Skeptic News: Another Burzynski case dismissed. But why?

The case against Dr Burzynski brought by the Texas Medical Board has been dropped, to much fanfare from his supporters, but why has the Texas Medical Board (TMB)  yet again failed to hold Burzynski to account?

From perusing the court documents It seems that the TMB are not able to pursue the case because Dr B’s lawyer, Richard Jaffe, has successfully argued that Dr Burzynski did not treat the patients in question and also is not responsible for the physicians that did treat the patients. Far from being the vindication that Dr B’s supporters are celebrating this is more akin to “getting off on a technicality” than anything else. A very odd technicality at that.

For the suit against Burzynski to be dismissed Jaffe argued that Dr B was not responsible for the treatment of a patient at his clinic due to two reasons. Firstly that he himself did not treat the patient, though a member of his clinics staff did, and secondly that he cannot be held vicariously responsible for the actions of other physicians in his employ.

This defence could effectively be seen as saying:

““Burzynski won’t treat you and won’t even supervise or take responsibility for the doctors who will treat you, even though they use untested combinations of off label chemotherapy.”

Regrettably there is a legal precedent for both of these positions and thus Doctor Burzynski has walked free from any responsibility for his actions and the actions of physicians in his employ to the detriment of patients in his care.

Morally this seems astoundingly weasly: Dr Burzynski runs the clinic, he employees the doctors and it is his ANP treatment and supposed “gene targeted therapy” that the brings the majority of patients to his clinic. However because he does not treat the patients himself and cannot be held responsible for the treatment they receive from Doctors on his staff he evades legal responsibility.

In the eyes of the law you may be free from responsibility Dr B. But morally and ethically the fault lies at least equally with you.

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6 Responses to Skeptic News: Another Burzynski case dismissed. But why?

  1. Guy Chapman says:

    Plus, he must be longing for Movember to end so he can stop looking like he’s on the way to a fancy dress do as Gomez Addams

  2. Gomez Addams is better-looking and far more trustworthy.

    No wonder Burzynski is in the US, if that’s how their idea of corporate responsibility runs. He certainly couldn’t plead that in France (probably not the UK either, although I’m not up to speed on UK company law), since there’s a legal principle that you can delegate work, but not the blame. No matter how big the company, it’s the CEO who goes to jail if there is illegal practice.

  3. Jimmy James says:

    Perhaps the TMB should now pursue Burzynskis staff if they gave the dodgy treatments

  4. Narad says:

    No wonder Burzynski is in the US, if that’s how their idea of corporate responsibility runs.

    Keep in mind that this was an administrative hearing regarding the medical license of an individual. The Board not only seems to have misconstrued Sporger v. Worley Hospital to try to create a theory of vicarious liability in this realm, they went so far as to misquote it. Normal agency law is still around for civil actions.

  5. As a pharmacist in the UK, I would be held responsible for the actions of anyone working in a pharmacy whilst I was there, regardless of who they were and what they had done.

    So, for example, say I was in the loo and a member of staff sold something that harmed a patient. Even though I had no idea the sale was happenning, I would still be held responsible and (in the most extreme case) could end up being done for manslaughter.

    This get out clause for Burzynski therefore seems utterly weak and cowardly to me.

    Its not as if he’s going to stop claiming responsibility for the (probably just serendipitous) success stories, as he didn’t treat the patients personally.


  6. Pingback: Burzynski blogs: My Master List | Josephine Jones

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