Meanwhile, in the heartland

Those following the Charles Siebert lynching in Florida know that I have been focusing a lot on it. However, there are a number of other egregious examples of political compromise of Medical Examiner and Forensic Pathology offices in other states. More recently there is the unwarranted firing of Dr. Flomenbaum in Massachusetts. His attempt to turn the office around rocked the political boat, and it resulted in the standard BS charges used to force folk out. Usually I don’t write about these since they are so common — Jon Arden in DC, Mark Flomembaum in MA, Charlie Siebert in FL, the entire crew in Indianapolis, etc., etc., etc. Most Medical Examiners spend a lot of time praying that they don’t get that special case that makes them politically unpopular. God save us from getting stuck doing the Terri Schiavos and Martin Andersons of the world.

Most of the time, however, we can count on our colleagues generally standing behind us, with the exception of the standard media whores and such, of course. That’s what made me focus on the Charlie Siebert lynching — it would not have been possible without the eager cooperation of a select group of his colleagues.

But, sometimes, we can fight back. One of the worst cases of injustice in the recent past was the mass firing in Indianapolis by the newly-elected Coroner there. For years, Indianapolis had been a stellar place for forensic pathology. The office run by John Pless for years was the kind of place that most MEs wish they could turn their offices into. It was associated with a good medical school and did excellent academic investigational work, it had the highest standards in practice, and it produced some of the best young forensic pathologists in the nation. When John retired, Steve Radentz continued in that tradition. Excellent work. Excellent group. Some of the best forensic pathology around.

Of course, none of that holds water when it comes to racial politics. In 2006, a new Coroner, Kenneth Ackles, was elected. Coroner Ackles is not a pathologist or a medical doctor. He is a chiropracter and made it his mission to dissassemble one of the best ME offices in the nation and remake it in his racial image. He fired the team there and reconstructed it to meet his political and racial preferences. While I wish Dr. Carter, his current hire, the best, he has destroyed what was once one of the best offices in the nation. Finally, though, the group is fighting back. The suit will likely reveal some of the shenanigans Ackles used to create an office of the appropriate hue, as well as some of the operational results of that kind of management.

It should be interesting.

The Lynching of Charlie Siebert, Part 4

UPDATE: Read my disclaimer. Don’t run crying to my employer. They have nothing to do with this.

This is the fourth in my series on the politically motivated witch hunt against Dr. Charles Siebert for making a politically incorrect, but medically correct, diagnosis.
The first installment is here.
The second installment is here.
The third installment is here.
The fifth installment is here.
The sixth installment is here.

So, let’s recap. In our last installment, the MEC ended up looking like a fool in its copy-editing inquisition, so it raised up bogus “ethical” charges, easily disproven by simple observation. Then, after the new State Attorney realized that Dr. Siebert was being lynched, they decided to go to the governor and see if they could get him fired procedurally.

On August 3, 2007, Dr. Vincent DiMaio, retired Chief Medical Examiner for San Antonio and author of two best-selling textbooks of forensic pathology stated that Dr. Siebert’s conclusions were scientifically valid and that Dr. Adams’ was not. This was echoed some weeks later by Dr. John Hunsaker, former President of the National Association of Medical Examiners, in a radio interview. Dr. Randy Eichner, team doctor for the University of Oklahoma Sooners and expert on exertional deaths, called Dr. Adams’ conclusions “fantasy.”

One might think the MEC might consider the ethics of what they were doing.

But no….

As you may remember, one of the less stellar points in this lynching was when Dr. Barbara Wolf got up in public and made accusations of ethical breaches that she, in fact, had never observed. Instead, she repeated these charges, no doubt in good faith, merely on the basis of hearsay.

Well, now it turns out that only Dr. Siebert and one other person has applied for this position, so far. It would be quite an embarrassment for the MEC to have to offer the job back to him — particularly after he is exonerated by the upcoming judicial appeal (and, as we all know, he will be exonerated).  One amusing anecdote about the appeal is that the counsel for the State asked for an outside-of-Florida review of Dr. Siebert’s autopsy procedure.  They asked Dr. Jerry Spencer, now retired but well-known and respected in the forensic pathology community, to review the case.  Dr. Spencer could find no fault.  I wonder what the State will do with that…  Certainly they won’t admit their error.

How, one might wonder, can they screw him over knowing that they are going to be proven wrong on what they have already tried?

The answer is simple — use an inquisitor as a judge.

So, now the MEC has gotten Dr. Wolf to “rescind” her letter of resignation and is trying to reinstate her as Dr. Siebert’s peer reviewer — only now with the implication that she is his “supervisor.”

It’s pretty obvious where this is going to go. Nothing like having someone who has come out publicly calling you “unethical” based on hearsay passing judgement on your work. It doesn’t matter whether or not she made those accusations in good faith — this is clearly a setup
for more accusations.

Outside the bizarro world of the Florida MEC where diagnoses are judged on political correctness and autopsy reports on the basis of word count, being a ringleader of a lynch mob is usually grounds for recusing yourself from being a judge. But not here.

It’s amazing.

And now, to top it all off, Governor Crist has finally come out publicly and stated that he doesn’t care about the medical truth, only the politics. When asked about the multitude of medical experts that have come out in favor of Dr. Siebert’s diagnosis, Crist stated that he simply didn’t care.

At least now the pretense of this actually being a medical question has been disposed of. Governor Crist has made it official — forensic diagnoses in Florida must be based on politics, not medicine.

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