The Washington State Supreme Court, in its wisdom, a few days ago (December 14th, 2006), literally, for all time, smashed the New York ad agency run “quackbuster” operation’s effort to use individual State Administrative hearings to destroy innovation in health care in favor of the “drugs, drugs, and more drugs” medical monopoly. The sleazy “Plan of ’96” has been thwarted.
Cutting-edge health professionals around the US can breathe a sigh of relief, for the method of attack derived from the filth-encrusted “Plan of ’96” has been declared to be unacceptable by the High Court. And, State Supreme Court decisions carry weight in every area of the US.
I’m proud to be a member, and a leader, in the North American Health Freedom Movement (NAHFM). In the thirteen years I’ve been active I’ve seen massive wins against which might, at one time, have seemed like insurmountable odds. The movement has so many victories, almost daily, they can’t all be nationally documented. There are, simply, so many activists charging at issues I couldn’t begin to meet with all of the groups.
But, I have to admit, this case, the one in front of the Washington State Supreme Court (Ongom v. State of Washington Department of Health, Office of Professional Standards), was not one of ours. Our movement didn’t initiate it I’m sorry to say. It was done by, as the Court states:
Fleeing Africa as a refugee, Alice Ongom escaped to the United States with her family making her new home in Washington.
The people of the US owe Alice Ongom, and her attorneys, a debt of gratitude for their efforts.
What was the Issue? Why does the decision benefit us?
The Washington High Court said, in its opening remarks:
By a mere preponderance of the evidence in an administrative hearing, Alice Ongom’s nursing assistant’s registration was suspended for alleged abuse of a patient. Ongom appealed to the Superior Court which affirmed, as did the Court of Appeals. Ongom v. Dep’t of Health, 124 Wn. App. 935, 104 P.3d 29 (2005). We granted review and reverse, holding due process requires clear, cogent, and convincing proof.
That statement by the High Court is an immense victory for those of us trying to protect cutting-edge practitioners from attack by the drug-pusher’s assault squads. Since the advent of the “Plan of ’96” the tactic used against practitioners using methods others than “drugs, drugs, and more drugs,” was simply to drag healers into an State Administrative Hearing and bring in any buffoon they could find to testify, blathering on, endlessly, usually saying something like; “dat ain’t wad dems call no standard of care. We-uns don’t not use dat voodoo quack stuff…” And, that seemed to be enough. A lot of professionals lost their ability to practice with that tactic used against them.
But that’s all changed now – and this decision will make a big difference. Why? Here’s what else the Supreme Court said:
After concluding a preponderance of the evidence supported the charge of unprofessional conduct and further concluding the violation was “moderate in nature,” CP at 111, the presiding officer suspended Ms. Ongom’s license for 24 months. The presiding officer also ordered her to complete the Healthcare Integrity and Protection Data Bank Reporting Form (section 1128E of the Social Security Act, 42 U.S.C. § 1320a-7e), id., and promptly return the form to the Nursing Assistant Program, thereby establishing a permanent public record of the disciplinary measure.
The nursing home fired Ongom immediately after the incident in question.
Of course, with this action, Ongom’s career was ruined and she was unable to get employment. Of this, the High court said:
ANALYSIS – We review this administrative decision pursuant to the Administrative Procedure Act, chapter 34.05 RCW, and apply the “error of law” standard of RCW 34.05.570(3)(d) to the agency’s legal conclusions. Haley v. Med. Disciplinary Bd.,117 Wn.2d 720, 728, 818 P.2d 1062 (1991). We must determine whether proof by a preponderance of the evidence in a professional license disciplinary proceeding satisfies due process. For the reasons expressed in Bang Nguyen v. Department of Health, 144 Wn.2d 516, 29 P.3d 689 (2001),3 we conclude that due process requires clear and convincing proof. Accord Miss. State Bd. of Nursing v. Wilson, 624 So. 2d 485, 493 (Miss. 1993) (“The standard of proof required for a decision of the Board of Nursing in cases involving fraud or conduct deemed quasi-criminal in nature is clear and convincing evidence.”); Hogan v. Miss. Bd. of Nursing, 457 So. 2d 931, 934 (Miss 1984). Accordingly, we reverse and dismiss.
As stated, the identical issue was resolved in our recent Nguyen decision. Dr. Nguyen was disciplined under the same statute (RCW 18.130.180) as was Ms. Ongom. As is always the case, there are certain factual and technical differences between the proceedings; however, we conclude the differences do not constitute a distinction justifying disparate treatment for Ms. Ongom under the generalized considerations set forth in Mathews v. Eldridge, 424 U.S. 319, 334-35, 96 S. Ct.893, 47 L. Ed. 2d 18 (1976).5