May 10, 2005
Jervis Spencer Finney, Esq.
Dear Mr. Finney,
We write to express our dismay and disappointment at the continuing, unjustified pursuit of Dr. Harold Eist by the Maryland Board of Professional Quality Assurance. Before this becomes a national scandal, we urge you to look into this state agency’s unrelenting harassment of a good physician over his plainly ethical conduct. The American Association of Practicing Psychiatrists called this a travesty of justice; we find even that to be an understatement. Dr. Eist stood up for his patient, and his reward should not be a multi-year witch-hunt by the state at taxpayer expense. Please intercede and correct this injustice.
We write on behalf the Association of American Physicians and Surgeons (AAPS). Founded in 1943, we are a nonprofit group of thousands of physicians, including many in Maryland. We assist in defending against actions by medical boards and prosecutors, more so than any other medical organization in the country. We are often successful in reversing the most unjust rulings against physicians. This persecution of Dr. Eist by the Board is, frankly, one of the worst injustices we have seen.
An Administrative Law Judge deliberated over this case and, like us, criticized the Board while praising the conduct of Dr. Eist. “The Board put Dr. Eist in an untenable position; he acted in the only way an ethical physician could and should act,” wrote Judge Cathy A. Barchi. But in response, the Board simply demeaned the good Judge and attempts to be above the law. The Board is answerable to your authority, and we urge you to rein it in before there is further injustice.
The U.S. Supreme Court recognizes the heightened right of privacy by a psychiatric patient in medical records, and Dr. Eist responsibly consulted with his attorney and his patient with respect to the Board’s demand for that patient’s records. Dr. Eist properly served his patient’s interests, not his own, and has been exonerated of any allegation of inappropriate care or substandard practice. Yet the Board, apparently caring more about its own power than professional quality, continues to pursue and harass Dr. Eist for protecting his patient. This is simply an abuse of power, and constitutes unwarranted oppression of a good physician.
We urge you to exercise oversight of the Board and end its unjustified interference with the practice of this ethical physician, before patient confidentiality is eroded further by its conduct. Sincerely,
Jane Orient, M.D.