Tuesday, September 05, 2006

Tsk, Tsk, Bill Frist

The Associate Press recently reported that Senate Majority Leader, Dr. Bill Frist (MD) is likely to be fined by the Tennessee Department of Health for failing to complete continuing education that is required of physicians with active licenses. It appears that the Senator will receive a fine of $40 for every hour that he failed to complete and be required to make up the hours within 6 months.

Understandably a United States Senator, particularly when that person is the Majority Leader, is busy. I can see how hours might not get completed in the manner that they should have. Things happen in life sometimes. But here's the kicker.

Senator Frist on his license renewal form certified that he HAD fulfilled the requirement.


The explanation from the Frist camp is that a representative signed the renewal papers and that this person was "apparently unaware" of the continuing education requirement.

Really? That's the best spin they could find?

Let's see if I understand.

• In Tennessee, if you are a licensed medical doctor, someone other than yourself can sign your license renewal form? The Frist camp claims this is so. If it is, Tennessee really needs to look at their licensing procedures.

• The Tennessee license renewal form is apparently so obtuse that it is unclear that continuing education is required. I'm sure that there is no section where a physician has to, oh I don't know, document what they did and for how many hours.

It brings to mind the old Steve Martin comedy bit where his explanation for not paying his taxes is, "I forgot."

Mistakes happen in life. We'd like to believe that our physcians are less prone to making them, but they're just people. What is troubling about this is that Bill Frist, the Senate Majority Leader and a man who trots out his medical credentials liberally, allowed this to happen. It troubles me that he has been so cavalier with his medical license. If the person who filled out Frist's application wasn't aware of the continuing ed requirement, shouldn't Senator Frist at least know about it. Did he not think that personally reviewing HIS own license renewal application was a good idea? Hello, McFly?

In the end, it serves to make the Senator look either stupid or shady. Neither look wears well in a contentious election year.


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