Support Dr. Roland Wong

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onlinediscountanvils

Unionist wrote:
But here's my real question:

The disciplinary hearings seem to have finished in April 2012. What happened?? And why are we waiting for something in July 2013??

The evidentiary phase of the hearings ended in December, when the college ruled that he had "committed an act of professional misconduct, in that he failed to maintain the standard of practice of the profession". The penalty phase started today. I don't know why the process is taking so long.

Mr.Tea

kropotkin1951 wrote:

Prescribing food for poor people is a good way to make a living as far as I can tell. There could be way worse ways. He could be a plastic surgeon specializing in nose jobs and he would probably make way more.  Doctor's are over paid in this country and he seems to have been making about twice the average billings so yes this was lucrative for him.

There aren't that many doctors making anywhere close to that amount of money and I'd guess that most of those who do are highly specialized cardiologists, oncologists, surgeons, etc. and are doing work that goes beyond merely filling out a form. If he filled out 34,000 of these forms over 4 years, if you do the math, depending on how many days per year he worked, he's seeing several dozen patients a day. I doubt that one can provide very in-depth "treatment" when it's basically a lineup of people and you're merely checking of boxes and filling out forms. I don't necessarily agree with you that doctors are "overpaid". I recognize that they have a lot of education and highly specialized skills. I don't mind my tax dollars doing to pay a proper salary for one of the relatively small number of people trained in pediatric oncology or neurosurgery. But $1.8 million over 4 years just to fill out forms that anyone is capable of doing but that you are privileged in doing because of your medical license strikes me as gaming the system.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:
it is unlikely to help someone in Kenora, or anyplace where a willing doctor cannot be found.

Again, this highlights your lack of understanding about this campaign. It was a province-wide campaign. In communities where no local medical professionals could be found, medical professionals from outside the area would sometimes travel to those communities. At other times, people would organize buses and carpools to bring people in to attend one of the clinics.

Mr.Tea

What Dr. Wong did actually reminds me of some of the doctors who give out prescriptions for medical marijuana in California. On a recent trip to San Francisco, we actually got one. Technically, it was my brother-in-law who got the prescription, since he's the one with a California driver's license but he was kind enough to share. It was remarkably easy. There are people passing out flyers for "clinics" where you can go and get a prescription. The "clinic" is little more than a tiny storefront office, with no actual medical equipment or examination area, where a doctor (a real one with an MD and license to practice) is willing to hand out the prescription (technically a "recommendation") for just about any condition you care to name. They even give out a handy list of "acceptable qualifying conditions". My brother-in-law told the nurse or administrator that he had "insomnia". She gave filled out a form, brought it to the doctor and he signed it, no questions asked. In 5 minutes, we had a prescription to treat a condition he didn't even have and it couldn't have been easier. Look, I support medical marijuna. Hell, I support full legalization of marijuana. And I support giving decent support to those in need of assistance. But I don't see signing a form for either the special diet or insomnia-fighting marijuana as being worth $1.8 million. It's gaming the system.

onlinediscountanvils

Unionist wrote:
Is he being charged with just rubber-stamping forms for people who say, "I'm lactose intolerant", without applying detailed diagnostic methods?

That's essentially it. The college's argument is that he was not thorough enough in his assessments, or, that he failed to adequately document his assessments.

As I mentioned upthread, Dr. Wong is the only medical professional who's been singled out for sanctioning. Other doctors, nurses, dieticians, and midwives filled out the forms using the exact same process and criteria as Dr. Wong, yet no one else has been charged with professional misconduct.

Bacchus

Did they do it to the same extent as he? Or to a greatly lesser amount so that by default he becomes the poster child for punishment and object lesson to others?

Mr.Tea

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

As I mentioned upthread, Dr. Wong is the only medical professional who's been singled out for sanctioning. Other doctors, nurses, dieticians, and midwives filled out the forms using the exact same process and criteria as Dr. Wong, yet no one else has been charged with professional misconduct.

