Is JAMA Censoring Physician Dissent?

Allegedly Stoops to “Name-Calling”

By Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA, CMP™dem24

According to the Wall Street Journal Health Blog, Jonathan Leo, a professor of neuro-anatomy from a small university in Tennessee, critiqued a study published in the Journal of the America Medical Association [JAMA], and pointed out an association between the study’s author and a pharmaceutical company. He posted his thoughts on the website of the British Medical Journal [BMJ].

JAMA Responds

According to the report, a none-too-happy Leo then received calls from JAMA’s executive deputy editor, one Mr. Phil Fontanarosa. And surprisingly, Editor-in-Chief Dr. Catherine DeAngelis, MD got involved by asking Leo’s superiors to retract his post from the BMJ’s site. Sound familiar ME-P readers? According to Keven Pho MD, the WSJ called Dr. DeAngelis for comment, and this is how the interview allegedly went:

“This guy is a nobody and a nothing.”

She said of Leo.

“He is trying to make a name for himself. Please call me about something important.”

She added that Leo

“Should be spending time with his students instead of doing this.”

When asked if she called his superiors and what she said to them, DeAngelis supposedly said,

“It is none of your business.”

Environmental Scanning

One can only wonder if the AMA has adopted the strategy of former CDC Director Julie Gerberding, of Atlanta, GA. Local gossip suggests that one initiative under her noxious leadership was her so-called policy on “environment-scanning” or, monitoring the news-media, internet space, blogs, wikis and other venues to identify “emerging threats to the agencies” reputation.” WOWSA!


An Alternative Theory

My alternative opinion is the AMA might be taking censorship lessons from Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico [BCBSNM], and its’ public-relations representative and former reporter, Ross Blackstone of the Health Care Service Corporation [Blue Cross and Blue Shield of Illinois, New Mexico, Oklahoma and Texas].

Monitoring the ME-P?

Or, perhaps they are reading [Think: monitoring] this Medical Executive-Post itself? They may even be teaming up with Becky Kenny [media relations specialist with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico] who goaded [threatened?] the trade magazine ModernHealthcare. As ME-P readers know, ModernHealthcare is an advertiser-driven media outlet that removed a perfectly acceptable post of diverging eHR opinion from its blogsite?

Industry Shame

Such acquiescence is both a sign of shameful health insurance industry [BCBSNM] heavy-handedness, and poor journalistic ethos from ModernHealthcare’s leadership. The BCBSNM public relations hacks, and media representatives, also appear as clueless shills who are no-doubt glad they are employed in these troubling economic times.

In other words, do they do what they are told? Jump Rover! Fetch Fido; etc! Or; are they more like the innocent child who spills grape juice on a white carpet? Let’s simply forgive them for their brainless duplicity. Yet, MH capitulated; how unfortunate!


Doctors Censoring Patients [The Retro-Evolution]

By the way:

“What’s up with all this censoring?

The Internet has been publically available to the masses since 1995, and I was using electronic bulletin boards [eBBs] years before then. The next thing you know, doctors will start trying to censor the opinion of their patients, much like customers rate restaurants.

Ops! My bad! This has already occurred. Sorry!

The ironic thing here is that patients don’t know about quality care. But, they do know if they’ve been kept too long in the waiting room; or, if the doctor’s office staff was surly; or, if the doctor had a miserable bedside manner. So, the doctors are really being rated on their personality; not their medical acumen. I pity the fools. These medical guys, and healthcare guru gals, just don’t seem to realize that “perception is reality.”  But, they sure feign outrage at poor patient reviews.



From my perspective, this is another public-relations disaster for JAMA, and especially Dr. DeAngelis, who must have known she was on the record with a national newspaper. After all, she is the editor of JAMA. Maybe not however, as we have previously opined that professional experts are not necessarily professional journalists.


Of Cover-Ups and Crimes

“But, one must still wonder aloud; is this cover-up becoming worse than the proverbial crime?”

Resorting to personal attacks is somewhat unbecoming of the editor-in-chief of a prestigious medical journal, and reflects poorly on JAMA; don’t you think? Then again, JAMA and the AMA itself, is not as prestigious as it once was; is it?

In fact, when I asked ME-P managing-editor and Professor of Health Administration, Hope Rachel Hetico; RN, MHA, CMP™ to opine on admitted third-party limited information; she graciously replied with the utmost gentleness:

“With less than 25% of the nation’s MDs in the AMA; JAMA is probably still somewhat prestigious to those who don’t know any better; but many of us do know better. The older generation just needs some-time to catch up to modernity, and transparency – or resign. The top-down and command-control model of leadership is long gone – please be patient with them.”




