In February I wrote two posts about Dr. Emmette Flynn, the San Angelo, Texas surgeon who performed a nonconsensual (and medically unnecessary, though medical necessity wouldn’t justify a procedure against the competent client’s wishes) proctoscopy on an arrestee at the behest of the police who brought the arrestee to the hospital along with a search warrant that order the police to present the accused, Mr. Gray, to
qualified medical technician to examine [Gray] for the concealment of controlled substances and to remove said controlled substances from his body in accordance with recognized accepted medical procedure as described in [Hethcock’s] affidavit.
What’s important about this is that the order didn’t order Dr. Flynn to do anything. He could have told the pigs to fuck off and, because Mr. Gray refused the proposed treatment, he had an ethical obligation to do so.
I immediately filed a complaint with the Texas Medical Board against Dr. Flynn. A couple of weeks later I got a letter from the Texas Medical Board explaining that my complaint had been dismissed because there was no ethical liability for “expert medical opinion offered in a contested civil and/or criminal matter.” Someone at TMB had skimmed my complaint, which referred to the Fifth Circuit opinion, and concluded that the complaint was about something other than it was about.
(An aside: it drives me crazy that bureaucracies send letters signed [Name of Bureaucracy], with no human being’s name or signature attached. Nothing good ever comes of bureaucrats not being held accountable.)
So I appealed, reexplaining what I had explained before.
Six weeks later I got a letter saying that the board was reconsidering the matter.
Last week I got a notice that the Texas Medical Board had opened an investigation of Emmette Flynn, with an investigator assigned. I also got a letter from the investigator (with a name and a signature! huzzah!) asking if I would waive my right of confidentiality in my complaint.
I admit that it hadn’t occurred to me that I had a right of confidentiality in my complaint. I want Dr. Flynn to know who filed the complaint, and I want him to know why. I want him to bitch about me to his fellow doctors at the golf course. I want them to know that if they cooperate with the authorities in violation of their oaths, some asshole criminal-defense lawyer three hundred miles away might well go out of his way to make them wish they hadn’t.
I want doctors to know that if they choose to help the police rather than respect their patients’ wishes, those stories are going to be the first thing potential patients read about when they google the doctors’ names.
I don’t know how serious the Texas Medical Board is (Mr. Gray was, after all, an onlya), but I hope Dr. Flynn is worried about his livelihood. If he’s not, I hope dealing with a TMB complaint is enough of a nuisance that next time the cops want him to scope some poor schmoe who doesn’t want to be scoped he can man up and say no.
Maybe Dr. Flynn is a very nice man who is kind to his children and loves his dog, but he made the wrong choice, and the point needs to be made in a way that will make an impression not only on him but also on every other doctor in the United States who might find himself in a position to make the same choice.
Which brings us to Dr. Michael LaPaglia of Oak Ridge, Tennessee, who in February 2011 testified about his nonconsensual paralysis and rectal exam of an onlya named Felix Booker and, four months later, was coercing a guy named Antwan Gulley to consent to a rectal exam. LaPaglia is apparently the Oak Ridge Police Department’s go-to guy for rectal exams. Unfortunately for Dr. LaPaglia, this time he came up empty-handed, so Mr. Gulley isn’t an onlya. Gulley has filed a civil lawsuit against Dr. LaPaglia and others, seeking damages and an injunction.
Good for Gulley. And good for his lawyer, Robert Jolley, who also represented Mr. Booker (and is representing him on appeal in the Sixth Circuit. Appellate briefs here.) I hope they take Dr. LaPaglia down. And if they don’t, I hope they make him so miserable that next time he tells the Oak Ridge cops, “find yourselves another patsy with a medical license.”
(If Jolley okays it, I’ll file a complaint with the Tennessee Board of Medical Examiners against LaPaglia as well.)