December 14, 2006

What Want To Hear From YOU!

Shout_2 We got this blog started for the simple fact that things were making us sick.

And the best tales of sketchy lawyers, slack docs, lying patients and greedy insurance moguls have come from readers like you who stop by  ThisMakesMeSick.

Chime in, here!

In case you need some prodding, a greatest hits collection:

Stay in Hospital Takes Wicked Turn

Hospitals Shut Door On Doc's Charity Work

Grandma's Fears From the ICU

Double Dipping Medical Directors

Dr. Choi Had No Idea What He Was Doing


December 05, 2006

Lawyer Chafes At Complaining Clients

Flea_2 Our old friend Dr. Flea, who has contributed some witty stuff here and here, has an update of being deposed in a med-mal suit: "This was 'a good deposition' for me. The mother essentially admitted that her child is not injured. How her lawyer permitted her to do so is curious to say the least, but I suppose I shouldn't care."

Not much else of note, but a comment on Flea's blog caused us to sit up straight. The writer, allegedly a lawyer, chimed in on his lawsuit-happy clients:

"I haven't practised plaintiff personal injury law since January when I decided to take a break ....  I was sitting through appointment after appointment where my clients would tell me how their pissy little soft tissue neck/back injury had ruined their life when my neck/back is continuously sore from having to carry my son around and fight his tone. I actually listened to one woman in her mid 40's go on for more than an hour about how her life was over because she could no longer wear halternecks. For god sakes woman, maybe God is trying to tell you that you shouldn't be wearing them anymore."

Not exactly the clear command of English we would hope for in a lawyer. And aren't they paying his bills? Or maybe he has found clarity amongst the madness.

Have something to say? Calling all fed up regular folks, doctors, lawyers, nurses — Write us, here.

September 13, 2006

The Great Untalked About in Med-Mal

Dougwojceszak_6From the most recent SorryWorks! Newsletter:

The media often talks about the pain visited upon patients and families by medical errors (which is very real), but rarely do they talk about the pain and suffering experienced by medical professionals after medical errors. Sure, there are those healthcare professionals who are cold and callous and truly don't care, but the vast majority of doctors and nurses suffer greatly after a medical error. They beat themselves up and literally grieve.

The situation is made worse when risk management and defense counsel tell the doctor or nurse to shut up and abandon the patient/family. Healthcare professionals being told not to heal patients and families who have been hurt only makes a bad situation worse. There are countless stories of clinical depression, ruined careers, divorces, and even suicides among healthcare professionals after medical errors.

Doctors and nurses need healing too after errors, and they can only receive the healing they need by taking ownership of an error, confessing their mistake to a patient and family, apologizing, and then hearing the magic words from a patient or family: "I forgive you."

September 05, 2006

'Is The Crisis Over?'

Novack_3_2Eric Novack, MD is host of “The Eric Novack Show,” a weekly radio program dedicated to examining healthcare policy and politics. It airs Sundays on KKNT960 AM Phoenix. Today, he writes on why he thinks docs must continue to fight the good fight.

The issue of medical liability reform appears to have lost some of its front-page appeal to doctors and the media over the last several months. The big question is why? Is the ‘crisis’ over? Did it ever really exist in the first place? Have the efforts of the pro-reform forces succeeded, allowing the grassroots to—as they say—move on? Or has the defeat by anti-reform forces been so profound that proponents of tort reform have retreated? Or is it none of the above?

Answers: If we define ‘over’ as no longer having double digit—or triple digit—increases in premiums year over year, then perhaps it is over. The issue of total medical liability costs as compared to the whole system is a red herring. The fact is that costs increases have far outstripped the rate of even medical inflation and exploded compared to increases in revenue for physicians. So, that’s not it.

Of course a crisis exists. Efforts of the absurdly named Center for Justice and Democracy (AKA national trial lawyers assn.) notwithstanding, when obstetricians pay upward of $200,000 per year in certain locations for coverage, and entire segments of states have no OB docs at all—it is safe to say that the system is in critical condition. Not it.

Continue reading "'Is The Crisis Over?'" »

August 24, 2006

SorryWorks! Responds to Critics

Dougwojceszak_4_1 We hadn’t checked in with Doug Wojcieszak for a bit. He’s still leading a nationwide charge on behalf of  SorryWorks!, a "middle ground solution to the medical liability crisis." He recently responded to criticism lobbed at this communication and reconciliation plan between healthcare providers, patients, and families.

