Everyone Is a Suspect
without exception when there is a breaking news story about some schmo
being arrested for committing a crime, reporters find neighbors who
say they were taken totally by surprise because the accused is such
a nice guy and keeps to himself, volunteers at the food pantry, etc.
There was never any sign that the guy (or gal) might be on the verge
of robbing a bank, embezzling church funds, or kidnapping a couple neighborhood
children. It has happened often enough that I have adopted the philosophy
that you can never really know someone unless you live with him/her
for a long time and are aware of all activities. Such a surprise happened
to Melanie and me a few days ago.
The dentist we have used for
the six years we've been in Erie, Pennsylvania, had his office descended
upon by a legion of law enforcement officers a couple days ago, as
televised by an on-scene news reporter. The guy is licensed not
just as a dentist but also an anesthesiologist for sleep dentistry methods,
so he has a lot of training and degrees. I've had conversations with
him over the years about his family and his recreational flying as a
private pilot. He has been charged with writing prescriptions for a
powerful pain-killing narcotic, ostensibly for use on patients, but
using them on himself instead. If that is the case, versus selling the
drug, then I am inclined to have some sympathy, albeit with qualification.
It is never really OK, in my opinion, to break the law except in
the case of a dire emergency. An example would be using a concealed
firearm to prevent imminent harm to or death of innocent bystanders
when you're not legally supposed to be carrying in that place. Even
then, some minimal degree of punishment is due out of principal, but
the mitigating circumstances would justify leniency. In the case of
my [now former] dentist, I know from the aforementioned conversations
that he sustained a severe back injury a few years ago due to slipping
on ice that caused/causes severe pain. On the one hand I understand
how someone with the access to prescription pain killers would succumb
to temptation to utilize them 'off the record' in order to sustain everyday
activities, including a busy medical practice. On the other hand, my
sympathy is moderated by the possibility that the reason for using those
drugs in the manner charged was because doing so legally might have
been cause for a suspension of a license to practice medicine until
such time as the limitation was removed. That being the case, hypothetically,
patients could have been placed in danger.
In fact, and I might
be opening myself up for deposition by publically writing this, but
in the earlier part of the year Melanie and I noticed during two closely
spaced appointments that he was quite out of character in that there
was noticeably heavy perspiration and unsteady hands. That had never
before been the case. We both remarked afterward that we were glad it
was just for a routine checkup and not to have any dental work performed.
My first thought, not being a doctor or ever playing one on TV, was
either a nasty flu or even something as serious as angina pain. Regardless
of the cause, such a qualified medical professional should have been
able to self-diagnose at least for having the good sense not to treat
patients while thusly inhibited. Well, half a year passed and when calling
the office to inquire about our scheduled checkup appointments I was
told that doctor had suffered a heart attack in the early summer and
was recovering, so we were re-scheduled to see a visiting dentist.
I truly feel sorry for the guy for having risked losing his entire
life's work and his family's reputation (a local boy) for no good reason,
and I wish him well in recovery. However, it is the aspect of potentially
putting patients at risk, if that was the case (a disclaimer for vulture
lawyers), that mandates some form of legal prosecution.
always held that none of us really knows what we'll do in an unplanned,
unrehearsed dire circumstance. Having dealt very recently myself with
prolonged, excruciating pain from a back injury, it is easy to see how
desperation can cause you to take desperate measures (I didn't, for
the record). Just be sure never to place innocents in danger to save
November 13, 2013
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