One bad apple too many

It would be strange indeed to find someone who does not owe a debt of gratitude, perhaps for life itself, to health care providers. They see “do no harm” as merely a starting point in tireless efforts to make our lives better.

But every profession has within it a few bad apples, often men and women who began their careers with the best of intentions but, somewhere along the way, took a wrong turn. So it is with health care.

Just this week, a Wheeling physician, Dr. George P. Naum, was found guilty of illegally distributing controlled substances.

A federal court jury found Naum conspired with others to distribute controlled substances from a Weirton drug treatment center, Advance Healthcare Inc. The offenses occurred from 2008-16.

Earlier this year, a St. Clairsville physician, Dr. Rodney Curtis, was sent to jail after he exhausted appeals on a conviction about a year ago. He had been found guilty of three counts of possession and two counts of trafficking drugs.

And last month, federal authorities announced the indictments of 60 health care professionals in several states, including Ohio, for drug crimes.

As we pointed out then, health care professionals have unique advantages in handling controlled substances. One is access to the drugs.

It cannot be emphasized strongly enough that physicians such as Naum and Curtis are outliers. That is, they are a tiny minority of health care professionals, the overwhelming majority of whom look upon the criminals in their midst with disgust, anger and, sometimes, pity.

But the regularity with which wrongdoing in the profession surfaces makes it clear that, just as a grocer has to keep his eyes open for the single piece of rotten fruit, law enforcement agencies must watch the medical profession closely.

Even one bad apple is too many.

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