Here's the difference: by his own admission, Dr. Wong filled out 14,000 forms in one year alone.

Even if we were to assume that the doctor worked 365 days that year, that still amounts to 38 "patients" every single day for a year. Given that I'm sure he at least took some weekends off and the occasional vacation, you're talking an awful lot of patients and it's questionable just how thorough his "diagnosis" could be. If someone comes in and undergoes a legitimate assessment and gets a legitimate prescription, fine. But someone upthread even talked about sending patients to him when those patients actuall family doctors refused to give them a prescription. This is a prescription mill, not a legitimate medical practice.

Ripple

Yes, a prescription for decent, adequate food.  What sort of legitimate assessment is required for that?

Ripple

dp

onlinediscountanvils

Mr.Tea wrote:
someone upthread even talked about sending patients to him when those patients actuall family doctors refused to give them a prescription.

onlinediscountanvils wrote:
As shartal said, many doctors wouldn't fill out the forms. Most doctors had never even seen them, let alone understood what they were for. They were only relevant to a small, marginalized, stigmatized portion of the population; so many doctors couldn't even be bothered with educating themselves about the special diet.

Bacchus

Ripple wrote:

Yes, a prescription for decent, adequate food.  What sort of legitimate assessment is required for that?

 

When its only available to people with certain medical conditions, then a thorough medical assessment is required.

If the regular welfare alottment was sufficient and this was truly only for those that needed extre, would you be defending him or excusing the mill-like profit atmosphere he operated in?

 

Its not that I dont have sympathy for him but couldnt OCAP have done a bunch of the paperwork then presented it to him so he could then spend time on a real diagnosis and he would have had no issues now?

Ripple

The allotment is insufficient.  I would guess that if it were otherwise, OCAP would not have undertaken this campaign, and Dr. Wong would not have been asked to complete these forms.

 

onlinediscountanvils

Bacchus wrote:
couldnt OCAP have done a bunch of the paperwork then presented it to him so he could then spend time on a real diagnosis and he would have had no issues now?

At clinics, volunteers would often be on hand to help people fill out as much of the forms as they could (things like name, date of birth, address, ID number). Everything else on the form had to be filled-in by a medical professional.

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

until someone proves that they have a better way to improve the lives and the health of Ontario's poor, it's hard to see most of this criticism as much more than concern trolling.

Nonsense.

6079_Smith_W wrote:
this is a terrible way of righting a wrong

Ok... so, what would you have done differently that would have had at least the same level of success in alleviating hunger and improving the health of Ontario's poor? That's 'you' as a poor person or grassroots anti-poverty activist - not as premier, cabinet minister, or billionare philanthropist. What could we have done differently that would have suceeded? Or do you believe that 'success' is less important than making sure that things get done the 'proper' way?

Mr.Tea

Lets try this hypothetical: with current assistance, there's additional money for each child or dependent living with you. Lets assume we all agree that the current rates are too low. Would it be ethical for a doctor to issue a false birth certificate and for a welfare recipient to claim a child that didn't exist in order to get additional (and, let's assume, needed) money? I don't see how falsely claiming medical conditions is any different than falsely claiming dependents.

6079_Smith_W

@ ODA

Can we dial back on the defensiveness please?Again, I have a big problem wiht this method for a number of reasons, but I can see why some might resort to it, even if this doctor's billing is questionable.

As for me, well, in the first place I think you are baiting in a couple of ways, and secondly, the struggle is different in different communities. Here it involves, in part, getting a  grocery store for the poorest part of the city. If I were there, I'd probably be more involved in the garden and basic food end of things, so your quesiton isn't entirely relevant. I am not a doctor.

My point that playing the medical system is bad and unsustainable still stands, even if it means getting food on people's tables in the short term.

And that $1.8 mil paycheque speaks for itself.

