It happens so fast. A sudden squeal of tires, an explosion of glass fragments, and you find yourself visiting an Emergency Department, perhaps far from home.
As you lay on the narrow gurney observing various strangers hurry past, a woman in a white lab coat approaches, smiles reassuringly and says, “Hello, I’m Dr. Smith, how are you feeling?”
If you’re like most patients, it never occurs to you to wonder whether the individual introducing herself to you is a licensed, well-trained, physician. You willingly place your trust, perhaps even your very life, into the hands of that smiling stranger. Should you?
Generally speaking, the answer is yes. In hospitals all around the country there are professionals who work to assure that Dr. Smith is a licensed, credentialed, competent, physician, whether Dr. Smith works in the Emergency Department, the Neonatal ICU, or anyplace else in the hospital setting.
Medical Staff Services Professionals are a vital part of your healthcare team, but you won’t receive a bill from us, and in most cases, you’ll never know our names. We work, along with Medical and Administrative leadership, to protect patients from unskilled, impaired, or in the worst case, fraudulent physicians. We verify the licenses, education, training, and skills of physicians and other independent providers of care. In addition to hospitals, we work in managed care organizations, ambulatory surgery centers, long-term care facilities, and many other locations. Many of us have achieved and maintain professional certification.
We help to protect the public from people like Dennis Roark, an individual who practiced medicine in the State of Michigan for ten years before his fraudulent credentials were discovered by some of our professional colleagues when he applied for hospital privileges. Dennis Roark never went to medical school. In 1998 he was sentenced to 14 years in prison.
We help to protect the public from people like David Tremoglie, who assumed the identity of a psychiatrist and practiced in various outpatient settings, including Bustleton Guidance Center near Philadelphia. He treated hundreds of individuals before a suspicious patient placed a phone call to the state licensing board in 1996 and discovered that Mr. Tremoglie did not have a medical license. Mr. Tremoglie is now serving a prison term.
In 1992, President George Bush proclaimed the first week of November as National Medical Staff Services Awareness Week. House Joint Resolution 399 read in part: “The professionals who direct or manage medical staff services, from hospital communications to the accreditation of physicians and nurses, play an important role in our Nation’s health care system. This week, we acknowledge the value of such efforts.”
So lay back, relax, and let Dr. Smith take care of you. She’s got the credentials.
For more information about Medical Staff Services Professionals, please visit our National Association web site at www.namss.org
Rita Schwab, CPCS, CPMSM