Doctors Behaving Badly: Mississippi makes public pony up for peek at doctor histories
Approaching the half-way mark in Antidote's tour of state medical boards, I thought I had seen every conceivable public records sin. Unnecessarily clunky websites. Redacted records. Demands for written requests.
The Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure adds a new offense against its citizenry: greed.
To find out anything about a doctor licensed by the state of Mississippi, you have to pay. Mississippi, like every state in the union, is a public institution funded by taxpayer dollars. Unlike every other state, though, it likes to boast that it is a leader in "transparency." It even has created a website called www.transparency.mississippi.gov to brag about the way it is opening doors to the public.
How does a state committed to transparency force the public to pay cash to see already-digitized public records? How does it reconcile its transparency message with forcing the public to provide their names, home addresses, and email addresses just to see if their doctors have any problems in their history?
It is a true irony that the Transparency State would ding Dr. Zvi Marom for false representation. Marom was licensed to practice medicine in New York in 1975 then licensed in Mississippi in 2004. In between those years, Marom was caught by New York fibbing about his credentials when applying for reappointment to the Department of Medicine at Parkway Hospital in Forest Hills, New York, in March 2000.
He told Parkway that he had never failed a specialty board examination. In fact, he was in the unusual position of having failed the American Board of Internal Medicine's exam in 1986, 1988, and 1989, according documents filed by the New York State Board for Medicine. He'd also tried to slip one past the American Board of Internal Medicine itself. In 1999, that board revoked his ability to even take the certification exam because of "a false representation of his board certification status in the State of Israel," according to New York.
All of this led Marom to cut a deal with the New York medical board in December 2001 that gave him three years of probation. The state of New York makes all of his information easy to find and provides it free of charge, to everyone.
Somehow, the crack team at the Mississippi State Board of Medical Licensure did not find any of this out, though, until nearly a decade later, in 2009. Marom had applied for a license in Mississippi in June 2004. For some unexplained reason, the state granted him a license but forced him to restrict his practice to correctional facilities. Prisoners, the theory seems to go, have no right to high quality medical care.
Marom complied for a while. He worked for Correctional Medicine Services at the prison in Parchman, Mississippi. This is the same prison that was shut down in June 2010 because of inhumane conditions and a lack of medical care.
He was supposed to ask for permission from Mississippi every time he changed office locations. Perhaps not surprisingly for a guy with a pattern of prevarication, Marom only partially complied with this request. He did, indeed, let Mississippi know when he changed workplaces, by filling in a new practice location on the board's website. But Marom moved around the state a lot. Between 2007 and 2009, he worked at Bethany Medical Clinic in Cleveland, Hardy Wilson Memorial Hospital in Hazlehurst, Jefferson Davis Community Hospital in Prentiss, Montfort Jones Hospital in Kosciusko, and Winston Medical Center in Louisville. He reported some of these changes of address, but not all of them.
Still, none of these address updates managed to catch the attention of the Mississippi medical board. It took an anonymous report in November 2009 that Marom had been kicked out of the ER at Hardy Wilson for "substandard care" to spur the board into action.
And how is this for action?
In May 2010, the board suspended Marom's license for 12 months. Two months later, though, the board had a change of heart and lifted all restrictions on his license. As with so many things related to Marom's past, the reasons for this are unclear.
Final question: What does it cost to see what little of Marom's history the state of Mississippi is willing to share? It cost me $27.09 for 21 pages - more than a buck a page. This is the first time in more than a decade of writing about doctors that I have had to pay to look at an electronic medical board record, which I'm providing here as a public service. If the board is going to charge extortion prices for the public to review public records, it could at least have the decency to make a site that is easy to navigate. Take a look at this and tell me it doesn't make you want to scream.
To see Marom on the Doctors Behaving Badly Google map, click here.