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Letter: Frist Schiavo diagnosis being reviewed in Tennessee

John Byrne

The Tennessee Department of Health has responded to complaints into Senate Majority Leader Bill Frist's (R-TN) 'diagnosis' of Florida's Terri Schiavo by videotape, RAW STORY has learned.

Their letter, written by Tennessee Department of Health Director of Investigations for Health Related Boards Denise Moran, said that the complaint had been received and "was in the process of being reviewed."

"Once this review has been completed you will be contacted by letter informing you of the recommended course to be taken," Moran adds.

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"Thank you for reporting this to us since our mandate is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Tennessee," she continues.

The letter was sent to a Californian who complained about Frist; RAW STORY has agreed to preserve the source's anonymity. A second individual in Louisiana received an identical letter.

A deputy spokeswoman said they had received about 80 such complaints, which Investigations communications director Andrea Turner later said referred to something else, and was incorrect. Turner said they don't disclose the number of complaints in any case.

“We don’t disclose information about pending investigations, we disclose information once charges have been issued,” Turner told RAW STORY.

"When a complaint comes in, it is an allegation," she added. "Based on an allegation, the process determines whether it is substantiated or has validity.”

Frist, a renowned heart surgeon, took Schiavo's case to the Senate floor in March, said that he had reviewed a videotape of Schiavo and questioned her doctor's assessments.

"I question it based on a review of the video footage which I spent an hour or so looking at last night in my office," he said in a lengthy speech in which he quoted medical texts and standards. "She certainly seems to respond to visual stimuli."

His comments raised ire among Democrats and medical circles.

Laurie Zoloth, director of bioethics for the Center for Genetic Medicine at Northwestern University, told the Washington Post she was surprised at Frist's remarks, noting he has not personally examined the patient.

"It is extremely unusual -- and by a non-neurologist, I might add," Zoloth said.

Frist also raised eyebrows in December, when on "This Week With George Stephanopoulos" he repeatedly refused to say whether he an individual could get HIV from tears or sweat.

The letter follows.

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TENNESSEE DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH BUREAU OF HEALTH LICENSURE AND REGULATION DIVISION OF HEALTH RELATED BOARDS INVESTIGATIONS 3RD FLOOR, CORDELL HULL BUILDING 425 5TH AVENUE NORTH NASHVILLE, TENNESSEE 37247-0110 1-800-852-2187

June 24,2005

NAME

Dear NAME:

The information you provided to us regarding WILLIAM H FRIST has been received and is in the process of being reviewed. Once this review has been completed you will be contacted by letter informing you of the recommended course of action to be taken.

This concern will be processed as quickly as possible. Thank you for reporting this to us since our mandate is to protect the health, safety and welfare of the people of Tennessee.

Sincerely, Denise L. Moran Director of Investigations Health Related Boards

Originally published on Thursday June 30, 2005.

 


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