California Wants to Stifle Medical Innovation

Irina Baranova


Frankhoermann/Sven Simon/Zuma Press

Allysia Finley’s op-ed “California’s Medical ‘Misinformation’ Crusade Could Cost Lives” (April 21) is entirely correct. Respect for patient autonomy is one of the pillars of principle-based medical ethics, and it is considered by many as the most significant because of the value placed in modern Western society on individualism and liberty. Aren’t patients allowed to choose doctors with different opinions?

Medical science is ever changing. Today’s contrarian concepts often are tomorrow’s standards of care.

Ignaz Semmelweis,

the Hungarian obstetrician who introduced hand washing into medical practice, was ostracized. I wrote against such one-size-fits-all approaches as the 39-week rule in obstetrics. Years later, the rule was found to increase stillbirths and other fetal and maternal morbidities.

Would a similar opinion today cause me to lose my medical license? Would the Medical Board of California give me my license back only years later, when it was proved that I was right?

Howard C. Mandel,


President, Los Angeles City Health Commission

Los Angeles

Ms. Finley’s op-ed understates the danger of California’s legislation. Every innovation in medicine goes against existing standards of care. Today’s standard becomes substandard as new treatments develop. Medicine progresses when doctors have the freedom to practice their profession without interference from political agendas.

In my field of ophthalmology, millions of patients undergo the implantation of an intraocular lens. These surgeries often result in better vision than patients had before developing their cataracts. Yet until the mid-1970s, inserting a foreign body inside the human eye was considered well outside the standard of care. Without innovative surgeons willing to go against accepted thinking, patients would not have benefited from these lenses.

Any proposed law against innovation will end progress. California’s law must be defeated.

Michael T. Goldstein,


Greenwich, Conn.

The excellent op-ed by Ms. Finley mentions only the tip of the California iceberg that increasingly reduces the opportunity for patients to receive decent care from an available physician. The state medical board’s activity demonstrates an expanding agenda of accusation, investigations, public reprimand, surrendering of licenses, cease-practice orders and license revocations that have, in just one recent year, resulted in actions against 1,126 medical doctors. During that same year, all of California’s medical schools produced only 1,092 new physicians.

Is it any wonder that finding a primary-care physician is increasingly difficult for California patients?

Roger C. Dunham,


Santa Barbara, Calif.

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Appeared in the April 26, 2022, print edition.

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