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Texas Prisoners Get Second-Rate Doctors

Texas prisons have become a refuge for several doctors with troubled pasts. The Dallas Morning News identified eight physicians working in state prisons after having been disciplined by medical review boards.

The state of Michigan in June 1990 revoked Dr. Robert A. Komer's medical license for sexually abusing six patients. Komer did not contest allegations in sworn affidavits that he drugged several patients and then fondled them. Or that he instructed a woman with a personality disorder to perform oral sex on him at the end of therapy sessions.

Komer moved to Texas in 1990, was placed on probation by the Board of Medical Examiners, and ordered to undergo psychiatric treatment. He was also given a job as a psychiatrist for prisoners at the state Pack and Ferguson prison units.

Five of the other cited doctors are practicing with restrictions ordered by the Texas Board of Medical Examiners, with three others on probation as recently as 1994, according to records obtained by newspaper reporters.

Dr. Michael Warren, health care director for the Texas prison system, said that with almost 140 doctors on staff, it is not unusual that some would have problems.

Salaries of the eight cited doctors ranged from $111,000 to $130,000 annually, according to state records obtained by the newspaper under the Texas Public Information Act.

Since prisoners have no choice in who their medical provider is, an incompetent doctor could mean a death sentence, said Marta Glass, a nurse and prisoner's advocate with Citizens United for the Rehabilitation of Errants (CURE).

"I think the amount of tax money we're paying to provide for these doctors dictates that we provide good medical care," she said.

Palestine Herald Press

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