December 29, 2017

The best—and worst—physicians of 2017, according to Medscape

Daily Briefing

    Medscape recently honored several doctors as the "best" of 2017—and called out others as the "worst" for crimes ranging from health care fraud to murder.

    In a physician shortage, win talent in a candidate-centric market

    According to Medscape, those on their list of the "best" physicians of 2017 represented the best in their field, including experts in genetics, health economics, HIV, psychiatry, oncology, and more. This year, the list also included other non-physician honorees, such as individuals with PhDs—including a Nobel Prize winner—and nurses.

    The 'best' physicians

    Medscape's "best" list this year honored several individuals who have passed away, including:

    • Babatunde Osotimehin, the head of the United Nations Population Fund, who championed the health of women and girls through his efforts to end preventable maternal deaths and address the unmet demand for family planning;  
    • Angela Brodie, who pioneered the creation of aromatase inhibitors, which are now frequently used to treat hormone-positive breast cancer'
    • Peter Nowell, the co-discoverer of the Philadelphia chromosome, the first genetic defect that was proven to cause cancer—a discovery that helped show cancer had a basis in genetics and ultimately led to the development of several targeted therapies, including imatinib;
    • Uwe Reinhardt, a health economist and a professor at James Madison University and Princeton University, who served as president of the Association for Health Services Research and—for about nine years—as a commissioner on the Physician Payment Review Committee, among other roles.

    Others that Medscape named to their "best" physicians list include:

    • Robert Smith, who won this year's Medal of Valor from the American Medical Association for his work during the civil rights movement in Mississippi, during which he provided health care to those who had "little or no access" to it, Medscape reports;
    • Eric Winer, a prominent breast cancer clinician at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute who challenged the stigma associated with HIV last year, when he publicly disclosed his own HIV diagnosis stemming from a contaminated blood product;
    • Tirej Brimo, a refugee of the Syrian war, who became a doctor in 2017—and started work as a junior doctor in England's National Health Service—after 10 years, four medical schools, and 21 different houses located in four countries; and
    • Alex Wubbels, an RN at the University of Utah's burn unit, who was handcuffed and arrested by police after refusing their request to draw blood from an unconscious patient, citing hospital policy barring such a draw unless the patient had given consent or was under arrest. The incident prompted an investigation from the Salt Lake City Police Department and the firing of one officer, as well as the disciplining of another.

    The 'worst' physicians

    Medscape also named several doctors involved in health care fraud and other crimes as the "worst" physicians of 2017, including:

    • Christopher Duntsch, a neurosurgeon in Dallas, who was sentenced to life in prison after he was found guilty of maiming a woman in a spinal procedure. Before that surgery, Duntsch had botched other operations, including two that killed his patients;
    • Larry Nassar, the former doctor for the USA Gymnastics team, who this year pled guilty to multiple counts of first-degree criminal sexual conduct. Gymnasts Aly Raisman and Gabby Douglas both claim to have been sexually abused by Nassar, who is being named in over 120 lawsuits from athletes who claim he sexually abused them under the guise of medical care;
    • John Couch and Xiulu Ruan, co-operators of the Physicians Pain Specialists of Alabama, who were both convicted from prescribing addictive painkillers without medical need, as well as Jerrold Rosenberg, a Rhode Island physician who pled guilty to engaging in health care fraud and receiving kickbacks for prescribing Subsys;
    • Jacques Roy, who was found guilty of six counts of health care fraud, among other charges, in a home-health scam that created $375 million in fraudulent Medicare and Medicaid billings. Roy was ordered to pay $268 million in restitution and was sentenced to 35 years in prison; and
    • Elizabeth Wettlaufer, a former RN who pleaded guilty to first-degree murder for the deaths of eight nursing home residents, as well as four counts of attempted murder and two counts of aggravated assault (Brooks/Rotach, Medscape, 12/18).

    In a physician shortage, win talent in a candidate-centric market

    Health care is in the midst of another labor shortage. Vacancies are on the rise and demand for health care talent will continue to increase over the next decade.

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