A Kansas board that denied a licensed doctor of osteopathic medicine a license was primarily concerned about the man's political views.
The Kansas State Board of Healing Arts is a 15-member panel appointed by the governor and decides the fate of doctors in Kansas.
Terrence Lee Lakin rose to the ranks of lieutenant colonel in the U.S. Army. He served on the front lines in Afghanistan and the war zone in Bosnia as well as a medical mission to Honduras. He saved lives around the world and received a Bronze Star for his service.
"I like helping people," said Lakin. "And I've been, since college wanting to be in medical field and help others."
But a dispute over whether President Barack Obama was born in the United States led to Lakin being forced from the military and apparently led to the Kansas board in October denying him a medical license to practice in the Sunflower State.
The board repeatedly refused comment on their decision, but a transcript of Lakin's shows board members didn't concern themselves with Lakin's 18-year spotless medical record.
"They hammered me for my political views," said Lakin.
Nearly two years ago, the then lieutenant colonel asked for proof that Obama was born in the United States. When he didn't get it, Lakin announced via a video posted on www.safeguardourconstitution.com, "I will disobey my orders to deploy because I believe all servicemen and women and the American people deserve the truth about President Obama, the office of the presidency and the commander in chief."
In April 2010, citing a possible break in the chain of command, Lakin did refuse a second tour of duty to Afghanistan. In December of that year, he went through a court martial for missing movement and failing to obey a lawful order – both violations of the Uniform Code of Military Justice. When Lakin was found guilty of breaking military law, the Army gave him a dishonorable discharge, stripped him of his rank and sentenced him to a six-month prison term at Fort Leavenworth.
The dishonorable discharge had no bearing on Lakin's license to practice medicine in Maryland or Colorado. But the Kansas board ruled Lakin's refusal to deploy to Afghanistan "…potentially jeopardized the health, safety and welfare of the military troops for with applicant was employed to provide medical care."
The military dispatched another doctor to fill Lakin's mission.
The Oct. 21 hearing about Lakin's medical license lasted just 16 minutes. Lenexa physician Michael J. Beezley kicked off the questioning about Lakin's thoughts on the president.
"So I guess you need to explain the difference between going to Afghanistan in 2004 and going over there after President Obama was elected," said Beezley. "Is that the big kick?"
"Yes," replied Lakin.
Ellsworth Dr. Ronald Whitmer then followed up.
"Do you believe he was a U.S. citizen, President Obama?" he asked.
"I don't know," Lakin replied.
"...the long form of his birth certificate has been publicized," Whitmer said. "What does it take to make you believe that he is a U.S. citizen?"
"I think that I have a question and I don't think that question's been answered, but if this has to do with my medical capabilities...," said Lakin.
"What would make you have that answered?" said Whitmer.
Whitmer kept pressing Lakin.
"Say if and when he's elected again and the Reconciliation Act becomes law, which it already is, and all of a sudden we have 20 million more people who've got healthcare, are you going to refuse those people because this is?" asked Whitmer.
"No. No. No," insisted Lakin. "I was being ordered to a combat zone to, you know, put my life on the line."
Just as Lakin's medical record didn't matter to the board, another doctor's medical record also didn't matter to the panel.
KCTV5's investigation reveals that in 2008, the KSBHA board approved the license of another doctor with a history of medical mistakes and malpractice payouts. One patient died after a drill mishap in the operating room. A surgical error caused repeated electrical shocks to a second patient. And a third patient wasn't even that doctor's patient. The physician didn't notice, ended up performing brain surgery on the wrong man and caused permanent damage.
The board refused our repeated requests for an interview about the decisions it makes and the seeming disparity of these two cases. A renowned University of Pennsylvania medical ethicist, Art Caplan, agreed to weigh in on the situation.
"Political beliefs, I think, should play no role," said Caplan. "Is it going to be a popularity contest that decides what political views you can have as a doctor? Or is it going to be the majority views that decides what political views you can have? Obviously, again - I don't think this is relevant to who practices well."
Lakin agrees with Caplan. "I knew medical boards had a bad reputation. I had hoped this issue would have nothing to do with my practice."
Lakin's only recourse now is a judicial appeal, but he's uncertain that he can afford the costs. He has a book coming out this month detailing his experiences.
In the meantime, looking into the medical background of your doctor is no easy task. You can start with a search of the Kansas or Missouri board websites to see your doctor is under any disciplinary action. To uncover any history prior to practicing in Kansas or Missouri, you will have to file a records request with the state licensing board for your doctor's original state application.
To go to the Kansas State Board of Healing Arts, click here.
To go to the Missouri Board of Registration for the Healing Arts, click here.
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