff at Cincinnati Children’s Hospital Medical Center that she was an MD, too.

Burgett “became a member the health care team,” as her then-3-year-old son was treated with drugs including Oxycodone and methadone, Dr. Robert Shapiro testified Tuesday in Burgett’s trial.

Investigators in Cincinnati discovered that Monika Burgett, age 39, had also routinely lied about her 5-year-old son having cancer. She did so in order to collect GoFundMe donations. She even shaved the little boy’s head and eyebrows, so that he would look like a cancer patient in internet photos.

NBC 11Alive in Cincinnati  reported that Burgett’s lies finally caught up to her after law enforcement started looking into the GoFundMe fraud last year.

“I was hurt. I was confused. I didn’t understand why she would do this.” (Husband Jonathan Burgett)

During her 5-day trial last week, a child abuse expert testified that Burgett actually suffers from Munchausen Syndrome by proxie – a form of mental illness, when a parent either imagines fake illnesses for a child, or causes them. 

Police were able to determine that Burgett raised at least $40,000 from strangers, who donated to her GoFundMe pages for her youngest son. The child – age 3 at the time – did have  some  medical conditions, including neurofibromatosis – a genetic disease. But he does not have cancer.

Once the boy was removed from his mother and placed in child protection, he began to eat and play and thrive. He was running all over the place and laughing. He was just a cute little happy kid.” (Prosecutor Robert Shapiro)

Our Observations:

So yes, manic Monika Burgett did a no-no, and pretended to be a doctor. But let us all – just for a moment – put her case into perspective. Number one, she didn’t kill her patient. 

And number two, countless thousands of real doctors lie and steal and injure and kill more sick people everyday, than any of us can count. So you tell us who really has Munchausen Syndrome by proxie.

Societal insanity is best graded on the curve.

Here’s another look:

Yet Another New Jersey MD Locked Up in Massive Healthcare Bribery Scheme

 (This Doctor) “periodically solicited, and received from the BLS employees and associates, monthly bribe payments in the form of sham rental and consultant payments; received the bribes between March 2006 and April 2013 from BLS employees and associates.” (U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick)

A River Edge family practitioner now sits in federal prison for taking $200,000 in cash bribes. He exchanged lab test referrals for money for years.

Dr Bernard Greenspan

Doctor Bernard Greenspan, age 79, was sentenced to a 40-month term in June, and the New Jersey State Board of Medical Examiners revoked his license.

A federal jury found the scheming physician guilty last March of 10 felonies, following an 11-day trial in Newark. There is no parole in federal prison. Greenspan will be required to serve all of his sentence.

The elderly criminal was part of what U.S. Attorney William E. Fitzpatrick called “a long-running and elaborate scheme operated by Biodiagnostic Laboratory Services in Parsippany, its president and many associates.”



In the United States there are billions of illegal dollars raked in by blood tests – thousands of which are totally unnecessary in the first place

Investigators learned also, among other improprieties, that BLS hired – at Greenspan’s specific request – a patient of Greenspan’s with whom he was sexually involved.

The U.S. Attorney’s Office in New Jersey has successfully prosecuted 30 doctors, including Greenspan,  in connection with the BLS bribery scheme, that raked in more than $100,000,000 in illegal payments from Medicare, as well as many  private insurance companies. It is believed to be the largest number of medical professionals ever prosecuted in a single bribery case. Law enforcement has recovered $13,000,000 of the stolen insurance money.

Last summer executives of BLS – which has since been closed down – confessed to their scam and forfeited all business assets, in order to qualify for reduced prison sentences.

In addition to prison, U.S. District Judge William H. Walls fined Greenspan $125,000 and ordered him to give up more than $200,000.

Here’s another look at this recent medical embarrassment:

Is It Sunday? Cool. Time For The Lighter Side of Health Insignifica

The walking, talking creature called “you” is a serious concatenation of intricate systems. And if you think doctors aren’t pretty nearly as baffled by your corpus as you are, you just don’t know much about the human body (or the mental limitations of doctors). Here are just a few little curiosities we’ve found oddly entertaining over the years:

  1. Your brain’s electrical output could power a string of 50, small LED Christmas lights.  In fact, the brain generates as much energy as a 10-watt light bulb, even while you’re sleeping.