There has been a slight rumbling of criticism from the patient/family/consumer-side over the past few months. Some testimony has been given, comments made, and other gripes have been aired about Sorry Works! The comments usually say that Sorry Works! short-changes patients, families, and their attorneys (how else could the program save money??!!) or that attorneys are closed out of the program and injured people are taken advantage of, etc, etc. Others simply say "sorry" isn't enough for injured people.

In this brief section we are going to address those concerns. We won't name any names, because names are not really important for this discussion, but the issues are extremely important and they're basically the same whether you're from a big city or small town, New York to California and all places in between.

Let us say upfront Sorry Works! only works because of three words: credibility, credibility, and....credibilty.

Continue reading "SorryWorks! Responds to Critics" »

August 15, 2006

The Insurance Company Gets a Patient's Right To Sue?

Segal_4_1Jeffrey Segal, M.D, a board-certified neurosurgeon and the founder and president of Medical Justice Services, Inc., offers a potential cure to the nation's healthcare blues:

What if we all stopped and looked at healthcare in America? Would we like what we saw?

Think about it. Millions are uninsured – and the cost of their care drives up the cost of healthcare for those that can pay.  Health insurance rates are high, driven by the increased costs of defensive medicine, which is primarily practiced, after all, not to provide care but to provide a defense to a lawsuit.

Medical malpractice premiums have increased, in some areas, to the point where specialists in trauma neurosurgery and high-risk ob/gyn are leaving for better climes, which leaves some patients without access to the care that they need. And patients have reasonable expectations, that they’ll receive quality care, that they’ll be safe, that they’ll be made whole again if they are injured through the negligence of others.

What if there was a better way? I have a suggestion. It’s called HealthCare 2.0™. And it would work like this:

Continue reading "The Insurance Company Gets a Patient's Right To Sue? " »

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 21, 2006

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 18, 2006

Flea Gets Deposed

Flea_1_5Our old friend Dr. Flea is facing some heat. He has written for us about another experience getting sued and "driving a yellow bus" in the Northeast. Now he gives us the lowdown on going to see his lawyer. Thanks, Flea.

Flea was deposed today.

Today's events will require more than one post, as there are many facets to the story worthy of mention. Here's the first story:

I arrived at my attorney's office one hour early. This was not my intent. I left extra time because of fear of being late. There had been an horrific accident in downtown Boston yesterday morning and we were promised that traffic would be horrendous all day.

I tried to kill time by walking around Government Center. I recalled a radio interview I once heard with Livingston Taylor, on the subject of stage-fright and performance-preparation. Taylor said he does two things before he performs on stage: First he arrives at the performance space early (okay, I had done that); Second, he thanks God for the privelege of being where he was, about to perform. I took Taylor's advice and gave thanks.

When the deposition was over and I was back in my car, I called my office and spoke to my staff. I had not arranged for coverage during my deposition. The thought had simply never occurred to me that I may be away from the office for so long that I might be needed in the morning. The culprit was most likely denial. I didn't want to think about the deposition at all, so I didn't arrange for back-up.

My nurse reported that there had been very few calls, and none that required my attention. I was enormously relieved. I thanked her and my secretary for being there to field calls in my absence. Then my nurse remarked "God was watching out for you today".

I choked up and became afraid I would start crying on the phone to my nurse. I had forgotten about my prayer this morning.

Now, I know Hashem has better things to do than listen to the prayers of a flea. But in case You really were listening, thanks.

June 16, 2006

Politics and the New England Journal of Medicine

Wessmall We welcome another fine guest blogger to the ThisMakesMeSick Family. Dr. Westby Fisher practices near sweet home Chicago and finds time to pen a shrewd blog here. He also runs, a site that provides a supportive,  humorous sanctuary from the day-to-day drudgery of long-term illness.

Enough talk, read his piece on Sen. Hillary Clinton's and Sen. Barack Obama's "Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform." Dr. Wes asks why the medical press jumped on it, while the political hacks did not.

In case you missed the most recent issue of the New England Journal of MEDICINE's (the capital font is for emphasis) publishing of Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama's 2008 presidential bid perspective piece entitled "Making Patient Safety the Centerpiece of Medical Liability Reform" on their proposal for medical liability reform, it can be found, available for free and to all (unlike most of the other peer-reviewed research studies and reviews published by physicians in the Journal) here. Interesting that this piece was displayed so prominently in the medical press but has failed to be picked up by the political press. As you read this piece ask yourself, why does this piece appear where it does?

When you combine politics and medicine as in this piece's title, you get on-the-Hill "position speak" which coins such terms as "patient safety" and creates the unspoken bind that any alternative position is "against patient safety." This is typical political Hill strategy but now it inserts itself into a health-care community not seasoned to this type of manipulation.

Continue reading " Politics and the New England Journal of Medicine" »

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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