The Bumrungrad Lie Continues: Their Botched Cover-up Gains New Wings

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My response to Bumrungrad’s statement and accusations.

Santa Fe, New Mexico, 17 April 2015

By Dr. James Goldberg, Author of The American Medical Money Machine: The Destruction of Healthcare in America and the Rise of Medical Tourism

This week, I was disturbed to come upon the following statement published on Bumrungrad International Hospital’s corporate website claiming that my son died of heart failure and that the grave concerns I’ve raised about their hospital do not deserve serious consideration. The date the statement was posted on their site is not noted with their declaration, but I suspect it followed my renewed pursuit of the truth in this case as evidenced in my article recently posted about CNN’s commercial for the hospital that is masquerading as journalism, “CNN and Bumrungrad Perpetuate a New Fraud, Starring Morgan Spurlock.”

My book, The American Medical Money Machine, took three years of careful research and deep forensic analysis. I meticulously examined the circumstances around my only child’s death at Bumrungrad International Hospital in Bangkok, Thailand.

I have characterized my son’s demise as a murder, one conceived—I am informed and believe—by Bumrungrad International Hospital. I set this out clearly in my book which was published in 2010.

Unbelievable effort has been made to discover bodies of numerous victims of recent air crashes. These bodies are being searched for at the cost of millions. Yet, my son was in the care of this hospital and they’ve done little, if anything, to help find the answers surrounding his mysterious death at their hands. All they can do is assert that my allegations are baseless.

So that readers may possess the necessary information about this issue, I will lay bare the brutal realities of Bumrungrad’s actions and of the murder of my son at their institution.

Here is Bumrungrad’s statement as posted on their website:

 

The statement of Bumrungrad International Hospital about the death of Joshua Goldberg, as posted on their corporate website.

The statement of Bumrungrad International Hospital about the death of Joshua Goldberg, as posted on their corporate website.


And here is my response to their statement, taken point-by-point:

 

  1. We categorically reject the author’s baseless allegations, which he has been making for nearly four years.

Please publish the entire record of my son’s care, door to morgue, defending each and every assertion included in my book which lists dozens of details illustrating wrong doing and malicious intent and actions. Provide details of how my allegations are baseless. I would welcome your detailed explanations to the events that unfolded during those 11 days, all important information about what happened that any parent would demand to know. But your institution’s clarifications have been mysteriously withheld from me for more than eight years.

  1. His son’s unfortunate death due to heart failure.

Heart failure was not listed as the cause of death by the pathologist’s independent autopsy conducted at Chulalonghorn University under the supervision of the police. The hospital’s death certificate was never completed by the hospital; there was only a blank death certificate in my son’s file.

Additionally, you have refused to provide me with the perimortem blood sample I insisted Dr. Peter Morley, now the head of Bumrungad’s International Services, put into frozen storage. I requested this immediately after being informed of my son’s death by Dr. Morley, who telephoned me on the evening of February 22, 2006 at around 8:30 PM EDT. He agreed to do this, but has subsequently failed to produce the blood samples, as has the hospital. This call with the news of my son’s death came out of the blue! My son and I had talked on the phone earlier that day and he told me he was going to be released in the morning (Thai time) and continue outpatient therapy for loss of motion and feeling in his lower leg. He later left me a voice mail message, the last time I ever heard his voice, asking me to call him as soon as possible.

I am informed and believe that the Thai government (as well as Bumrungrad) is still in possession of my son’s perimortem blood; blood which has never been released to my independent representatives despite numerous requests. Please make these samples available to me as I have demanded from Bumrungrad persistently for the last many years.

  1. {The death}… has been thoroughly and objectively reviewed by numerous government and independent third parties.

Please identify specifically and provide contact details for the numerous government and independent third parties mentioned here that thoroughly and objectively reviewed my son’s death. Where are their autonomous reports? None of these have ever been made available to me, or to anyone I am aware of. If you have these reports, please publish them in their entirety and immediately. You have my permission to publish them on your site. Alternatively, please send them to me immediately via email.

Mack Banner, then CEO of Bumrungrad, informed me that an internal investigation was conducted by Bumrungrad. However, he refused to provide me with a copy when I made a personal demand in the lobby of his office at Bumrungrad at some point on or around 2009. Surely, Bumrungrad still has this internal report, so now is the time to produce it. Again, please publish it publicly on your site at once or arrange to send me a copy via email.

The United States, on my behalf, through then Ambassador Ralph Leo Boyce, requested an independent autopsy of my son but his request was denied by the government of Thailand. Boyce, the US representatives working under the Ambassador and other State Department personnel all declined to push the Thai authorities for an alternative autopsy.

Reader’s please note: the US Government has no jurisdiction, legally, to take any action on behalf of an American citizen for crimes committed against them in Thailand. Also, there are no treaties which govern international medical care. I met with two US Senators (Grassley and Baccus) to encourage legislation which would put in place protections for American patients should they be injured or killed abroad while receiving medical care. A bill has yet to be produced.