    Brain lights

  2. Speaking of sleep, experts believe the higher your intelligence, the more you dream.  Don’t know if smarter folks have scarier nightmares, but dumbness always scares us.
  3. Your fastest growing nail is on the middle finger. We suspect they noticed this in heavy traffic, with all the outraged drivers flipping them the . . . nail.


    We owe them considerably more than we realize

  4. You very likely sprout as many hairs per square-inch on your skin as a chimpanzee. So next time you hear anybody deny “evolution” ask them politely why that biological fact should possibly be?
  5. The acid in your stomach could easily dissolve a razorblade. Hydrochloric acid is what it is, and if you’ve ever had a bout of heartburn, you know how nasty stomach acid can be. We don’t suggest you swallow a razor to find out, but if you decide to do so, please contact us and report how well that worked out for you. We’ll publish it because that’s the way we are.


  6. Women blink twice as many times as men do per minute. Suppose that’s because they’re so often shocked by all the goofiness going on around them?


  7. Pretty much all Caucasian babies are born with blue eyes. You didn’t know that, did you? It’s because melanin – which is what causes darkening – isn’t fully set until about 24 months after birth.
  8. Most so-called “heart attacks” happen on Monday. Unless . . . unless, you routinely have Monday as a day off from work. Enough said?
  9. Your body’s arteries, veins and capillaries circulate your blood through about 50,000 miles of internal pipes. In an imaginably huge circle, that’s two trips around the earth.94752094  53616c7465645f5f9cca3fcc4a40cd806bab2fd6e705c613e3a72
  10.  You are almost always about one-half inch shorter at the end of the day than you are when you wake up. That’s because the cushioning material between your spinal vertebrae – the disc-shaped cartilages – get compressed by all of your daily activities as the hours go by. So when a bat sleeps upside down, he is simply regaining his normal waking height. Okay, so we don’t actually know that.
  11. With the exception of koalas, humans and apes are the only animals with fingerprints. Again, for the doubters, ask yourself that thing about evolution.LADY SMELLERS
  12. Women are far, far better “smellers” than men. Thus, perfumes and colognes are a $1,000,000,000 industry . . . guys can’t smell stinkies and . . . you know the rest.

Have a super weekend, Readers. And thank you for dropping by. We’ll be back tomorrow with more wacky MD stories because . . . well, the daffy-doctor freight-train just keeps right on chugging along, day after day, year after year, tooting its ridiculous horn.



California Senator Wants to Make it Harder to Catch Bad Doctors. How Cool is That?

(Steve Lopez reports in the LA Times)

Sen. Ricardo Lara

By introducing State Senate Bill 641, Lara will be able to say he succeeded in putting up yet another wall of protection for criminal physicians. 

The prescription drug epidemic is a serial killer, claiming thousands of lives in the U.S. each year.

Opioid pill mills, trading in dangerous narcotics like oxycodone, have been shut down in Southern California and beyond, but investigators say there’s more work to be done.

Doctors have been arrested and prosecuted, including a Rowland Heights physician convicted of murder a year and a half ago in the deaths of three patients who overdosed on prescription meds.

So here’s a quiz.

A bill pending in Sacramento would:

A) Strengthen protections for patients and the general public
B) Stiffen sanctions against offending doctors
C) Make it easier to prosecute dirty doctors
D) Make it harder to prosecute dirty doctors

Hard to believe, but the answer is “D”.

As the law stands now, officers who investigate tips about doctors who write questionable prescriptions can check a monitoring database maintained by the California Department of Justice. There, they can look for patterns, or connections to criminal enterprises. including big-time distributors and gang operations.

This database, which goes by the unfortunate name of the Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System (CURES), is a vital resource, law enforcement officials say.

Is this (Bill) helping patients or doctors?

Under Senate Bill 641, by Sen. Ricardo Lara (D-Bell Gardens), law enforcement officials would need a search warrant before using CURES to check on a doctor.

Why the change?

“Given the sensitive and confidential nature of the information within this system, there is a need to strengthen patient privacy protections,” Lara said in a statement emailed to me by his staff.

Lara, who is running for state insurance commissioner and is the author of California’s pending single-payer healthcare bill, said New York and Oregon require judicial permission before investigators can access their prescription-monitoring systems.

