Physician Punished for Administering Vaccines
What would you do with ten doses of COVID-19 vaccines that were six hours away from expiring and about to be discarded? Dr. Hasan Gokal in Houston, whose distribution location was about to close for the evening, decided the correct answer was for him to find some people to whom to deliver them. Anyone! He hustled, making house calls, even telling some to come to his house to receive them. One of those ten recipients was his wife, who although not 65, had pulmonary fibrosis.
Because of that decision, Dr. Gokal was fired and charged with stealing a vaccine. Yes, there is now a mug shot of Dr. Gokal who previously had no criminal record. Although the case was dismissed by a judge, the prosecutor has voiced his intent to present the case to the grand jury. Even more amazingly, Dr. Gokal reports that he called a Harris County public health official to inform them of his intentions prior to taking the expiring vial and was told "Okay."
There was a time in this country when the physician was seen as acting in good faith, particularly when carrying out his duties. Yes, there has been malpractice law since the mid-nineteenth century, but absent that, a decision by a physician to act in his or her professional capacity was looked as inherently sound.
The trust placed on physicians has dissolved. Physicians are acting in a world that has become inherently hostile. What Dr. Gokal did is inherently noble and moral. To proceed with criminal proceedings against him is legally unethical. Even the judge agreed with the audacity of the action against him. Adding to the harassment and the disappointment is this rogue prosecutor's intent to proceed with a grand jury investigation. In this case, it is the prosecutor who ought to be punished, not the good doctor.