  1. There have been no findings of wrongdoing against Bumrungrad hospital, its board members, staff, or physicians.

If that is correct, then as requested above, please provide me with information about who conducted these investigations, what their methodology was for determining any wrongdoing and to what lengths they went in order to find Bumrungrad harmless. I am also unaware of any medical malpractice reviews or reports. Please publish these findings immediately and publicly, with my permission or provide me with them via email.

The fact that your hospital is owned in whole or in part by Tenet Healthcare of the United States at the time of my son’s death is at issue. Tenet themselves exposed their interest in Bumrungrad in their 2002 Annual Report. Thus, Bumrungrad Board members are certainly in the scope of who may be culpable.

  1. The author’s conspiracy theories now implicate our hospital, the country of Thailand, Asian doctors, the Joint Commission that accredits American hospitals, US doctors and insurers, the American Association of Retired Persons, and the US government. They grow in scope and hyperbole with each passing year, and do not deserve serious consideration.

I do implicate your hospital and always have.  However, I have not implicated the country of Thailand.

Furthermore, I do not make a blanket accusation that all Thai doctors are criminals: just some. As a case in point, my council and I discovered that many of Bumrungrad’s doctors who claimed to be Board Certified and licensed were not at the time of my son’s death. Perhaps you can address this as well.

As to your statements regarding the Joint Commission, you are mistaken in several ways. First, the Joint Commission is only empowered to accredit hospitals or health care institutions in the United States or US Territories. This power was given in coordination with the US Government in 1965 under the Medicare Act, signed by President Lyndon Johnson.

The Joint Commission was never given permission to accredit any institution outside of the US and its territories. Instead, the Joint Commission deceptively created something called the Joint Commission International Accreditation (JCIA) which employs a logo almost identical to the US seal. This is a blatant misrepresentation concocted by the Joint Commission to make it appear that non-US hospitals, such as Bumrungrad, carry American accreditation. They do not.

Secondly, The Joint Commission International, which has no authority to grant international accreditations, had sold Bumrungrad exclusive accreditation for five years before allowing other institutions to purchase their alleged accreditation. I originally wanted to implicate them until I discovered the difference between the JC and the JCI and realized that their accreditation is worthless. But if new evidence shows they are responsible, I’ll certainly follow that path.

Here is Bumrungad’s own statement regarding their JCIA:

Bumrungrad Hospital is the largest international private clinic in Asia, and the first hospital in Asia to receive the Joint Commission International Accreditation (JCIA). The JCIA is a division of the American-based Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations (JCAHO), the largest accreditor of healthcare organizations in the USA. JCIA accreditation was awarded to recognize Bumrungrad’s strict commitment to the delivering the highest quality world class healthcare with a special commendation for its information management systems.

When my son called me looking for a hospital in Thailand, I researched Bumrungrad and recommended it to him because at the time, I believed the accreditation meant something. It does not. Hospitals in the US that receive Joint Commission accreditation are subject to quality review checks and withdrawal of their accreditation for non-compliance. However, the International Accreditation carries no equal power of enforcement or penalty for wrongdoing and is apparently a rouse to satisfy US insurance companies when it comes to paying foreign hospitals for care received by Americans outside of the US.

My son had insurance coverage from Blue Cross of California (now Anthem Blue Cross). Their policy, which covered my son’s illness in Bangkok, was issued for case management by Allianz, the world’s largest insurance company headquartered in Germany. I have a full record of their transcript with Bumrungrad from the date of admission to the day of death. There is absolutely no mention of heart failure as the cause of death. (I have yet to implicate any US doctor or insurance company in the death of my son.)

Interestingly, Bumrungrad never tendered a bill for my son’s care. There is a simple explanation for this. By presenting a bill as a demand for payment, Bumrungrad would have opened the door to being audited by Allianz and Blue Cross. So, my son’s 11 day stay was never charged for and as a result, Bumrungrad side-stepped any potential for audits or examinations of hospital records which the insurance companies—and I as holder of the policies—could have then demanded.

As for the American Association of Retired People (AARP), Bumrungrad is completely distorting my credibility by suggesting that I have implicated AARP in the death of my son. Good heavens, he was 23 years old. My book goes into detail about the connection between AARP and UnitedHealth as part of my examination and expose of the medical money machine running behind our healthcare. Their involvement is unrelated to my son’s case but I would argue that their relationship does deserve serious consideration.

And finally, yes, I implicate the US Government and here’s why: they failed to take an active role in investigating the death of an American citizen while receiving medical care at a hospital facility abroad.


Reviewing the Case

Seeing as Bumrungrad is accusing me of making baseless allegations, I am once again providing them with a great opportunity to answer the plethora of questions I have been raising for years.

My readers may also wish to access the very detailed and objective Goldberg Case: Summary of Medical Treatment (PDF) that was prepared within months after my son’s death by a team of highly-regarded forensic experts I hired. I am now publishing this report on my website for the first time. It confirms many of the points I make above including that the death summary portion of my son’s hospital chart was not filled out by physicians, nurses or anyone at Bumrungrad, and that the cause of my son’s death was not filled out in the chart and remains unknown.

For further details regarding the forensic analysis and the entire case, please consult my book which is available on Amazon and other book outlets.