More than 1,500 Physicians Call for Dr. Oz to Resign

Life’s hard when you’re a doctor. We get it. Of the 40% of American physicians who’ve joined SERMO over the years, we see our members come together on all sorts of topics. In addition to members curb-siding with each other on difficult patient cases (all HIPAA compliant, of course) and sharing ideas around healthcare policy, they regularly discuss EHR frustrations, the latest in drug and therapeutic news, practice management tips and emerging medical technology.  And, of course, the topic of their medical peer Dr. Oz has come up in conversation a few times; in fact, last year, SERMO physicians voted him their least favorite celebrity doctor.

With the latest firestorm in the media around Dr Oz, we decided to ask our members if they agreed that Dr. Oz should be removed from his position at Columbia University.  The results were definitive..

Of the 2,029 physicians who participated in our poll as to what Dr. Oz should do next, more than 1,500 physicians (78%) voted that he should resign from his faculty position at Columbia University.  More than 450 (24%) believe he should have his medical license revoked.  The poll is as follows:

Dr Oz should:

57% – resign from his faculty position at Columbia University (1128/1979)

3% – have his medical license revoked (66/1979)

21% – do both, resign from his position at Columbia and have his license revoked (411/1979)

19% – do nothing, I respect Dr Oz as a physician (374/1979)

Dr Oz can’t laugh this claim off as easily as he did on his show.  1,500 physicians is nothing to scoff at.  They’re not backed by big food or representing special interest groups, as he claims.  These are the clinicians and medical thought leaders across an entire spectrum of specialties and practice backgrounds, from rural generalists to his peers in cardiology.  These physicians are speaking up because they care about the information their patients get – PCPs who regularly combat all sorts of misinformation in the marketplace about vaccines and “magic pills”, ER doctors who drop everything to save anyone who’s coming in, with no secret agenda or undue influence from industry , surgeons  and other specialists who are caring for people with a wide variety of chronic ailments and are helping manage complex co-morbidities, or pediatricians who calm our fears as parents.  These doctors are the researchers who tirelessly work to cure MS and rare diseases (most of which affect children), the family practitioner who fights for patients when their insurance companies deny their claim, and perhaps less visible, they are the doctors advocating for truth and transparency about the information you’re fed from other physicians, their own peers, when they think someone of influence has it wrong.

Think viewers don’t take Dr Oz’s advice as gospel?  Think again.  One OBGYN shared:

“I have a patient with…menorrhagia, which she has been trying to manage with herbs over the last year.  So, while she refuses transfusion for no clear reason (not a {Jehovah’s} Witness), I am trying some tricks to get her ready for hysterectomy. When my nurse called to speak with her about other medical clearance the patient said…that YOU [Dr. Oz] are her managing doctor! So, my question is, where can I call to get her records and can you give her pre-op medical clearance?”

This is not uncommon.

We asked Dr Linda Girgis, SERMO member and Family Medicine physician for her thoughts.  She shared:

 “As doctors, patients trust us to pass on the best medical advice to them to enable them to make the best healthcare decisions. We have spent many years studying and training to learn the science behind what we are doing.  Legally, we are expected to practice within a certain standard of care (what other doctors are doing).

It is not acceptable for doctors to invent their own science. We have researchers and organizations that carry out clinical trials in order to keep patients safe. When we throw out that data, we are ignoring patient safety.”

It wasn’t all negative though.  19% of the SERMO doctors polled respect Dr Oz as a physician.  Most of the support voiced was because of his advocacy for GMO labeling.  Even his critics called for him to speak on behalf of physicians more, using his celebrity status for good.  Other physicians are torn, like one of his Cardiothoracic colleagues…

“I have watched Dr Oz operate and he is a good surgeon, seen him interact with patients and he truely cares about them, and performed well done medical research with him. As a heart/lung surgeon I respect him. However, when I watch his show I just cringe when he talks about a pill containing a combination of herbs/roots/chemicals to solve one or any problems or when he talks about womens’ orgasms! Does he (or anyone) really know what that pill does, it’s side/long term effects are, or alternatives to this pill? No good studies have been done on half those pills, and the other half maybe good science but of questionable or no benefit. Which to believe when he speaks? He is using his good and well deserved surgical reputation to mute any criticism or questioning of the promotions on the “show”. It truely is sad. Shame on Columbia for supporting this bad behaviour. Freedom of speech does allow snake oil salesmen to practice but it should not allow a trusted physician to do the same thing while being a physician or supported by a great medical school. Mehmet- if you really want to promote unproven therapies then resign from Columbia and us the small remaining medical capital. If you want to continue to be a trusted doc, then promote RESEARCH that proves these pills work and tell the truth about these products.”

We also asked SERMO doctors to share questions they’d ask Dr Oz, if given the chance.  Then we gave them the chance!  These questions were tweeted @DrOz and can be found at #SERMOasksOZ.

Here is a taste of what you’ll find:

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It’s not easy to be a doctor and make money any other way because of the level of scrutiny you’re put under.  Our doctors understand that better than anyone else.  What is unacceptable is when unsubstantiated advice is given to the public, as a physician, for financial gain.

Dr Girgis shared:

 “A celebrity doctor should be held to the same standards as all doctors. Maybe even more since they are reaching a larger audience. When someone in that position starts giving advice that is not founded on science and has not been proven safe, it is not in the best interests of the well-being of the health of the viewing population.”

We’d like to invite Dr Oz to come in and do a Q&A with our community.  We’re not wielding pitchforks…we’re your colleagues and just want to separate fact from fiction, advocacy from advertisement and ensure that physicians are empowered to deliver the best, clearest, most responsible information we can to patients everywhere.

We discuss this and a myriad of clinical topics inside SERMO. If you’re an M.D. or D.O. in the US or UK, please join us.

 

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