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Can Medical Providers Legally Strike Back?

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Integrative physicians are disproportionately the targets of state medical board action. They are often held to a different standard. Because their practice is outside the norm, the charge of “practicing outside the standard of care for the practice of medicine” is often leveled at them—even in the absence of any patient being harmed.

Attorney Michael Cohen, author of Legal Issues in Integrative Medicine: A Guide to Clinicians, Hospitals, and Patients and Complementary and Alternative Medicine: Legal Boundaries and Regulatory Perspectives, takes up the topic of whether the practitioners can strike back with a lawsuit. He cites the case of a conventional dentist suing Illinois state officials after his license was suspended in a case that involved a five-year-old girl who died after receiving anesthesia in his office.
The dentist involved in this case, Dr. Hicham Riba, contends that the suspension of his license is a “clear, uncontroverted and a blatant violation” of his constitutional right to due process of law, according to attorney Michael Cohen’s report. While the case involves a conventional dentist, the implication is clear for integrative practitioners. Because they are unduly the focus of medical board complaints, can these integrative practitioners strike back?
There have been attempts—and some success—at piercing the veil of immunity that state and federal officials typically invoke for acts conducted in the official course of their duties. Dr. Robban Sica of Connecticut is one of a growing number of integrative physicians who fight back because of the actions of state medical boards that cross the line. Dr. Sica is a true health hero.

There are hundreds of physicians who do not fight back. Legal bills often overwhelm them, negative publicity affects their very livelihood, and the physical and emotional toll exacts a heavy burden. Cases like these are the exact reason AAHF was created and maintains its mission to protect the rights of the practitioner to practice and the consumer to choose.

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