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An Internet database that a watchdog group accused of blacklisting patients who sued doctors for malpractice has shut down. Sponsors of the Web site posted a farewell message this week, stating that DoctorsKnow.Us had drawn attention to malpractice litigation. The sponsors said they hoped the Web site had resulted in “changes that are equitable to both patients and physicians.” The database was billed as the first to profile plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in malpractice lawsuits in Texas and other states. A statewide consumer research and advocacy organization contended the site was at odds with the Hippocratic Oath to ethical and moral goals and obligations of medical professionals. “It was unethical. It was an immoral Web site that was arbitrarily blacklisting innocent patients, many in Texas,” Dan Lambe, director of Texas Watch, a statewide consumer research and advocacy organization, told the Houston Chronicle in Thursday’s editions. Before it was pulled down, the Web site’s slogan was, “They can sue but they can’t hide.” Members could perform up to 250 name searches for $4.95 per month. A notice on the Web site read, “DoctorsKnow.Us has permanently ceased operations as of 3/9/04. The controversy this site has ignited was unanticipated and has polarized opinions regarding the medical malpractice crisis.” Dr. John Shannon Jones, a radiologist, formed DoctorsKnow.Us as a Texas limited liability company in January 2003. Dr. Bohn Allen, the Texas Medical Association president-elect, had initially declined to denounce the Web site, saying he wanted to wait to see if it generated any complaints with TMA. “This Web site is the wrong approach. It interferes with the patient-physician relationship,” Allen said in a written statement. According to the statement, the doctor-patient relationship is a cornerstone of the medical profession. It blamed issues of access to care on “frivolous” lawsuits. But critics of the site complained that it seemed contrary to the physicians’ professional credo to “do no harm.” Lambe said doctors and insurance companies had promised that if Texas voters would pass Proposition 12 capping pain and suffering awards, access to care would improve. “Sadly, Texans haven’t seen any of the benefits they were promised and instead are seeing these new barriers to care emerging,” he said. “TMA, instead of denouncing [the Web site], they almost defended it.”

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