Marianas Variety Guam Edition – The Local and Regional Newspaper

12 23Wed07082015

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Hypocritical oath

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SOME of the stories coming out of Guam Memorial Hospital and the medical community this week have caused us to wonder just what is going on at our only public hospital.

That’s something we actually wonder about fairly often, but find it difficult to get accurate or timely information. The lid of secrecy is generally clamped on GMH pretty tightly.

So when stories surfaced about an anesthesiologist on the hospital payroll demanding a cash payment in advance before he would administer a pain-killing medical procedure to a woman in labor, we contacted everybody we could think of trying to confirm the story. What we learned just raised more questions.

An internal investigation is now under way, according to a news release from GMH attorney Tom Fisher. They are looking into “alleged illegal activities” involving some members of the medical staff. Dr. Larry Lizama, the GMH medical director who is also acting GMH administrator in the absence of Rey Vega, emphatically stated: “I will not tolerate any impropriety among the medical staff.”

That statement elevated the rumors to a more substantial level, perhaps prompted by the fact that Sen. Dennis Rodriquez, who chairs the health committee at the Legislature, was so disturbed by what he heard that he called the police to look into the alleged cash demand, which he called extortion. So the cops are involved.

The specter of doctors in white coats, or hospital green, holding out their hands for some monetary green before they will perform a medical service, demanding that a husband pony up the cash while his wife writhes in agony, is just wrong. It’s wrong on so many levels, in fact, that we wonder whether some of our physicians have forgotten the oath they supposedly took when they became doctors.

That’s the oath named for Hippocrates, considered the father of medicine, through which medical practitioners promise to practice ethically and morally. There are various versions of the oath, but in our research we couldn’t find one for Guam, where money apparently talks louder than the screams of a woman in pain.

We hope that’s not the case, but we have very little faith in the so-called internal investigations. They generally connote a circling of the wagons to protect the guilty. In this case, we need a forthright statement from the doctors supposedly involved – and yes, we do know their names. If they feel they did nothing wrong then let them state that.

On the other hand, if some doctor overstepped his authority, extorted money or demanded a bribe, he or she should be disciplined or terminated.

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