News & Election Videos

September 26, 2008

Bad medicine?

A 21-year old medical controversy is threatening to harm the political prospects of Alabama state senator Parker Griffith, the Democratic candidate vying to succeed retiring Rep. Bud Cramer (D-Ala.).

Griffith has highlighted his medical experience in his Congressional campaign. He was the first radiation oncologist to work in North Alabama, and established the first comprehensive cancer center in the Huntsville area.

But his Republican opponent, insurance executive Wayne Parker, is accusing him of medical malpractice. Parker recently revealed a 1987 internal peer review report that suggested Griffith was under-radiating cancer patients so he could charge for additional treatments. The previously-sealed report also said that a more aggressive treatment would have resulted in a cure for patients.

The chief of medicine at Huntsville Hospital at the time, Dr. Bob Williams, told the Huntsville Times that Griffith was “routinely maximizing revenue at the detriment of the patient.”

The Parker campaign has gone up with an advertisement broadcasting those charges.

“Griffith promotes his medical work, but why hasn’t Griffith practiced medicine at Huntsville Hospital for over 20 years?” the ad says. “Parker Griffith: he just can’t be trusted.”

Griffith has called the attacks blatant distortions of his record. He said that the criticism of his work at Huntsville Hospital stemmed from certain hospital officials who regarded his own separate cancer treatment center as business competition.

Griffith also aired a response ad citing comments from the Alabama Board of Medical Examiners that he has a “clean record.” And a former oncologist colleague of his, Dr. Gregory Cotter, told the Huntsville paper that Griffith was an “excellent doctor” who is the victim of a “horrible political attack.”