The news trail has grown cold on Dr. Michael A. Roth, the Detroit area OB-GYN who was found two weeks ago to be carrying pain-killing drugs and “products of conception” in his car—“14 containers of human tissue, possibly fetuses,” according to an Oct. 16 WXYZ report. Dr. Roth lawyered up after the police hauled away bags of medical equipment from his apartment; a gag rule no doubt is in place.
But I keep thinking of the patients who were waiting outside his door for their appointments on the morning TV cameras showed up at his office. If they were there for routine obstetrical care, they might have been shocked to learn that their doc was suspected of performing abortions at home on the side.
How can a woman—or I should say, any healthcare consumer—avoid a nasty shock like that?
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never checked a patient-evaluation website before choosing a doctor. However, after thinking about Dr. Roth’s patients, I’m going to start. We should avail ourselves of all the information available to us.
I heard recently that in order to make a profit under ObamaCare, a doctor has to book a patient every six minutes. It is our job as patients to make those six minutes count. We need to do our research before we see the doctor—both on the medical issue and on the doctor. There is no excuse if we fail to do due diligence in the areas where we still have a choice.
The modern equivalent of conversations with neighbors is consulting websites where patients can rate their doctors.
All such sites give the basics of educational background and nature of practice for the doctors who participate. Some include insurance information and hospital privileges as well as patient comments. Websites where ratings for Dr. Roth could be found include www.vitals.com, www.healthgrades.com, and www.ratemds.com.
Healthgrades.com features a background check. Sanctions, malpractice history, and any medical board actions are listed there too. Unfortunately for Dr. Roth’s patients, the site says it does not collect malpractice information for Michigan. The patient feedback section is only a star system (Roth had 2.9 stars out of a possible five).
On vitals.com, which has lots of space for patient comments, Roth rated three stars out of a possible five.
And then there’s www.abortiondocs.com, where you can find all the abortionists in the country, and all the abortion clinics. Dr. Roth has been listed there for a long time . . . but the women who went to him for pregnancy care probably didn’t know about this site.
Dr. Roth’s file at abortiondocs.com is big. He has been disciplined for drug-related violations and violating patient-consent laws; he has been accused of falsifying medical records; police have been called concerning tangles he has had with his ex-wife and various landlords. It’s all documented on this website.
The cost of Roth’s malpractice insurance would be prohibitive—which might explain why his current practice includes the Novi Laser and Aesthetic Center . . . an odd brand extension for an OB-GYN.
The patient feedback section of the doctor-rating websites is where the rubber meets the road when you’re trying to figure out if you want to go to a given doctor.
Bear in mind that ordinary, satisfied patients will be the least likely to visit such sites and make a report. In other words, most patient comments at any site will come from outliers. But then, isn’t that exactly what you need to know before making a choice: What is the worst anybody can say about this doc?
Back in 2011, one patient at vitals.com commented about Roth: “Very rude to patients, barely spoke to nurse in the room. Acted as if he didn’t want to be there. No one was forcing him to be there. If you don’t like your job quit.”
To give the devil his due, even doctors can have a bad day. So keep looking: What did other patients say at other times?
Two years later, in 2013, another one of Roth’s patients reported this: “After my exam he grabbed my sister’s butt (she accompanied me to the visit and stepped out of the room when the nurse came in to draw blood, which is when this occurred) and told her she needed to gain some weight.”
Enough said. Now you know how to avoid ending up with a Dr. Roth.
What about the opposite problem? How do you find a pro-life OB-GYN?
Start with AAPLOG. Despite its name, the American Academy of Pro-Life Obstetricians and Gynecologists (AAPLOG) no longer limits its membership to OB-GYNS. The search engine at www.aaplog.org will find all doctors who are members, regardless of their specialty.
These sites give straight referrals—name, address, phone number and website—based on the philosophy of the doctor. They do not offer background information or patient evaluations. Patient comments on the other doc-evaluation sites are still valuable.
Health care still operates on the principle of caveat emptor, let the buyer beware.
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Connie Marshner is a commentator and researcher on life and family issues in the Washington, D.C., area.