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Friedman: critics taking focus off patients

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by Mindy Aguon

Guam - While petitions are being circulated for the governor to withdraw the nomination of Dr. Sam Friedman to the Guam Board of Medical Examiners, now the nominee himself is speaking out about the storm of controversy that has grown in recent days.

"These people are trying to get the focus off what the issue is. And the issue is patient care, patient safety, lousy care in the hospital, doctors who make mistakes and we all make mistakes, but doctors who don't have to account for their mistakes," said the oncologist. Dr. Friedman has watched as a group of doctors and nurses have banded together in the last week to oppose his nomination to the GBME.  Healthcare professionals have accused him of creating a sense of panic among patients on Guam, being a racist, and violating federal laws for disclosing information about a patient who died at the Guam Memorial Hospital.

"You violate federal law by releasing confidential material, saying a person died without giving the name or the particulars, is no more confidential than picking up a newspaper and seeing somebody died," he said.

He contends physicians have failed to protect the public by not giving safe patient care and by covering up cases of medical malpractice. "Instead of having the medical community try to enforce decent medical care, what they enforce is the Omerta of Silence. Speak up and we'll kill you. Screw up and be our friends and well hush things up," he stated.

He says Dr. George Macris and Dr. Jerone Landstrom were victims of the selective peer reviews. Macris had his medical license taken away while Landstrom had his hospital privileges held up for months while being investigated for being a disruptive doctor who reported that a patient almost died because of a delayed diagnosis by another physician.

Friedman continued, "I think the people of Guam are finally starting to become like the people in the Middle East we've had enough of this. We've had enough of your lies. We've had enough of you telling us the hospital is safe, the hospital is wonderful.  So we should just shut up and do what you tell us and put up with it. I think thanks to Governor [Eddie] Calvo more than anybody with his breath of fresh air; I think this is going to change finally."

He's has already spoken to the governor about the growing criticism from the medical community. And while there's a request for the GBME to investigate, the nominee says, "I welcome it. As I told you in a letter, the day when the board stops free speech and takes away licenses on bogus charges like they did with Macris is over, and that's what we are going to change."

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