(VIDEO above is from Kandit's first sit-down interview with David Lubofsky, who has led the charge against corruption in the medical field on Guam since he lost his son to malpractice the morning of October 31, 2018)
By Johnnie Rosario & Eric Rosario
(Yigo, Guam) Your love for Asher Dean Lubofsky, Baby Faith Taitague, Charles Blas, and untold others, is making a difference.
David Lubofsky, whose son Asher Dean died around 7 a.m. October 31, 2018, told Kandit that the Guam Board of Allied Health Examiners will be investigating one of the two people he accuses of the malpractice that led to his son's death. Asher Dean was five.
The decision by the board to investigate Seventh Day Adventist Clinic physician assistant Ethan Snider comes 10 months of silence from the board since Mr. Lubofsky filed a complaint against Mr. Snider for his role in Asher Dean's untimely death.
Mr. Snider was the SDA official, who refused to allow Asher Dean to see a doctor at the clinic the day before he died. He also failed to deliver Asher Dean's medical records to Guam Memorial Hospital's emergency room, when Mr. Lubofsky left SDA with his two sons to have Asher Dean admitted to the hospital. GMH's ER had not received the medical records when Asher Dean arrived, wasting critical minutes that could have been spent stabilizing the boy.
Mr. Lubofsky took Asher Dean to his regularly-scheduled annual physical the day before his second visit, when they encountered Mr. Snider. On October 29, Asher Dean saw his physician, SDA Dr. Shinshin Miyagi, who spent a total of 15 minutes examining the boy for an exam that should have taken an hour. Mr. Lubofsky informed Dr. Miyagi of Asher Dean's symptoms, as the boy had a fever and had been vomiting and growing more lethargic. Dr. Miyagi never used his stethoscope to check the boy's lungs. Asher Dean, doctors found later, was pneumonic and his system had entered septic shock by the time he was admitted to GMH on October 30.
Mr. Lubofsky demanded Dr. Miyagi to conduct a more thorough examination of his son. He witnessed the attending nurse and the doctor writing notes and entering information into SDA's medical records system. When Asher Dean's condition worsened the next day, and Mr. Lubofsky brought him and Asher's older brother back to SDA, it was Mr. Snider who came to the lobby area of the clinic to meet with the Lubofskys. Mr. Lubofsky argued with Mr. Snider, when Mr. Snider told him that no doctor would see the boy. He pleaded with Mr. Snider to check his son's medical charts, as Asher was just seen the previous day at SDA. Mr. Lubofsky then decided to rush his son to GMH's ER, when Mr. Snider became combative. He asked Mr. Snider for the boy's charts to take with them to GMH. Mr. Snider said he would send the records to GMH.
GMH didn't have the records, at least for the first couple hours the Lubofskys were there. Asher Dean was admitted to the Pediatrics Ward, where he initially was seen by a couple doctors. One of the doctors, Mr. Lubofsky discovered following his death, noted in the chart that the boy was sepsis.
By the afternoon, a nurse had told Mr. Lubofsky that his son would be transferred to the Intensive Care Unit, but no one updated him on his son's condition. Mr. Lubofsky held Asher Dean in his arms, talking about the pain he was in and the vacation they would take once they left the hospital. The boy fell asleep in the early morning hours of October 31, and close to 7 a.m., he coded. Doctors and nurses rushed into the room, and within minutes, he had died. Between 7 p.m. October 30, and 7 a.m. October 31, not one doctor came to see the boy.
(Read more details of this story on www.guamopinion.com)
The heartbroken father began searching for answers following his son's death. He canvassed the island's doctors, and spoke to attorneys about what happened. He filed a complaint against Dr. Miyagi with the Guam Board of Medical Examiners; they rejected his complaint, despite the direct conflict of interests that its chairman, Dr. Nathaniel Berg, and others on the board have because of their financial relationships with SDA Clinic.
He filed a complaint against Mr. Snider with the GBAHE around the same time. That board never replied to Mr. Lubofsky until this week - nearly a year after the complaint and at the height of public scrutiny of the medical and allied health professions for some of their members's scandalous impunity toward adverse patient health.
Mr. Lubofsky and the parents of Baby Faith Taitague, the infant who died at Guam Regional Medical City without ever seeing her island home outside the walls of the germ-infested hospital, each filed lawsuits in the Superior Court of Guam challenging the Medical Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act - the law written by doctors that makes it impossible for the poor and working class of the island to hold doctors accountable for malpractice. Those cases are ongoing in the local trial court.
(VIDEO above of July 16, 2019 in-studio interview with Monica DeVera, whose son Charles Blas died at GRMC resulting from malpractice)
Meanwhile, Mr. Lubofsky has taken his advocacy to the Guam Legislature, hoping for the repeal of the law, which he dubs the Medical Apathy Act, reasoning that the law lulls local doctors into a sense of apathy toward their care of patients. He was joined by Monica DeVera, whose son Charles Blas died at GRMC as a result of malpractice. At Mr. Lubofsky's side, providing tear-jerking testimony was Anelyn Lagrimas, whose father has been mistreated at GRMC and is fighting for his life due to malpractice.
Senators were slow to act on Mr. Lubofsky's letter-writing campaign to them, though certain senators did meet with him, and at least three took action. Senator Therese Terlaje, the oversight chairwoman on health policy, called a series of roundtable discussions on the possible reform of the law. Kandit covered the first of these roundtable discussions, which happened on September 19. Click here to read this story.
(VIDEO above is the full footage of the October 3 legislative roundtable discussion hosted by Sen. Therese Terlaje on the possible reform of the Medical Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act)
During the second roundtable discussion on October 3, doctors testified against reform, including Dr. Berg, who callously dismissed Mr. Lubofsky then as he does now.
Speaker Tina Muna Barnes has advocated for these hearings as well, and has told Kandit that she is willing to support legislation that is in the best interests of patients.
Senator Telo Taitague, however, has been the only legislator who has announced plans for legislation that reforms the Medical Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act. In a live phone interview with us, Ms. Taitague told Kandit she is working on three legislative options, but that she will finalize these once the roundtable discussions are concluded so that she may have a full perspective from constituents on every side of this matter.
Meanwhile, with the start of the investigation into Mr. Snider comes a process of fact-finding, hearings on the merits of the case, and public scrutiny into the practices of patient care, not just as SDA Clinic, but every clinic of care throughout the island.
This is a victory for the people of Guam. Mr. Lubofsky isn't doing this for himself; no amount of his advocacy can ever bring his son back to life. In his own words, he's doing this to spare another parent's grief over the heart-wrenching loss of a child: a nightmare he lives with each day.
The tremendous support of thousands he has received along this journey not only has been heartwarming to the grieving father, it is working to make a difference. Asher Dean's body may have gone, but he can never die while all of us think of him - the inspiration behind a movement to end the greed and power that bad doctors have over our lives.