Dr. Gotcha Caught with his Pants Down

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Who would have thought that we would go from 7 channels to 7000 and get stupider in the process? The value of the Fourth Estate in a democracy is to keep everyone else honest and the freer and freer flow of information – one might have thought – would justly serve to more understanding, more information, and more honest disclosure. But alas, that has certainly not been the case. The explosion of channels, the 24 hour news cycle and increasing ways in which we receive news has led to information overload as portrayed in Alvin Toffler’s 1970 best seller, Future Shock which has in fact predictably resulted in the incredible shrinking of our collective attention span. We are indeed an ADD Nation and the media continue to exasperate us by feeding us news faster and faster in smaller and smaller soundbites. Never mind accuracy. Never mind actual understanding. More and more shrill, more and more incendiary, because as we are channel surfing in our haze of mental masturbation, only the loudest and most outrageous get us to pause on a station the way a hummingbird briefly hovers near a branch.

And when I see the way the media gets things so wrong, so often when reporting on areas I know something about, it really makes me wonder about the accuracy of things they say when reporting on other, sometimes weightier, matters, many of which I know little about. Nuclear deals, climate, economic crises, terror….pieces of cake compared to pain, opioids, addiction, diversion, overdose, death, suffering, quality of life, disability….right? Wrong.

Reporting on the complex issues of pain, opioids, addiction, abuse, overdose and death, is constantly characterized by conflating populations and issues, failing to understand sources of the problem (easier to blame doctors and powerfully addictive drugs and the evil empire …oops I mean pharma….than contemplate the complex deficits exposed in our healthcare system by opioids) and incorrect attributions of data. But in watching I usually cut them some slack; these are complex issues aren’t they? I haven’t necessarily blamed them for willfully trying to be destructive and ignorant.

Until now, because this time, it struck a “painful nerve”, although you’d think a neurosurgeon would understand that and be more careful…

Now, shoddy reporting has hurt one of ours (who has, thankfully, emerged on the other side, back to being a leader; though other than he and his wife and kids who I’m certain know the anguish he went through when his name was being dragged through the mud). And all of a sudden we see that a pattern emerges. The recent news that Dr. Sanjay Gupta might have exaggerated in a self-aggrandizing way, a story of emergency brain surgery he performed in Nepal – and this is only the most recent of such errors, as he has been accused more than once of “cherry picking– makes me think back to when he was transformed into Dr. Gotcha and was chasing around Dr. Lynn Webster (a man whose ethics and contribution to the alleviation of human suffering far and away out-trumps Dr. Gupta). Back then Dr. Gotcha was calling Dr. Lynn Webster, Dr. Death and trying to get him to comment on an ongoing case knowing full well he couldn’t (and wouldn’t) because Webster’s ethical morality would otherwise have violated HIPAA confidentiality if he talked about a patient – making him appear guilty because of his silence.  I thought it was despicable at the time. I thought surely Dr. Gotcha as a physician would know that Dr. Webster couldn’t legally or ethically comment. But Gotcha was not being a physician then – he was Dr. Upton Sinclair. Another muckraker trying to feed the beast and get his voice heard above the hypnotic din his audience lives in all the while raising his own profile. Well when you rake muck, something may fly and this time Gupta was caught with his pants down.  pants-downI bet right now Dr. Gupta would like the whole world to be understanding and cut him some slack. Be understanding of the chaos in which he performed brain surgery in Nepal and announced, God-like, that “Salina will live.”

He wants to be cut slack, shown understanding and granted humanity – none of which he showed Dr. Webster. It disgusts me!

Well guess what. “Dr. Lynn Webster will live.” All the fanfare that accompanied the announcements that he was being investigated and all the claims that made his life a living hell are strangely not there when these silently end for lack of evidence to feed a media frenzy.  I would like to propose that Dr. Gotcha should watch the upcoming documentary trailer of “The Painful Truth” based on Dr. Webster’s upcoming book. I propose that Dr. Gotcha buy 10000 copies, read every one of them, and write “I’m sorry” in the inner cover and then pass them on to every anti-opioid zealot and media muckraker in the country.

But I’m only fantasizing….we all know no one reads books anymore. We have 7000 channels to watch.

Comments of course are encouraged!

