Richard Carmona is running for the U.S. Senate in Arizona. He is a trauma surgeon and former U.S. Surgeon General. For better or worse, he has been a fixture in Arizona health care for decades. As I noted last week, he was entrusted with managing a community hospital and ultimately was ousted for financial mismanagement. He also spent about 4 years on the state Board of Medical Examiners, from 1998 to 2002. BoMEx is entrusted to protect the public and discipline doctors for ethical lapses or inferior care. It is the sole arbiter ensuring the public it has access to the highest quality of care. Unfortunately, he generally blew off this responsibility.
According to records made available to Breitbart News, Dr. Carmona skipped no less than 284 votes on disciplining doctors for delivering inferior care. Worse, he completely blew off 24 meetings of the BoMEx. During his tenure, the medical board was under increased public scrutiny for giving medical licenses to doctors who had been barred in other states. The Board also seemed very lenient in applying ethical standards to doctors already licensed in the state.
The Board, for example, refused to discipline a doctor who had been found to have inappropriately fondled his underage sister-in-law during an examination. It is unclear whether Carmona voted against sanctions on the doctor or if he just skipped this vote.
We generally allow the medical community to police its own profession and enforce minimal ethical and professional standards. It is more effective than turning this over to bureaucrats. However, if Boards like Arizona are empaneled with doctors like Carmona, who don’t take their oversight role seriously, there is a significant breach between the medical community and the public.
Serving on a state Board of Medical Examiners is assuming a position of public trust. The members of the board act as a line of defense between the public and doctors who may not be up to the job. That Carmona cavalierly skipped so many votes on disciplining doctors is a complete disregard of the public interest.
It goes a long way to explain why the Arizona Medical Association, of which Carmona was a board member, has failed to endorse his Senate run. When those closest to a candidate fail to endorse, its a signal for the rest of us. If he skipped his responsibilities when he thought no one was looking, why should we expect him to do better with the public’s trust in the Senate?