The patient privacy spin is also coming from the bill’s biggest cheerleader — the California Medical Association, a powerful lobbying force on behalf of doctors.

“People expect their medical records to be kept private,” Joanne Adams, associate director of communications for Cal Med, said in a statement. “But the law does not currently hold medical information in CURES … to the same standards that protect medical records in hospitals and doctors’ office.”

Well, if it’s such an invasion of patient privacy, why hasn’t there been an outcry from patients in the decade or so that CURES has been in use?

Critics argue this isn’t at all about protecting patients. Rather, it’s about protecting doctors by trying to keep investigators out of their business. In a somewhat related matter, there’s a case before the state Supreme Court right now in which a doctor is arguing that the state medical board violated his patients’ privacy in using information obtained from CURES to suspend him for three years.

Why make it harder to catch bad doctors?

Prosecutors aren’t going after good doctors, but the tiny minority of those who shouldn’t be in practice. So why do we need this bill at all?

Lara’s staff denies it has anything to do with $11,000 in campaign donations to Lara from the California Medical Association. He’s received loads more from other medical industry sources, by the way.

Lara’s staff claims the senator is trying to find a fair balance between investigative authority and privacy rights. The bill has already been amended and may come in for more fine tuning in the future. Lara has been at odds with Cal Med in the past, his staff notes. Last year, the doctor lobby was no fan of a Lara bill (SB 482) that required doctors to check the state’s prescription monitoring database before writing scripts for opioids.

Some people are confused about where Lara really stands.

“I’m very surprised he is carrying this bill,” said Bob Pack, a Bay Area man who worked with Lara on SB 482.

Pack, who has written two letters to Lara’s office protesting the current bill, has a personal connection to the issue. His two children, 10 and 7, went out for an ice cream with their mother in 2003 and were struck and killed by a driver who was under the influence of alcohol and prescription drugs. Pack, who works in tech, helped design CURES. And he isn’t buying the patient-privacy argument.

“Law enforcement has to get a warrant in order to investigate a patient. That’s already required,” said Pack. “Why would you try to inhibit looking for and catching a bad doctor who is going to cost lives or has cost lives?” 

Continue reading.

It seems very much as though Senator Lara’s motivation for this bill is the $11,000 he received.

Our Observation:

Send a note to this confused state senator and let him know that Senate Bill 641 absolutely does NOT protect the citizens of California – which just happens to be a key component in his swearing in as a senator in the first place.

(We thank Steve Lopez for forwarding this revealing case, of how state politics damage healthcare by protecting criminals)

New Orleans Fires Team Doctors After Serious Player Misdiagnosis

Over the weekend the NFL sports world learned via several insider reports that the New Orleans Saints looking to trade cornerback Delvin Breaux . The essence of the story was that coaches and team owners were frustrated, because Breaux seemed to have a problem healing from injuries that appeared to be minor. Most recently, he missed an entire week of training camp because of what the team doctors swore was a leg bruise.

Uh, not quite, doc.

After finally being more thoroughly examined, poor Mr. Breaux  actually had an excellent reason for all the pain he was describing: his leg was broken. Specifically, he had suffered a fracture of the fibula. The fibula – for those interested – is a leg bone located on the outside of the tibia, with which it is connected above and below. It is the smaller and weaker of the two lower leg bones.

According to Nick Underhill of The Advocate, the Saints’ management was so highly irritated at the doctors’ misdiagnosis – and embarrassed by their stance that Breaux’ injuries were not as serious as he let on – that they fired orthopedic specialists, doctors Deryk Jones and Misty Suri, this morning.  The termination of the two doctors happened immediately after another doctor proved that the normally non-complaining Breaux actually did indeed have a broken leg. 

It wasn’t exactly rocket surgery. All it took was a – now hold your ponies here – an X-RAY.

Breaux is not exactly known as a whiner when it comes to football-inflicted pain. He has started and was a key player in 21 of the last 22 games for the Saints, over the last two seasons. He is now scheduled for orthopedic surgery and the recovery time is about 6 weeks.

We wish him well.


This case reminds us of an epitaph we once saw on a tombstone in Billings Montana:

Dear Folks. I Told You I was Sick. Did you Listen? Noooooooo.