 

 

Pogo Pogo's picture

I have no problem with poverty groups promoting this idea.  I commend them for their creativeness.  Good work Online for your part in this.  That said what the doctor seems to be doing was in a large part social advocacy using medical rules.  I don't even care if he bent rules to get people food.  Moreover, it is not fair to ask him not to bill, as that is intrinsic to getting the claim processed.  I do wonder what he has done with the money.  I can think of a number of legitimate expenses:

  1. Additional staff to help process the forms
  2. Travel to other regions (if he was part of the teams mentioned above)
  3. Media work
  4. Other poverty support.

The question to me is not how much he was necessarily paid for getting food to a needy group, but how handled the money once he received it.

onlinediscountanvils

Pogo wrote:
The question to me is not how much he was necessarily paid for getting food to a needy group, but how handled the money once he received it.

Quote:
“A lot of the money went back in taxes,” the 61-year-old doctor told me out front of the red brick college building. “A lot was used to buy food for people — I gave it to food banks.”

The rest, he says, is going to pay his lawyers.

http://www.thestar.com/news/gta/2011/10/03/porter_robin_hood_doctor_gave...

Mr.Tea

Quote:
“A lot of the money went back in taxes,” the 61-year-old doctor told me out front of the red brick college building. “A lot was used to buy food for people — I gave it to food banks.”

The rest, he says, is going to pay his lawyers.

A lot of my money goes back in taxes too. And I actually took the time to treat patients, not just rubberstamp prescriptions.

I assume he has tax records to show just how much went to "buy food for people"?

6079_Smith_W

If I were to turn my business into a corporation I'd be required to audit my finances every year, and I earn a fraction of what this doctor made off these dodgy if well-intended perscriptions.

I trust that he had nothing but good intent, but when we are talking about a health region being out $1,8 million in public funding, I think it is only fair that a claim of donations and legal fees be verified.

Again, these are two completely separate issues.

 

onlinediscountanvils

6079_Smith_W wrote:
when we are talking about a health region being out $1,8 million in public funding, I think it is only fair that a claim of donations and legal fees be verified.

By whom, and for what purpose?

I've provided that quote a couple times now simply because the question's been asked mulitiple times, but frankly, I don't see how it's relevant.

Neither the government, nor the College of Physicians and Surgeons, nor the police have ever said that he wasn't entitled to the payments he received, so what business is it of yours how he spent it? He wasn't paid with the proviso that he donate it to charity. I take him at his word, but frankly, I couldn't care less how he spends his money.

6079_Smith_W

onlinediscountanvils wrote:

By whom, and for what purpose?

Jesus. Do I need to spell it out?

If he is going toclaim that he gave part of that $1.8 million back to charity I think it is fair to know how much, especially given the unorthodox and technically fraudulent nature of the whole scheme. After all, good intentions aside, it's not like he practiced medicine to get that money; he exploited a loophole. So how can he truly claim to have earned it?

I assume you have seen the application form. It's hardly a Canadian Heritage Grant application.

Again, I am sympathetic to this guy, but the amount of that fee (if true) given his claim of poverty advocacy demands some scrutiny. If you don't see that, then I see no reason in continuing with this ping pong game.

 

Sineed

unionist wrote:
I think it's offensive and wrongheaded to single out Dr. Wong for making lots of money given the cause he was personally engaged in. (Sorry Sineed, TB, others.)

Apology accepted Tongue out

But he wasn't engaged in a cause. He was engaged in lining his pockets at taxpayers' expense by gaming the system. I can't fault OCAP for drawing attention to this injustice, but if all doctors behaved like Dr. Wong, they'd bankrupt the province. And then you'd have no social services at all.

 

Unionist

Sineed - I'd still like to know exactly what the charges were against Dr. Wong. The particulars of the charges. After 73 posts, I still can't figure it out. Does anyone know?

ETA: Ok, so I got tired of waiting for someone to answer a simple question and decided to get off my butt and find the answer myself. The 36-page decision of the Discipline Committee (issued in December 2012) is [url=http://www.cpso.on.ca/uploadedFiles/Discipline_Decisions/U-Z/WongR.pdf]h.... I'll read it and see what light it sheds.

