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July 31, 2006

Mississippi Roars

Hot Damn: Mississippians say tort reform boosts state's image—business-wise, that is. Read [Hattiesburg American]

Executioner's Bad Song

Doc who was Missouri’s executioner extraordinaire has been suspended for some questionable anesthesia practices on judgment days. Turns out he’d also been sued for malpractice more than 20 times doing his “day job.” Read [St. Louis Post-Dispatch]

New York Hospital Woes

Yikes! The venerable New York Post touches on the spike in complaints against NY hospitals, from maggots found in a patient's breathing tube to a newborn whose skull was fractured. Read

July 28, 2006

Malpractice or Accepted Risk?

Risk A Califronia weight-loss surgeon accused of gross negligence and incompetence in connection with his treatment of gastric-bypass patients -- 13 of whom died -- has agreed to surrender his license. He says he's broke and can't fight the charges.

He also adds in his defense: "I know I'm a good surgeon. I've always had a good reputation. ... If I thought I was incompetent, I would have gotten further training or stopped doing that myself. ... I did a lot of high-risk people ... people who were sick and older and people other doctors didn't want to tackle." Read [Press-Enterprise]

What's the line between malpractice and acceptable consequences?

'Health courts' cost, it's just another bureaucracy'

Shark Here's the second part in our piece from resident-provoceteur, Matt. Yesterday he told us why he believes in the American jury system and not health courts. He said he's used to being called a shark, so we obliged with the photo at right.

Back to health courts' cost, it's just another bureaucracy, and we've just added more state employees for a function that no one is able to show our current judges are doing a consistently poor job of handling.  Even the claim that they are necessary to establish standards of care is false - there is literally nothing stopping physicians from doing that now.  They can go to their insurer.

I've often seen Kevin's claim that 40% of claims are unfounded, according to Studdert.  Well of course that's true - they are CLAIMS.  The key is how does the system do when sorting out claims, and on that point, the current system does very well.

As to the counter, from reading in the medical blogosphere, I think that many physicians simply don't like adversarial settings.  That's true of most of us, even most lawyers, but I think physicians in particular are acutely sensitive to it.  Maybe it's the fact that they (like preachers) aren't used to being questioned and very much enjoy being captain of the ship.  I know many don't feel that way, but in general polls show the public very much respects and admires them, and juries certainly defer to them.  But it's the process of reaching the truth in our justice system that they don't like.

Continue reading "'Health courts' cost, it's just another bureaucracy'" »

July 27, 2006

'I believe in the American jury system'

Icedteahalfempty When we launched ThisMakesMeSick, we hoped not only to inform our audience about medical liability issues, but also to provide a forum that sparked rants and dialogue and questions and concerns. We know thousands of people check out the site, but we want more reaction and commentary. One avid reader throughout has been a firebrand of sorts named Matt. He offers up regular retorts to our so-called “liability crisis” and drinks from a glass that is most definitely half-full. We asked him to spell out his thoughts on health courts, as he doesn’t seem to have bought into the system. 

I believe in the American jury system.  Nowhere else in the world do you have a situation where people with no conceivable vested stake in the outcome are making the call based on the best case of both sides put before them.  In many inquisitorial systems, popular in Europe, you have one judge as the fact finder.  Imagine that in America, given the influence of lobbyists on our politicians.  And I don't just mean corporate lobbyists, but ATLA as well.  Can you think of something that would more undermine our process?  Even tort reformers are reluctant to attack juries too strongly, but judges?  No restraint for judges - consider the Schaivo rhetoric.

The health courts are nothing more than backdoor damage caps, as I've frequently said.  Take that provision out, and we're not having a discussion about them.  They're dead in the water.  And, they solve neither of the problems identified by the Studdert study - cost and ease of access.  They are still adversarial, and they still require expert witnesses.

Even if one were to stipulate they were easier to access, then that just means you'll have more unmeritorious claims. Lawyers right now, at their own expense, serve as gatekeepers to the system.  To the public's detriment at times, because low cost cases aren't taken, but they do weed out a lot of frivolous cases.  Ask any lawyer how many calls he/she gets a day from someone wanting a million dollars for some ridiculous slight, and they'll regale you with story after story.  I, for one, attribute this to the PR efforts of the tort reformers, who actually have people believing that for little to no injury you can become wealthy quite easily.