And so, your thoughts and comments on this Medical Executive-Post are appreciated. Should Catherine DeAngelis MD resign over this incident? Please criticize or defend her actions. Is healthcare industry censorship on the rise – or is the industry just following-the-money? What do you think of ModernHealthcare or BCBSNM?

Is personal integrity – or scrutiny – the reason Joseph Biederman MD [Harvard’s controversial chief of pediatric psychopharmacology] ended his ties to the pharmaceutical industry recently for diagnosing bipolar disorder in children [as well as for the nature of big-pharma’s support behind his research]? Please opine.

Industry Indignation Index: 63

Disclaimer: I am not a member of the AMA. But, for a decade I was on the editorial staff of both a leading national medical, and surgical journal, back-in-the-day. I am currently the Editor-in-Chief of Healthcare Organizations [Financial Management Strategies] a 1,200 page, quarterly premium print-journal, available on a subscription basis.


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18 Responses

  1. Enter the JAMA Censors

    According to Tracy Staton, the Journal of the American Medical Association [JAMA] may be fighting to keep internal arguments over conflicts-of-interest with big pharma a secret.

    But, in public, it’s advocating strict limits on industry funding for medical associations. More to come soon, from the ME-P, on this developing situtation.


    Are JAMA, Julie Gerberding and BXBS-TX reading from the same playbook.

    Ann Miller; RN, MHA
    [Executive Director]


  2. Doctors Censoring Doctors
    [Resign Now – DeAngelis]

    Post Script

    Did you know that JAMA, according to MedPage, apparently and rather forcefully responded to the situation above by attempting to preempt any form of criticism?

    “The person bringing the allegation will be specifically informed that he/she should not reveal this information to third parties or the media while the [internal] investigation is under way.”

    Furthermore, according to Kevin Pho MD, this is a heavy-handed response and shows how out-of-touch JAMA is with a world where information moves at blog and Twitter-speed. And, to think that JAMA can squelch information while it conducts a months-long internal review is a naive worldview that is stuck in the 1990’s.

    Indeed, as reported by internist Roy Poses, “the journal’s leadership seems to have somehow lost their way. Instead of trying to constructively respond to criticism, they now seem intent on punishing the critics. I hope they find their compass soon, before an important medical institution really is irreparably damaged.”


    In my opinion, JAMA has been damaged for some time now.
    Both JAMA and the AMA should apologize.
    Cathy, the editor, should resign now!

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko; MBA


  3. Reading your words, Ann and David, gives me goose bumps.

    The crack in the hard shell of cause-I-said-so science begs for purchase and leverage. Pry hard.

    D. Kellus Pruitt


  4. Dr. Marcinko, Pruitt and everyone

    JAMA Editor Being Investigated

    “In accordance with the Editorial Governance Plan for JAMA, this entire matter is being formally referred to the Journal Oversight Committee (JOC). The AMA is requesting that the JOC examine the concerns related to Professor Leo’s inquiry and upon completion present its findings to the AMA Board of Trustees. The AMA Board will give careful consideration to whatever is reported to it by the JOC.”

    Here is the link for more:



  5. Dr. Marcinko

    You called for her resignation first, here on the ME-P. Keep up the investigative reporting.

    Doctor Greyson


  6. Now – is JAMA Exaggerating?

    Cancer society reconsiders message about risks and potential benefits.

    Ann Miller; RN, MHA
    [Executive Director]


  7. Hey JAMA

    How about some principles in healthcare reporting? Even the journalists have them [cheese].



  8. What does the AMA Need?

    1. Viagra
    2. Euthanasia
    2. It’s already DOA





  9. Dude,

    The ME-P is being monitored by the BCBSNM, and here is the proof.



  10. Otto,

    I followed the link, but I don’t see what your are referring to. Can you be more specific?



  11. Darrell,
    I think he is referring to the 10th and 12th articles, down from the top.


  12. Thanks, Otto and Ann

    Have you noticed that these days accountability for bad corporate decisions no longer fades with time? As a matter of fact, it appears to me that blame is cumulative and it ages badly.

    I found the links to the two ME-P articles you pointed out – including this thread – on We can only hope that you are correct, Otto. I assume officials of BCBSNM are painfully aware of the chunks that are falling away from their reputations. That would be progress.