 

6079_Smith_W

@ Unionist

You think there are unanswered questions here? You'll have to get in line on that complaint; that is what I have been saying all along. I had to dig and find out for myself that he eventually stopped charging.

Unionist

Read the pdf I posted, Winston. It's quite informative.

 

Pogo Pogo's picture

Can someone explain how he could get this many forms processed without receiving a fee.  Is it the fault of the hungry that this fee is paid?  Should they wait until the system is fixed?  Who should he provide his charitable receipts to, the journalist writing the article ("I gave money to charity, call my office for the receipts if you don't believe me").  Is there a body outside of babble that can provide judgement that one is a worthy citizen?

 

Unionist

Pogo - did you read the decision of the Discipline Committee? Right, wrong, or indifferent, I don't think they blamed him for charging the prescribed fee for forms. Rather, it appears they blamed him for rubber-stamping medical forms without actually verifying the conditions alleged therein.

Not sure why babblers are upset that he charged the prescribed fee. The issue of whether he should have filled out the forms at all, in the way he did, is more interesting to me.

The Discipline Committee made a number of findings, including that he didn't actually do any advocacy for the poor other than filling out these forms in record quick time.

I really would like someone with knowledge of the facts to comment on this document.

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

Not sure why babblers are upset that he charged the prescribed fee.

Disagree if you want, but I think we explained quite clearly why we have a problem with it.  I'm not surprised that the committee focused on the other aspect of it.

Unionist

So Winston, if he had rubberstamped all these forms for free - without paying proper attention to whether what he was signing was medically justified or not - you would have less of a problem with what he did??

I truly do not grasp, in the slightest, the focus on what he billed, given the allegations that he in effect negligently or knowingly submitted forms that were (what's the word?) false.

 

kropotkin1951 kropotkin1951's picture

He took every person who he saw at their word. After reading the decision I think his billing for a partial assessment was wrong but I have no problem with his nod and a wink to poor people getting a dietary supplement.

Unionist

If that's what he did, krop - and I agree, that looks about right - then I admire his motives, but I'm not sure how his methods differ from (say) robbing a bank and distributing the proceeds to the poor. It works fine until you get caught, but it's really really hard to defend as a method of dealing with the problem of poverty. I know of doctors who will sign any sick leave note that they're asked to sign, but it frequently leads to bigger problems for the "beneficiary" worker, and for negotiated sick leave programs as a whole, than the short-term problem it is purported to deal with. Robin Hood tactics only really work when they are implemented on a mass scale.

6079_Smith_W

Unionist wrote:

So Winston, if he had rubberstamped all these forms for free - without paying proper attention to whether what he was signing was medically justified or not - you would have less of a problem with what he did??

I truly do not grasp, in the slightest, the focus on what he billed, given the allegations that he in effect negligently or knowingly submitted forms that were (what's the word?) false.

That's a loaded question Unionist, because this was not a case of him not paying attention; he had a very clear motive - to make sure people got enough food.

Had he done that without charging, or even while charging enough to sustain his practice and himself, yes, I would have less concern about it. But it would still be an imperfect solution to the problem - one that was destined to fail at some point.

To take as much as he did for effectively not doing his job at all and bleed funding from an already stretched system is worse than fraudulent; it makes me wonder what his motivation was in the first place. I don't care if he gave half or all of it back; it's not his money to play philanthropist with. It is money that is taken away from other services.

I don't understand why you think this has to be seen as an either/or situation. There are a number of things going on here - the underlying issue of poverty, this tactic for dealing with it which is good in some ways and questionable in others, and the actions of this doctor - both in terms of doing his job, and taking all this money fraudulently.

 

NDPP

Unionist wrote:

 Robin Hood tactics only really work when they are implemented on a mass scale.

So let's get that going then...

Pogo Pogo's picture

Unionist wrote:

Pogo - did you read the decision of the Discipline Committee? Right, wrong, or indifferent, I don't think they blamed him for charging the prescribed fee for forms. Rather, it appears they blamed him for rubber-stamping medical forms without actually verifying the conditions alleged therein.

