"Good afternoon. I am Dr. Art Rousseau (far right in photo). I am a psychiatric physician in private practice in Oklahoma City. I am also a Clinical Professor at the University of Oklahoma Health Sciences Center. But, today I come to you as a physician who has been elected as Co-chair of the PatientsFIRST Coalition for the protection of Oklahoma patients.
"Thank you for attending this press conference today and even more importantly, thank you for helping to educate the public about our concerns and goals.
PatientsFIRST is a coalition of TEN organizations from the Oklahoma Medical Community. We have joined as partners, all as licensed physicians, to express our concerns about the potential risk to our patient’s safety. Those risks are the result of legislative and regulatory actions, or in some cases, inaction.
"This coalition has been formed to educate, warn and even alarm Oklahoma's legislature, the regulatory boards and the public about the potential risk to patient safety and quality medical care.
"We must STOP the practice of allied healthcare professionals, WHO DID NOT GO TO MEDICAL SCHOOL, seeking the privilege of using a scalpel, prescribing drugs or using a syringe on you or your loved ones as independent medical practitioners without the guidance and supervision of physicians.
"I want to make it very clear the other healthcare professionals in Oklahoma are essential and are needed to provide good, quality healthcare services, but with some limitations.
"The Legislature may allow those professionals to call themselves doctor with the passage of a bill; however, this does not mean they are physicians. Nor does it mean they went to medical school like the 7,000 of us that are licensed as MD's or DO's."
At this time, I would like to introduce my colleague and Co-chair of the PatientsFIRST Coalition, Dr. Dennis Carter (far left in photo). Dr. Carter is a family practitioner in private practice in Poteau, Oklahoma. He is certified in geriatric medicine and is also President-Elect of the Oklahoma Osteopathic Association.
"Thank you Dr. Rousseau. Why has this coalition recently been formed and what do we intend to do?
"Because we, as DO’s and MD’s, want to make it very clear to this legislature that the privilege to practice medicine and treat patients should come through education not through legislation.
"We want this legislature to know today that the Oklahoma Medical Community has partnered to draw the line in the sand and protect patients from additional inappropriate legislative decisions. The PatientsFIRST Coalition wants to become a resource for legislators, their staffs and state agencies on best practices for patient care, safety and treatment before further legislative action erodes the quality of healthcare in Oklahoma.
"Sadly, it has taken too long to wake up the medical community about the need to work together as specialties and jointly protect patient rights. We have always done it as individual groups, but today we are no longer individual specialties. We are the PatientsFIRST Coalition dedicated at this Capitol, throughout Oklahoma and at the ballot box to insure patient safety and access to quality medical care for all Oklahoma citizens."
Dr. Rousseau concluded with the statement: "Again, our goal is to educate the Legislature and the public about the practice of medicine and the training it takes to become a physician, one who has gone to medical school and is not just a doctor in legal terms.
"We sincerely believe that every citizen in Oklahoma has the right to quality and safe medical care; anything less is a prescription for disaster."
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