DENVER - A Denver woman whose 10-year-old son died minutes after an emergency room visit is making a heartfelt plea to state legislators: make the records of disciplined doctors public.
This mother said that information could have saved her son's life, but medical professionals are fighting back.
Deborah Saeed Gay said the doctor who treated her son was allegedly high on drugs and never should have been practicing in the first place. She said patients should know when their doctors are having problems.
It was Christmas Eve 2016 when Saeed Gay's son Isaiah Bird had what his parents thought was a severe case of croup.
At the advice of his pediatrician, the child was taken to an emergency room. An attorney said he was barely able to breathe. However, he was sent home. But first, he and his father made a stop at a Walgreens.
"He had gone inside to get some medication and some soup for Isaiah and left him in the car. And he went in to find his dad and collapsed in his dad's arms," Saeed Gay said.
The child’s family filed a lawsuit claiming negligence.
The family’s attorney said he was told by another doctor that the ER physician was known to be using illegal drugs.
“If there had transparency regarding the doctor, then my son would probably still be alive today," Saeed Gay said.
Currently, hospitals' internal disciplinary peer reviews are private. Saeed Gay is fighting to make them public.
"And you’d be able to look to see if, in fact, they have been subject to discipline and the factual basis surrounding the discipline," said Michael Kane, Saeed Gay's attorney.
Not everyone agrees, however. Katie Wagner, a certified midwife who has done reviews herself, said the idea is problematic.
"I think that people would be reluctant to report if they felt that they were discoverable," Wagner said.
Making personnel matters public, Wagner said, would stifle the process, "because I think peer review needs to stay a safe place for physicians, for advanced practice nurses, for nurses, to discuss challenging cases, and in that discussion, come up with the best potential situations to improve patient safety and improve patient outcomes."
A coalition of medical professionals said the existing peer review process improves patient safety and quality by helping evaluate the competency of staff.
The debate over whether changing the law could have saved Isaiah’s life will continue.