In my post I noted that I didn't care that whether he bent the rules to get people the food.  Bending rules is done all the time, and he was working with poverty groups to game the system on behalf of the poor.

What he chose to do with the winfall that came because he was breaking the rules is what I was interested in.  Taken at his word he has used it to pay for costs incurred, taxes and given some to the poor.  As he was working closely with poverty groups, I am inclined to believe him.

shartal@rogers.com

This discussion does not take into account that part of the special diet campaign was to challenge the oppressive definition of entitlement to the benefit that tRight wing politians had established. The Health Care Providers against Poverty were arguing that because of the adverse health effects of poverty a special diet ie different from an ordinary diet, was necessary to help benefit recipient improve their health. The groups I work with argued that benefit recipients who live with severe mental health disabilities needed a special diet, ie different from an ordinary diet, because of both the problems of memory, food rots in fridges, the problems of being unable to cook regularly due to episodic crisis in thinking, fear and or paranoia when people are too afraid to go out, being housebound when depression overwhelms people and related arguments . We also argued that the side effects of medication resulted in specific health related dietary needs.

We all lost but politically our aim was also to focus public attention on the inability of benefit recipients to stay healthy on the money allocated for food..

Finally I always thought that challenging "the rules" was central to social justice..... Did I get it wrong?

arielc

I applaud the campaign and the doctor for getting decent food allowance for people.But ...

 

 

The doctor and his patients all took their chances with the law. They're lucky if all that happens is he gets a professional slap on the hand.

 

 

It may be a just cause, but it's fraud. I question whether it was wise to expose clients to the risk of fraud charges or repayments. The organizers of this action, well intentioned as they are, aren't the ones taking the risks. I hope that the increased public awareness brings some changes.

 

 

 

 

 

Unionist

shartal@rogers.com wrote:
Finally I always thought that challenging "the rules" was central to social justice..... Did I get it wrong?

You're correct. What's not really clear is whether Dr. Wong "challenged" the rules, or just knowingly and secretively violated them. Challenging the rules, to have a chance of being effective and actually changing the rules, usually requires that it be done publicly, proudly, and collectively.

arielc

Pogo wrote:

Unionist wrote:

Pogo - did you read the decision of the Discipline Committee? Right, wrong, or indifferent, I don't think they blamed him for charging the prescribed fee for forms. Rather, it appears they blamed him for rubber-stamping medical forms without actually verifying the conditions alleged therein.

In my post I noted that I didn't care that whether he bent the rules to get people the food.  Bending rules is done all the time, and he was working with poverty groups to game the system on behalf of the poor.

What he chose to do with the winfall that came because he was breaking the rules is what I was interested in.  Taken at his word he has used it to pay for costs incurred, taxes and given some to the poor.  As he was working closely with poverty groups, I am inclined to believe him.

And paying lawyers.
I can only assume he knew his risks, and the publicity for the issue is good.

shartal@rogers.com

He publicly challenged the rules. The clients faced little down side as when the benefit was terminated they were back to where they were before applying. The only people who were at risk were the doctors who filed on the form. Dr. Wong was always very public and very clear about why he was risking his licence, and thus his ability to continue working. The continues to assert that as multiple studies have documented the single greatest action to improve the health of poor people is more money for food. It is the best answer for many health problems from diabetics to heart disease and obiesity. He did it openly, loudly and bravely.
All of which is well documented in the Toronto Media.

shartal@rogers.com

As to the collective action part. In Toronto anti poverty groups organized special diet clinic in the drop ins and one on the lawn of queens park. Dr Wong as one of the service providers who agreed to see clients and fill in the forms publicly.

shartal@rogers.com

As to the collective action part. In Toronto anti poverty groups organized special diet clinic in the drop ins and one on the lawn of queens park. Dr Wong as one of the service providers who agreed to see clients and fill in the forms publicly.

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