    The other ME-P link is from March 4, 2009 and is titled “Don’t Rush Into eHRs.” I am the author.

    I found myself re-reading ex-BCBSNM employee Martin Ethridgehill’s prophetic cautionary points concerning eHRs in the letter he posted on It is titled “Don’t Rush eHRs Without Addressing Medical ID Theft,” but is no longer posted.

    – Adding safety and records mitigation protocols ensures patient safety as an ongoing concept and practice.

    – No industry would be allowed to operate, where the officials in charge of it stated that the market or other bodies would be responsible for creating safety procedures. Can you imagine if the auto industry stated, “We make cars, let the market figure out how to regulate safety”? I doubt that Congress or any other body would consider these people as remotely credible, yet I hear time and time again these statements being made in public and private forums by executives, lobbyists, and even so-called healthcare leaders.

    – For the public and providers to embrace a product that has no regulation, no built-in safeguards and obviously no importance to safety from the makers of these products, why would Congress expect the American public or healthcare providers to embrace a product or concept that involves the unregulated risk of injury, death, or staggering liability opportunities, let alone without any hope of remedy or proper relief?

    Ethridgehill’s letter remained posted only a short time before Becky Kenny, media relations specialist with Blue Cross and Blue Shield of New Mexico, persuaded the publisher of to withdraw Ethridgehill’s plea for caution. She said that his opinions about the danger of rushing into eHRs do not represent the views of BCBSNM.

    The last time I thought about Becky Kenny’s defense was a month or so ago when BCBS fumbled over 800,000 physicians’ identities.

    D. Kellus Pruitt; DDS


  13. FL Docs Voice ‘No Confidence’ in AMA too!

    The Florida Medical Association sent a letter of “no confidence” to the American Medical Association expressing its feelings that the AMA did not represent doctors’ wishes during the healthcare reform debate.

    “It is important that the FMA continues to advocate for Florida’s physicians and our 20,000-plus members and ensure that Florida’s physicians stay engaged as we develop federal policy and advocacy positions on behalf of organized medicine,” said Madelyn Butler, FMA president, in a news release. “Therefore, the FMA will continue to send a delegation to the AMA’s annual and interim meetings.”

    Originally, some doctors wanted the FMA to sever all relations with the AMA, said Tampa orthopedic surgeon Michael Wasylik, an FMA delegate who also served as an alternate delegate at the AMA House of Delegates meeting this past June. A vote to break off from the AMA, however, was never taken. Instead, Wasylik said, neurosurgeon David McKalip introduced a substitute resolution to send a no-confidence letter to the AMA leadership.

    Source: Andis Robeznieks, Modern Healthcare [8/16/10]


  14. It’s about time!

    The AMA has named a new editor-in-chief for that journal, Howard C. Bauchner, a pediatrician from Boston University School of Medicine.

    Bauchner replaces Catherine DeAngelis – editor-in-chief for the past 11 years – who is returning to Johns Hopkins, where she will develop a Center for Professionalism in Medicine and the Related Professions. During her tenure, issues of professionalism in medical publishing – such as conflict-of-interest and ghost writing – received considerable attention.

    Dr. David Edward Marcinko MBA


  15. On Censorship, ADA Facebook and Dentistry Today

    If an anonymous sales rep censors a question on the internet for whatever reason, should a responsible citizen just walk away – respecting a nameless employee’s judgment of what her customers should be protected from reading even if it’s available to thousands elsewhere in the community?

    Over the weekend, without warning or explanation, a nameless moderator of Dentistry Today Facebook deleted a question I successfully posted on several other venues concerning the ADA Facebook. I’m a tolerant person, but I have no respect for shy, command-and-control business leaders who condone treating customers with anonymous disrespect.

    That is why I eagerly accept my civic duty to hold deceptive PR-types personally accountable to my community – even if I never actually know if they are female or male. I should explain that I’ve grown fond of assigning anonymous people female gender because it’s more economical than writing “he or she” again and again.

    What’s more, if I’m wrong, the little tyrant cannot object to being called a woman precisely because he chose anonymity. That’s just got to be a special kind of trap. On the other hand if my guess is correct, that’s special as well. Women are by nature much more likely than men to torture themselves and those around them wondering, “Who told him it was me? I bet it was ….” and BOOM! Deep in a Dentistry Today office somewhere in the nation, the knives come out and civility takes a vacation…. Sorry, friends. Such fantasies are the modest perks of my adventure.

