Historic Day for Lyme Doctors & Patients

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On Thursday March 14, 2013, history was made in Hartford, CT.  Aspects of the longstanding CT State action against Connecticut Dr. Charles Ray Jones were brought before the Connecticut Supreme Court.

History of Dr. Jones’ Case
Dr Jones was disciplined by the CT State Medical Board which reprimanded him, fined him, and placed him on probation. The case involved Lyme disease in two out-of-state children.  He appealed the proceedings of the medical board to the Superior Court which upheld his appeal in part.   

He then appealed further to the Appellate Court.  He claimed there that the Superior Court wrongly determined that the “preponderance of evidence” standard, a low standard of evidence, was used by the CT Medical Board and that the more stringent “clear and convincing” evidence standard should be used, the same standard used in disciplining attorneys.
 
The Appellate Court rejected that claim, saying the body conducting attorney discipline and the one conducting doctor discipline are not the same type of bodies, with the Medical Board being an administrative agency under the Uniform Administrative Procedure Act, while the attorney disciplining board is not. According to the Appellate Court, the type of evidence used to govern the medical board proceedings rested on that fact.
 
Current CT Supreme Court Case
2013 Jones Hearing EPDr. Jones & Attorney Elliott Pollack
Dr. Jones Attorney, Elliott B. Pollack, argued the position before the CT Supreme Court that doctors being brought before the Connecticut State Medical Board on charges─ which can severely impact their career  should have the evidence against them be brought to a higher level than is now required, that higher level the “clear and convincing” standard.  He argued that the standards used in discipline against doctors and lawyers should be at the same level, since actions of lawyers could have almost the same impact on lives as the action of doctors. If one argues that doctors’ actions have higher level of impact, then how can one hold them to a lower standard in medical disciplinary proceedings.
The State argued that it is holding doctors to a less stringent standard and lawyers to a higher one due to the significant fiduciary relationship when lawyers are involved. Also, protecting public lives is at stake.

2013 Jones Hearing GrpLDA President Pat Smith was in attendance at the proceedings as were several other Lyme disease community leader representatives. According to Ms. Smith, “the outcome of today’s proceedings could have a positive impact on the lives of tens of thousands of Lyme disease victims nationwide. But just the fact that the case made it to the CT Supreme Court, which only hears 3-7% of cases brought before it, is a positive outcome which shows there is merit to the arguments made by Attorney Pollack.”

She continued, “After reviewing disciplinary actions against physicians nationwide and attending the State hearings against Dr. Jones, I can say that what has happened to him over the past 10 years and to other doctors is a travesty in which, in my opinion, justice has taken a back seat to the bias of vested interest. 

 
picture caption:
Pat Smith, Lyme Disease Association; Diane Blanchard, Lyme Research Alliance (LRA); Dr. Charles Ray Jones; Debbie Siciliano (LRA); Judy Leventhal, PhD; Sheila Statlender, PhD (Not pictured)