Texas Prisons Staff Tainted Doctors
By Christopher Zoukis
The question of credentials in a prison setting has a very dark answer. Sadly, those who work in prisons tend to fall below the private industry bar. For one reason or another they are rejected by private industry but accepted with open arms into the various prison systems. Texas is one such system. Dr. Walid Hamad Hamoudi is one such doctor.
In 2006, the private pain clinic operated by Dr. Hamoudi was given a signed statement from Aaron Goodman informing them that he was a recovering drug addict and that he wanted them to refuse to prescribe him any more pain medication. Mr. Goodman was making a step in the right direction for a recovering drug addict. He was attempting to protect himself from himself and his addiction. But common with drug addiction and its treatment is the reality of relapse. Sadly, Mr. Goodwin relapsed and went to Dr. Hamoudi's pain clinic. While there, against his signed statement's wishes, he was prescribed pain medication which led to his death - an overdose.
In response to the overdose, Ms. Goodman, the victim’s mother, filed complaints with law enforcement and with the Texas Medical Board. Because of her complaints Dr. Hamoudi's pain clinic was searched by law enforcement. This search led to the Texas Medical Board holding a hearing about Dr. Hamoudi's misconduct in regards to his treatment of 10 different patients.
On June 4, 2010 the Texas Medical Board decided Dr. Hamoudi's fate. They decided that he had to pay a $5,000 fine, take an exam to prove his medical knowledge, and participate in an additional 20 hours of medical training; one could only hope in ethics. But the final condition is what bothers most. The Texas Medical Board restricted who Dr. Hamoudi could practice medicine on. They restricted him to only practicing on prisoners for a time period of three years.
Clearly something is wrong when a doctor, who contributed to the death of a patient, while being aware of the patient's medical complications with drug addiction, is allowed to continue practicing medicine, let alone escape criminal charges. What makes this even worse is that not only is he still allowed to practice medicine, but he is placed in a setting where he is the only medical professional for persons to go to. In prison we don't have a choice when it comes to who treats us. We can't request a different doctor or even see the credentials or professional history of the doctor who is treating us. This creates a real health and safety threat for all who are being treated by such a tainted medical professional.
In response to the tremendous abuses of power and common sense promulgated by the Texas Medical Board and the doctors it oversees, the Texas legislature has passed legislation which created a pain clinic registry. This is a laudable step in the right direction. As Ms. Goodman said, "I fault doctors like Walid Hamoudi for prescribing unnecessary and highly addictive drugs in large quantities to people like my son...He needs to be held accountable for all the pain and misery he has brought on countless families." Hopefully the pain clinic registry will stop this heinous action from occurring in the future.
While this will help protect the general public, this does nothing for the millions of prisoners who are now and will be in the future subjected to tainted doctors such as Dr. Hamoudi. Practicing medicine on prisoners shouldn't be a punishment, it should be a responsibility as it is outside of prison. As long as the Texas Medical Board continues to subject prisoners to such malicious medical care, we will be the silent victims of medical abuses. I can only pray that the next patient/victim Dr. Hamoudi practices on isn't your son or daughter.