9 thoughts on “Dr. Gotcha Caught with his Pants Down

  1. Shame on you SEP PAIN Center in Charlotte, N.C., especially Dr. Richard Park. This doctor installed a morphine pain pump in a relative allowing her to lead somewhat of a life. He refilled her pump for many years. Then Park, along with another doctor decided they did not make enough money on these pain pumps, and therefore decided to drop/dump their patients who had the pain pumps that allowed them to to have some kind of life. This is called “Patient Abandonement”. These doctors left their patients, leaving them with no other options to find someone to refill their pumps. Some of these patients have to be in severe withdrawal as we speak, are severely sick and in a tremendous amount of pain, and are also devastated that they won’t find another physical that will stick by them. Tell me, “When Doctors decide to become business men, who do the people go to for Doctors” ? And, tell me Park “when did you decide to sell your soul to the devil”.

    And, let me ask you this, ” When Doctors start becoming business men, who do the people go to for Doctors ?

    Enjoy the extra money, Spend it with the knowledge that people are suffering due to your choices.

  2. TY Dr. Fudin for holding Dr. “Gotcha” accountable. I had the pleasure of meeting Dr. Lynn Webster at the Center for Practical Bioethics Symposium, Healing What Hurts: The Politics of Pain (on which I wrote a blog). Dr. Gupta deserves to be called out, and in a big way. Dr. Webster is a genuinely caring physician who advocates and educates patients and their providers. I could hardly say this is the case for Dr. Gupta. He has lost his moral compass to notoriety, another Dan Rather. I was always taught you do not make yourself look better by putting others down. I lesson even the famous should learn from.

  3. Jeff – thank you for this blog! I have been watching all this unfold and have been sadly very pleased that a perfect example of – what goes around comes around – is being played out. As someone who has worked with Dr. Webster, been mentored by Dr. Webster and has always admired Dr. Webster, I cannot thank you enough for providing a place for us to make comments. Dr. Gupta should hide from the pain community, as he has now become the victim of his own audacity!

  4. Seldom in life do we get to see those who have unfairly tormented us get their comeuppance! Dr. Webster is much too nice a person to relish this, but I’m not, and I certainly do celebrate it for him. I thank you for pointing this out so eloquently for the world to see. Gupta could not have found a more ethical, caring and effective physician to falsely accuse. But then, how would he recognize an ethical physician?

  5. Fantastic job of exposing the ridiculous behavior of Sanjay Gupta. He is using the unfortunate victims of “newsworthy” events to promote himself at any cost. What he did to Dr. Lynn Webster is inexcusable! Now he galavants around the planet entertaining those who will watch him with the miseries of others, whom of course were made “all better” by his magic hands! What will he do to fix his errors as they add up? It’s too chaotic to worry about, I suppose. Dr. Webster would likely love an answer to this question.

  6. I feel so behind, and ignorant, so to speak. I don’t watch the news. The daily newspaper is used for crosswords and wrapping garbage/fish heads, etc. I read your more than wonderful posts Dr. Jeff, and kind of feel left out. MY FAULT. I did watch a 48 hours. I saw where a woman killed an enemy of her husband. Found innocent at first, while running a PILL MILL in Fla. Then, found guilty because she spout her mouth off to the computer tech who was WIRED. lol……..that’s about it.
    I was brought down to earth this past , well, nearly two weeks. My dog, “effiemae”, died in my arms. She had Cushings disease. Then, two days later her sister Dorisjean died of a Hemangioma. Broke our hearts. Now, the pain is mental too. Two precious family members in two days. TOO MUCH!!! So, the news? NAW!!! I just enjoy reading your posts, keeping to myself and writing every now and then to let you know we are still fighting the fight. Only, these days, very quietly, and sadly……….So much for that. Take care Dr. Jeff, and keep the news coming. Lord knows’ I enjoy reading yours……….Regards, Herb Neeland

  7. 2150 n. clifton av. #1
    Yeah, Gupta is a media made jerk. Calling Webster Dr. Death was as low as someone, especially someone who should know better, was as low as one could go. Did he ever think about the effects of his witch hunt on Dr. Webster’s patients? Of course not, the smell of blood was just to great to pass up. Gupta is nothing but another media hound who should take his scurrilous act to Fox where he’d be a right wing hero, they don’t require facts or the truth there, and Gupta would fit in perfectly.

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