Doctor, law student seeks degree to clear physicians of bad-faith peer review
He was born the day the Western Allies landed in Africa in World War II.
He’s a licensed medical doctor and refers to himself as the law school’s only “emeritus” law student.
His name is Eric Grosch, 3L, and he’s a man with a mission.
His mission consists of helping doctors who have been wrongfully blacklisted for instances that were the will of God or by other doctors acting in bad faith.
“I’ve seen a lot of injustice in medicine and as a physician can’t do much about it,” Grosch said. “As an attorney, I can enlist and harness the authority of the court to possibly do good things.”
But before he wanted to become an attorney and before he became a doctor, he was a communications officer in the U.S. Navy.
The year was 1965 and he had just graduated from the University of California, Los Angeles with his bachelor’s degree in engineering.
“For me and my generation, it was the frying pan or the fire: Volunteer for ROTC or AFROTC or NROTC and become an officer, or get drafted as an enlisted man,” Grosch said.
He chose the former and joined the Naval Reserve Officers Training Corps (NROTC) while working on his undergraduate degree.
He said he enjoyed very little of his military experience. He served from June 1965 to 1967. He considered his term an “interruption of the natural arc” of his life. He had been stationed on a destroyer in Norfolk, Va., and then the Navy transferred him across the Pacific Ocean to Guam. Since the Navy had funded his way across the Pacific, he decided to continue westward on a world tour after he stopped serving.
He toured Asia, the Middle East and Europe until March 1968.
“I’m the opposite of Forrest Gump,” Grosch said. “I wasn’t anywhere near this country when some of its important historic events happened.”
Grosch was hitchhiking in Germany when Watergate happened and Grosch didn’t land in Brooklyn, N.Y., until three days after Rev. Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. had been assassinated.
“You may have read about such events in history books,” he said. “It was probably twenty or more years before you were born, right? That’s the way things are with most of my classmates too. They and I are from widely separated generations.”
For the most part, having younger classmates and professors doesn’t bother Grosch because he’s used to the age difference.
“When you get to be my age, nearly everybody’s younger,” he said.
After Grosch returned from his world tour, he worked as an engineer on defense-contracts in southern California. However, the contracts began to go to companies in the northeast, so many engineers in southern California lost their jobs.
Faced with this crisis, Grosch decided to take advantage of the G.I. Bill and use his Vietnam-veteran status to go back to school. He began attending California State University, Northridge in 1970.
It was when he took a class for students to learn how to teach science that he decided to become a doctor. Grosch had to try his partner’s project, which was to dissect a fetal pig preserved in formalin.
“I’d always been squeamish about blood and guts, so I didn’t think I could handle it,” Grosch said.
It turns out it wasn’t as bad as he had imagined.
“I went through the whole exercise and thereby overcame my squeamishness,” Grosch said. “That was the last obstacle that was inhibiting me from a notion I’d had for years to become a physician.”
Grosch said he was so elated that he got a speeding ticket on the way home. He then found a World Health Organization manual of all the medical schools in the world and contacted some of them about the possibility of gaining admission.
After attempts in other countries, Grosch applied to the Royal College of Surgeons in Dublin, Ireland.
At first, RCSI did not admit him, but they did grant him an entrance-examination option.
The RCSI examination was given in two places in the world: South Africa and Dublin, Ireland. Grosch went to Dublin by boat and train, across England, to take it.
“I landed there at the peak of the grass-pollen season and I was sneezing up a storm,” he said.
About a month later, Grosch learned how he fared on the exam that he sniffed, wheezed and coughed his way through.
“To my astonishment, I learned that I had scored No. 1 in the entire field [which included about 500-700 people],” he said.
He was admitted into the Royal College of Surgeons in 1973, where the curriculum takes six years to complete, and graduated in 1979.
The injustices in medicine that Grosch has witnessed over the past 30 years include bad-faith peer review – a practice of unscientific, biased medical review against otherwise qualified doctors – and other evaluation procedures such as board certification, which Grosch said he views as a wholly-owned subsidiary of bad-faith peer review.
“The field of medicine is very competitive, even cut-throat,” Grosch said. In the case of bad-faith peer review, “a group of doctors bands together and targets a ‘colleague,’ who they think is taking patients away from them or who just tried to improve conditions for patients at the hospital and run him out of town on a rail.”
Grosch said he plans to help doctors who have been subjected to bad-faith peer review by bringing cases to court and setting precedents that will “annihilate medical peer review as we know it,” he said.
“It is ironic that doctors have the most profound and extensive training in science, technology, ethics and professionalism of any walk of life,” Grosch said, “yet lawyers, with three years of professional education, claim to keep doctors honest through malpractice litigation. With all due respect to lawyers, something seems wrong with that picture,” he said, referring to the Healthcare Quality Improvement Act of 1986. The act requires doctors who have been investigated and suspended for more than 30 days to be put on the National Practitioner Data Bank.
“More like a national blacklist,” Grosch said, whose name is thankfully not on it. “Once you’re put on that list, you may not be able to practice anywhere in the country. Most of [the list] is based off bad-faith peer review. It’s a plague on the land.”
Grosch said that the most highly trained doctors, such as surgeons, are often in the highest-risk practices and huge damage awards against them distort the liability risk picture for the rest. Grosch has firsthand experience of a patient who suffered an adverse outcome.
In December 1988, a 73-year-old woman died under Grosch’s care. He said she had been a chronic smoker up until age 63, and had a lifelong birth defect that left her with only one coronary artery, instead of two, to control her entire heart system.
They suspended Grosch’s privileges and subjected him to bad-faith peer review until April 1989. The state of Florida followed suit and filed an administrative complaint against him claiming violation of the medical practice act. He won both cases, but since then, prospective employers often consider the hospital’s and the state’s unsuccessful claims “red flags.”
“What good is due process if exoneration does not dispel doubt, so that a mere accusation is enough to ‘justify’ rejecting a candidate?” Grosch said.
According to Grosch, the doctors with no black marks against them are the ones with little to no experience.
The autopsy showed that the blood supply to the patient’s heart was blocked from a combination of the birth defect and further coronary arterial occlusion that she had acquired from her diet and smoking. Previous doctors overdosed her on Thyroxine, a hormone that increases the body’s demand for oxygen. The combination of increased oxygen demand and diminished to absent blood supply to her heart caused cardiac arrest. She had arrested once and was resuscitated before she came under Grosch’s care. She arrested a second time, and Grosch could not resuscitate her.
“I didn’t know it then, but afterward, I found an article that showed that nobody who has had cardiac arrest more than once in a hospital admission leaves the hospital alive,” Grosch said.
She was a patient, like many, who are beyond the help of medical science.
“The body of medical knowledge is a work in progress. The practicing physician must often make clinical decisions based on incomplete information,” he said, “yet medical peer reviewers, engaged in witch hunts against targeted scrutinees, pretend to believe that everything in medicine is cut and dried.”
As he waits to embark on his legal journey to medical reform, Grosch continues to research, practice medicine and perform songs for a crowd. He has been playing the saxophone, trumpet and singing for more than 51 years.
“Delivering an adequate performance in music, as in court, requires practice, practice, practice,” he said. “It’s the difference between success and failure.”