Thursday, March 21, 2019 -
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An apology is not enough

We all place a great deal of expectation in our doctors. There is a certain trust that we have in members of the medical profession. As patients, oftentimes, when we are sitting across from our doctor, we are in a very vulnerable position, with a sense of our fate resting in the palm of their hands. In many ways they are thought of as G-d’s emissaries; G-d’s healers, here on this earth.

Sometimes, if there is a medical error, even an unintended error such as a bad judgment call by a competent and kind doctor, it can be consequential to the point of loss of trust in this particular doctor-patient relationship.

Seeking medical treatment is a serious and sensitive matter.

I’ve been blessed to know wonderful doctors, doctors who go above and beyond. But everyone sometimes hears about Dr. X or Y whose bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. It happens.

Lara Kollab, a medical resident at Cleveland Clinic, was recently exposed for an online comment she had shared in 2012 — and that she had never taken down. The comment begs the question as to whether this opinion is reflective of her current point of view. The comments reads:

“Haha ewww . . . i’ll purposely give all the yahoods [Jews] the wrong meds . . . ”

Clearly, it’s appalling — and also somewhat surprising, considering that her medical degree in osteopathic medicine is from Touro College, a Jewish institution.

Once exposed for her on record homicidal intent, she has since issued a letter of apology, in which she asks for the forgiveness of the Jewish community.

To me, her letter reads as more of an attempt at damage control. Her regret sounds more for being caught than anything else.

The letter is replete with phraseology that reads as a very catchphrase-y effort to save her medical career and imperiled future. Plus, the anxiety regarding the loans she might be saddled with. While the letter reads more like a justification than true contrition — I mean, her online comment said that she planned to intentionally hurt her patients! — I nonetheless take her apology at face value.

I forgive Lara Kollab.

Forgive, but do not trust.

Youth brings with it headstrong opinions and influences of those around us that impact our thinking and personalities. As we evolve, we may not necessarily agree what we once said or did. And regardless of youth, of course we all make mistakes (“to err is human”). Usually, I do believe in second chances.

But the issue here is not Lara Kollab’s egregious and heinous anti-Semitic opinion.

The issue here is the well known first obligation of a doctor: “first, do no harm.”

So the issue at hand is not about punishing Lara for her hateful rhetoric. It is a matter of not putting her in a professional position to execute her appalling opinion, i.e medical homicide of Jews. I don’t trust Lara Kollab to be in a position to dispense medication or to treat patients. She expressed a desire to exploit her role of access to patients, and to harm them.

To me, that is not a doctor. Without upholding “first, do no harm,” I don’t care what someone’s training is. A doctor, they are not.

And what of the ethical issue as to whether Lara Kollab should she be re-instated as a doctor, given her expressed homicidal intent?

And if she were reinstated, and if she then did in fact intentionally harm someone, what in retrospect would be the medical ethic of her reinstatement?

Being a doctor is one of the most serious professions. Life and death can be in the hands of a doctor. At the very least, a basic level of maturity is required and expected — if not a certain gravitas — coupled with competence.

Of all professions, a doctor is that person you think of as symbolizing humanity and the treatment of all equally.

Often, a true apology can serve as powerful and even transformative moment, proving to be a necessary change agent in a healing process. But in the case of Lara Kollab, I’m afraid that her apology cannot serve to retrieve her medical career.

Her medical license ought to be revoked for life.

The stakes are simply too high.

It literally boils down to placing one’s very life in the hands of one’s doctor.

Lara Kollab doesn’t qualify.



Tehilla R. Goldberg

IJN columnist | View from Central Park


3 thoughts on “An apology is not enough

  1. Blaise Farago

    Even if you are not a jahood, as she put it, that short comment of purposely giving the wrong meds, places her as totally untrustworthy by anyone.

    Reply
  2. Sam Rubinson, MD

    Dear Tehilla,

    I enjoyed reading your column. As a member of the medical profession, I would like to thank you for your praise of doctors in general. It is unfortunate that something like this puts a blemish on a very honorable profession. I am very grateful that G-d gave me the tools and ability to do what I have been able to do for almost forty years. I do not put myself on a platform nor do I compare myself to G-d who is the only one who controls if a patient lives or dies and when. I have always thought of myself as a vessel through which G-d does His work. Fortunately, I believe the incident in your column is rare.

    Reply
  3. Norman Pinn

    Please provide more information on how to get this predator removed from the medical profession. Apologies just wont do it.

    Reply

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