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‘Dr. Death’: An apology is just not enough


There is a great weight of expectation on our doctors’ shoulders. We have a certain trust in members of the medical profession. As patients, when we sit across from the doctor, we are in a very vulnerable position. There is a sense that our fate rests in their hands. In many ways, they are thought of as G-d’s emissaries, G-d’s healers, here on this earth.

Sometimes, if there is a medical error, even an unintended error such as a misjudgment by a competent and kind doctor, it can be consequential to the point of loss of trust in the doctor-patient relationship. Seeking medical treatment is a serious and sensitive matter.

I’ve been blessed to know wonderful doctors, doctors who go above and beyond. But everyone has heard about a Dr. X or Y whose bedside manner leaves a lot to be desired. It happens.

Lara Kollab, a medical resident at Cleveland Clinic, was recently exposed for an online comment she had shared in 2012, and that she had never taken down. The comment begs the question as to whether this opinion is reflective of her current point of view.

It reads: “Haha ewww … i’ll purposely give all the yahoods [Jews] the wrong meds…”

Clearly, it’s appalling — and also surprising, considering that Kollab’s medical degree in osteopathic medicine is from Touro College, a Jewish institution.

Once exposed for her on-record homicidal intent, she issued a letter of apology in which she asked for the forgiveness of the Jewish community.

To me, her letter reads as more of an attempt at damage control. Her regret sounds more for being caught than anything else. The letter reads as a catchphrase-filled effort to save her medical career, imperiled future, and student loans.

While the letter reads more like a justification than true contrition, I nonetheless take her apology at face value. I forgive Lara Kollab.

Forgive, but do not trust.

Youth brings with it headstrong opinions and influences of those around us that impact our thinking and personalities. As we evolve, we may not necessarily agree with what we once said or did. And regardless of youth, of course we all make mistakes. To err is human. Usually, I believe in second chances.

But the issue here is not Kollab’s egregious and heinous anti-Semitic opinion. The issue here is the well-known obligation of a doctor: “first, do no harm.”

It’s not about punishing Kollab for her hateful rhetoric. It’s about not putting her in a position to execute that rhetoric and engage in medical homicide of Jews. I don’t trust Lara Kollab to be in a position to dispense medication or to treat patients. She expressed a desire to exploit her role of access to patients, and to harm them.

To me, that is not a doctor. Without upholding “first, do no harm,” I don’t care what someone’s training is. A doctor they are not.

And what of the ethical issue? Should she be reinstated as a doctor, given her expressed intent? If she were reinstated, and then did in fact intentionally harm someone, what, in retrospect, would be the ethical standing of her reinstatement?

Medicine is one of the most serious professions. Life and death can be in the hands of a doctor. At the very least, a basic level of maturity — if not gravitas — is required and expected. Of all professions, medicine is the one that symbolizes humanity and the equal treatment of all.

Often, a true apology can serve as powerful and even transformative moment, proving to be a necessary change agent in a healing process. But in the case of Lara Kollab, her apology cannot serve to revive her medical career. Her medical license ought to be revoked for life. The stakes are simply too high.

Would you place your life in this doctor’s hands?

Copyright Intermountain Jewish News