by Mindy Aguon
Guam - With new management at the Guam Memorial Hospital, some physicians are optimistic that it will bring about positive change for healthcare on Guam. Former Guam Board of Medical Examiners chairperson Dr. Jerone Landstrom issued a press release expressing some of his concerns.
In recent days many in the medical community have been critical of the governor's nominee to the GBME, Dr. Sam Friedman who testified before lawmakers that "GMH is killing patients". Dr. Landstrom, in a statement released to KUAM News, said he doesn't agree with the choice of words his colleague used but he believes Friedman's words came from his passion to improve medical care on Guam and bring transparency and quality that the community deserves and desires.
Landstrom detailed how during his tenure on the board, he requested that the hospital forward all malpractice settlements to the GBME, as mandated by law. He says this resulted in a tremendous amount of resistance.
"To this day this reporting to the GBME has not been done save for one physician and that was for Dr. Macris. GMHA not only removed Dr. Macris privileges for not a single mortality or a single significant morbidity, but also forward their action against him to the current GBME and to the NPDB when there was not even a malpractice settlement. Because of the complaint by GMHA against Macris, the current GBME suspended Dr. Macris' Guam medical license indefinitely. This is an unheard of disciplinary action among all Federated State Medical Boards of which the GBME is a member. Despite the fact that Dr. Macris wasn't convicted of a felony and Dr. Macris has not had a single malpractice claim against him or settled by GMHA against him, his medical license was suspended indefinitely," Landstrom wrote.
He pointed to the dozen malpractice settlements made at the hospital in the last five years and noted that he doesn't believe a single one of these cases was forwarded to the GBME or the National Practitioners Data Bank.
He contends that while he was serving as the chair of the board, they began to investigate several complaints from residents regarding alleged deviations from the standard of care, mainly by GMH physicians including a complaint brought against then-lieutenant governor Dr. Mike Cruz. Landstrom says the board even sent a letter to then-hospital administrator Peter John Camacho asking that the hospital consider using an outside peer review organization to evaluate the quality of care at the hospital as the board had determined the internal peer review process at GMH was not effective.
A petition was initiative and signed by GMH physicians to have Landstrom removed from the board, which occurred shortly after despite Landstrom still having a year left on his appointment to the GBME. He contends that since former governor Felix Camacho and former lieutenant governor Cruz changed the board, the complaints that were under investigation were dropped and no cases of malpractice were forwarded to the current board and no peer review was conducted by the hospital.
He said, "Obviously bad medicine is being practiced or why do we have these malpractice settlements? It appears that something is very wrong with the peer review process at GMHA and the current GBME that need to be addressed by Governor Calvo and the Guam Legislature for the benefit and safety of the People of Guam."