Many of the more senior among the current prescription medical product liability defense bar cut our teeth during the vaccine wars of the 1980s/1990s. Thus, we noted with grim satisfaction when the junk science progenitor of the purported “link” between vaccines and autism lost his medical license. A decision we recently came across suggests that the same fate may be in store for another notorious anti-vaxer of that vintage, Dr. Mark R. Geier. See Geier v. Maryland State Bd. of Physicians, ___ A.3d ___, 2015 WL 3440417 (Md. App. May 29, 2015). For those of you fortunate enough not to recognize this name, some indication of the scope of Dr. Geier’s anti-vaccine activity can be derived from the results of a Westlaw search of court decisions containing his name and “vaccine” – 178 hits.
The first sentence of the recent Geier decision is: “Mark R. Geier (“Dr. Geier”), appellant, seeks review of the decision of the Maryland State Board of Physicians (the “Board”), appellee, to revoke his license to practice medicine.” 2015 WL 3440417, at *1. The court affirmed the decision. Yes, the charges involved (in large part) “treatment” of persons suffering from autism. Id. at *7-8. The opinion is rather long and fact intensive, and those of us who encountered Dr. Geier in litigation will want to read all the gory details, but for everyone else, we’ll simply quote the grounds for license revocation affirmed by the court:
The amended charges alleged violations of HO §§14–404(a)(3)(ii) (unprofessional conduct in the practice of medicine); (a)(11) (willfully making or filing a false report or record in the practice of medicine); . . . (a)(22) (failure to meet appropriate standards for the delivery of quality medical care); and (a)(40) (failure to keep adequate medical records).
Id. at *2. Additional “peripheral” charges (the ellipsis in the quote above) were dismissed prior to appeal because they “pale[d] in comparison to the egregious violations of the standard of care and the egregious unprofessional conduct displayed by Dr. Geier in this case.” Id. at *4. That gives you some idea of the tenor of the opinion. To sum up, the court held that “substantial evidence” – described in its opinion – supported the medical board’s revocation order. Id. at *14, *15, *17, *18.
Once again, we feel that sense of grim satisfaction. Vaccines probably contributed more to the increase in human life expectancy during the 20th Century than any other single factor. In the entire course of human history, only sanitation/germ theory of disease in the previous century made an equivalent contribution. The costs of the baseless litigation wave Dr. Geier helped maintain threatened to drive vaccines off the market, finally leading Congress to intervene with the preemptive Vaccine Act (one of the 178 cases mentioned above was a decision from the Bruesewitz litigation). But now it appears that the Maryland medical authorities have hoisted Dr. Geier with his own junk science petard.
As another much more illustrious doctor, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., put it: “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice.”