More tomorrow on the costs of special health courts.

July 25, 2006

News Roundup


A South Carolina doc who gave steroids to NFL players has agreed to pay $200,000 to the family of a man who died after receiving his controversial treatments.  Read [WIS-10 TV]

A lesbian couple filed a medical malpractice lawsuit Tuesday claiming botched cancer treatments damaged their love life. Their attorneys say it is the first of its kind under Connecticut's civil unions law. Read [Stamford Advocate]

The Seattle Post-Intelligencer has an interesting piece on the exposed practice of folks shuttling abroad to get cheaper medical care. What caught our eye was the very last sentence of the article: Legal recourse could be difficult if things go wrong. Read

July 21, 2006

Friday News Roundup

News_11 Language barriers plague hospitals Read [USA TODAY]

Georgia peaches don't have to give up privacy of their medical records when they sue Read [Access North Georgia]

Delivery Rooms Vanishing for Philadelphia Mothers Read [WPVI-TV]

Missouri state insurance director gets to veto medical mal rates that are excessive or "unfairly discriminatory." Read [Insurance Journal]

Dr. Flea Faces The Heat

Flea_1_5The other day, Dr. Flea let us in on his trip to see a lawyer after getting deposed. Now, we hear what getting deposed is like.

The experience of being deposed yesterday can be crystallized down to two question, the first and the last.

After I was sworn in, the plaintiff's lawyer began by observing that I had been deposed in another malpractice case. I must have furrowed my brow or made some sort of face, because his first question to me was the following:

"You looked perplexed! Do you not recall ever having been deposed?"

For those readers of Flea who have no idea what a deposition by an adversarial lawyer entails, it will suffice to say that it is an experience one never forgets. The question was not meant to solicit information.

I've heard that muggers in New York City would often punch their victims in the face upon encountering them, so as to weaken their will before robbing them. I suspect the question posed to me was the jurisprudential equivalent. I tried my best to appear impassive and to answer in the affirmative: Yes, I remember.

Continue reading "Dr. Flea Faces The Heat" »

July 19, 2006

Cruiseship Malpractice

Doc_1Hat tip to Kevin, M.D. for this high-seas story. Seems the Florida Supreme Court is deciding whether the Love Boat is responsible if Doc slips up with the scalpel while the ship is away from the dock. Read [Sun Sentinel]

About TMMS

  • ThisMakesMeSick answers renowned medical inventor Dr. Robert Fischell's wish to spread awareness (and outrage!) about the medical liability crisis that's ruining our healthcare system.

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What makes you sick?

  • We want to hear your thoughts and personal stories.

    Have you...

    • Fretted over rising malpractice premiums?

    • Signed a truly unbelievable medical liability waiver?

    • Faced a frivolous lawsuit?

    • Dealt with a doctor or a hospital who wouldn't take responsiblity for their actions?

    • Practiced defensive medicine?

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You don't say...

  • "This election destroyed a popular Karl Rove myth. The truth is that trial attorneys are winning, attacks on trial attorneys are backfiring and opponents of the civil justice system are losing."

    The CEO of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America said.

  • "We have discovered that virtually all patients are willing to sign a contract in which they agree not to sue their doctors on frivolous grounds."

    Jeffrey Segal, M.D, a board-certified neurosurgeon and the founder and president of Medical Justice Services, Inc., said.

  • "Low-risk obstetrics has been done here for 60 years, but not anymore."

    Carl Hanson, chief operating officer of the county-run Minidoka Memorial Hospital in southern Idaho hospital's, explained as they get out of the baby business. Read

  • "I have children, and I don't know where they're at."

    Rosalinda Elison, a former patient at the UC Irvine Medical Center’s fertility clinic, said after learning that that her eggs and embryos had been stolen and implanted in another woman who then gave birth to twins.

    Read more You Don't Say, here.

Crisis by numbers:

  • $4.6 million

    New York state grants available to expand the use of electronic medical records. Such initiatives have been hailed nationally as a way to cut medication errors, save money and improve patient safety. LINK

  • $700,000

    Amount raised by Fairness and Accountability in Insurance Reform to oppose malpractice limits in Arizona. LINK

  • $450,000

    Amount the Arizona Medical Association says Arizonans for Access to Health Care has raised to decide whether to push for montetary limits on lawsuits. LINK

    Read more CRISIS BY NUMBERS, here.

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