At the top of the list of the worst doctors of 2011

I know I said I’d probably chill this weekend and not post anything new until after New Years, but another thing showed up in my in box that–shall we say?–inspired me to post another quickie. It’s Medscape’s list of the Physicians of the Year: Best and Worst. It starts with the worst, and guess who shows up first?

Andrew Wakefield, who is described thusly:

Wakefield’s MMR-Autism Vaccine Study an “Elaborate Fraud”

In January, the BMJ published a series of 3 articles and editorials charging that the study published in The Lancet in 1998 by Andrew Wakefield (pictured above) and colleagues linking the childhood measles-mumps-rubella (MMR) vaccine to a “new syndrome” of regressive autism and bowel disease was not just bad science but “an elaborate fraud.” Wakefield was planning to market a diagnostic testing kit with expected yearly sales of 28 million pounds (US $43 million) as well as immunotherapeutics and a “safer single measles shot,” for which he held a patent. The third article in the BMJ series claimed that the medical establishment “closed ranks” to protect Wakefield.

Thank you, Brian Deer, from the bottom of my heart.

It’s instructive to see who some of the other worst doctors of 2011 are, according to Medscape. Here are some of them:

  • Medicare fraudsters, ten physicians who, along with around 80 accomplices, falsely billed Medicare for around $295 million.
  • Dr. Rolando Arafiles, an incompetent physician who abused his position as a physician in a tiny rural hospital in Texas to sell supplements and, when two nurses complained, got the sheriff (also his business partner) to find out who these nurses were, leading to their being wrongfully fired. The sheriff did go to jail. One thing the news media didn’t report is just how into serious quackery Arafiles was. Unfortunately, Arafiles unfortunately did not go to jail, though he richly deserved to, in my not-so-humble opinion.
  • Dr. Conrad Murray, the physician who gave Michael Jackson his propofol.
  • Gerald J. Klein, MD and 13 other doctors charged with selling opiods.
  • Kermit Gosnell, MD, who was charged by a Pennsylvania grand jury with the murder of 7 newborn infants and a Bhutanese immigrant named Karnamaya Mongar, who died of cardiac arrest in 2009 following a Demerol overdose dispensed by unlicensed, untrained, and unsupervised clinic employees, among other things.
  • Mark Midell, MD, who implanted hundreds of unneeded stents when he worked at St. Joseph Medical Center in Towson, Maryland.

Yes, I do think that Dr. Wakefield is deserving of being in such “august” company.