    We’re not laughing at you, Dentistry Today. We’re laughing with you.

    I posted this a few minutes ago on Dentistry Today Facebook under yesterday’s comment that Margaret now knows better than to delete.

    “I wish to thank the Dentistry Today moderator for finding the courage to resist censoring my question about the mysterious ADA Facebook a second time. No question is a stupid question, right, Anonymous? And if in a period of 2 years, the ADA has created over 12,000 disappointed ADA fans with its unopened Facebook, isn’t it reasonable for someone to ask why? I think hiding the rudeness of another business harms consumers and should be publicly discouraged.”

    D. Kellus Pruitt DDS


  16. Update

    Since the Dentistry Today Facebook produces very little content and stimulates almost no support from customers, today you watched me literally take over control of their Facebook unopposed. Am I unprofessional to enjoy kicking Dentistry Today’s butt one more time – just to discourage anonymous rudeness? Here’s the stinker I just posted:

    “Actually, Margaret, it’s silly that you’d risk censoring a dentist to prevent your fans from learning about the ADA’s tragic inability to open a simple Facebook. Within hours, the Medical Executive-Post picked up my description of our encounter. (See: “On Censorship, ADA Facebook and Dentistry Today.”)

    Since the ME-P has over 300,000 readers, who are you really trying to protect? Your 758 fans or your shy boss?”



  17. I must have pushed my luck too far with my question concerning who Margaret was trying to protect, because within minutes, she deleted all three comments I had posted on the Dentistry Today Facebook and blocked me from posting a fourth.

    Then again, I may have been blocked because I asked Dr. Barry K. Freydberg, Dentistry Today’s designated “Technology Leader,” whether paper dental records are safer than electronic for a second time this week. He never responded to the question last week.

    I may also ask Dr. Freydberg if he has ever criticized dentists’ handwriting as a selling point for e-prescribing. (See: “No decrease in errors for digitial prescriptions,” by Deborah Kotz, Globe Staff).



  18. Don’t ever censor me, Dentistry Today
    [I sent the following letter to Senior Editor John Lannon today]


    Dear John Lannon, Senior Editor, Dentistry Today:

    For the future credibility of Dentistry Today as well as its Editor-in-Chief, Damon C. Adams, DDS, it’s time for you to give up your outdated command-and-control oppressive methods. This isn’t the 1980s. You lost your edge in our recent struggle over a decade ago.

    Today, you are experiencing the transparency good ol’ boys everywhere fear. You know who I am and I know who you are. You are the Dentistry Today official who ordered an anonymous employee, whom I call Margaret, to censor my perfectly reasonable question: “As of today, the ADA Facebook has 12,000 fans. Anyone know why it still hasn’t opened?” Why would you choose ADA Executive Director Kathleen O’Loughlin to shield from accountability, over catering to a dentist’s interests?

    Margaret didn’t even give me the common decency of a warning or explanation for her rudeness. That makes you, John Lannon, the biggest Dentistry Today heel in this tragic adventure for directing an innocent employee to be unethical. Shame on you.

    Wake up, John! Dentists are your friends and Dentistry Today is not big enough for you to piss off customers in the front of the store. As you can see, those wonderful days of unaccountability in the advertising industry are gone forever. Networked consumers can kick your butt just for grins between checking their hygiene patients. You lost miserably, Sport.

    “We have real power and we know it. If you don’t quite see the light, some other outfit will come along that’s more attentive, more interesting, more fun to play with.” Thesis 89, Cluetrain Manifesto.

    Perhaps you should try the marketing department. Your talent in modern communications would be less likely to harm Dr. Adams’ impressive internet reputation… By the way. Why doesn’t Dr. Adams have a Facebook or even offer an email address? It would have been so easy for me to cc this letter to him. Perhaps he’ll stumble across it on The American Way of Dentistry Facebook.

    Who knows? It could even appear on his first page in a Google search. (Gasp!)

    I think Dr. Damon Adams is a perfect example of how so many top dental leaders are being left behind because of their own lack of confidence in their product. Perhaps the lack of transparency that characterizes both Dr. Adams and Dentistry Today is simply because he is by nature a shy dentist, and not because he’s evading accountability for things like his Senior Editor’s rookie mistakes.

    Here’s my offer, John. If you will re-post my question about the ADA’s Facebook, and never again censor anything I post, I’ll treat you with the respect such confidence deserves.

    Otherwise, you’re 4th of July entertainment.

    Darrell K. Pruitt DDS


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