December 18, 2020




On December 17, 2020, WGN News aired a segment entitled “Families sound alarm on medical transparency after deaths of their children.” The report by investigative journalist Rich McHugh discussed the tragic deaths of two young patients and included interviews with Physicians for Patient Protection (PPP) board member Amy Townsend, MD and PPP official supporter Niran Al-Agba MD, as well as Sophia Thomas, DNP, the president of the American Association of Nurse Practitioners (AANP). The report also included information from the book “Patients at Risk: The Rise of the Nurse Practitioner and Physician Assistant in Healthcare,” co-written by Al-Agba and PPP board member Rebekah Bernard MD.  


Shortly before the news segment aired, the AANP placed a call to action to its members asking them to inundate the news station with phone calls, emails, and social media messages demanding that the station not air the broadcast. When this tactic failed, the organization printed a press release calling the report biased and stated that PPP members Al-Agba and Bernard were spreading “conspiracy theories and misstatements” and that the two derived “direct economic benefit from limiting patient access to NP delivered healthcare.”


On behalf of our 13,000 physician members, Physicians for Patient Protection would like to send our heartfelt condolences to the Wattenbarger and Ochoa-Dockins families for the tragic loss of their children.  As the mission of PPP is to ensure patient safety and to promote truth and transparency among healthcare practitioners, we applaud WGN News for its accurate, fair, and brave reporting on this issue, and we urge other media organizations to investigate this relatively unknown phenomenon in healthcare. In response to the AANP’s accusations that the book “Patients at Risk” includes misstatements and conspiracy theories, we point out that the authors’ meticulous research resulted in over 500 citations and includes an analysis of studies published on the AANP’s own website. We reject the AANP’s unsubstantiated rhetoric that the goal of the authors in writing this book was financial in nature.  


Regarding the AANP’s claim that that nurse practitioners have lower rates of malpractice than physicians, we must clarify that nurse practitioners are not held to the same standard of care as physicians, and patients therefore may not receive justice in the event of a malpractice case. We do agree with the AANP that research shows that nurse practitioners can provide high quality health care, but with one important caveat: only working closely together with physicians in team-based care.

Physicians for Patient Protection is an advocacy group comprised of practicing and retired physicians, medical students, and resident/fellow physicians. Our mission is to promote physician-led care for all patients, and to advocate for truth and transparency among healthcare practitioners. Learn more at