Thursday, February 25, 2010

Tort Reform will not reduce cost of healthcare

I am watching the chaos that is the Health Care Summit in DC.

I am tired of hearing about "tort reform." I am not certain that the average person understands what exactly constitutes "tort reform." Do proponents of "tort reform" mean a cap on pain and suffering?

I was injured by unnecessary orthopedic surgeries in 2000 and 2001. As a consequence, I underwent 7 additional surgeries to correct the damage. In 2010, I still face more surgery.

My dad was ignored and mistreated by "hospitalists" who refused to coordinate, cooperate or even communicate with dad's clinic physicians and surgeons. In fact, one Duke University Hospital hospitalist told me that she would not communicate with dad's Duke Clinic because "it would muddy the waters" and another hospitalist told me that his job was to save DUH money.

My dad fell. I showed the picture to dad's Duke physicians. I also repeatedly telephoned the physicians. Ignored. Two weeks later, my dad died.

How can you compare the pain and suffering? Therefore, how can you mandate that a limit exists for pain and suffering?

The reform that needs to take place is not tort reform . . . it is medical society reform. Stop protecting bad doctors! North Carolina Medical Board ignores that a Duke orthopedic surgeon Mark Easley, MD said that Duke Hospital ignored my dad's foot infection. Dad fought that infection from August 2008 until his death in January 2010. NCMB said that missing the infection on an old man was within the standard of care? No discipline to Hope Uronis, MD (who ignored the explicit directive of the Duke Clinic physician and, as a direct result of Dr. Uronis' arrogance, my dad was readmitted to the hospital 4 days later with pneumonia) and no discipline to Veshana Ramiah, MD (who, according to Dr. Mark Easley, ignored the infection in my dad's foot and caused him to undergo more than 5 additional surgeries and suffering for almost 2 years).

Illinois Medical Board said that they were "troubled" when Carle Clinic Association orthopedic surgeon Chris Dangles. MD testified that he did not know why he did the surgery to my foot because there was nothing wrong with the foot. But no discipline.

Even groups that purport to protect patients (like the AMA) threaten physicians and surgeons who testify against "bad doctors." How does that help?

Please know your doctor. Know his or her background, training and experience. This is especially true in a hospital setting where you will be subjected to physicians who IMHO are inferior and who are hired by hospital administrators to save money at the expense of patient safety and continuity of care.

If medical boards protected patients against bad doctors then patients like me would not consider a lawsuit.


  1. I regret hearing about your medical situation, and hope that you will be well. I disagree with you, however, on tort reform. I don't want to protect 'bad doctors' or prevent deserving patients from the compensation they deserve. I object to suing physicians routinely - making innocent physicans defendants - which makes us angry and results in defensive medicine that patients do not need. This issue is much more than just money. See under Legal Quality.

  2. Thank you for your kind thoughts and input. I agree that patients should not sue doctors with reckless abandon. My point is that caps on recovery of actual med mal neglects the fact that suffering by 76 year old man for 3 years is different than suffering by 4 year old child who lives with pain or disability until age 79. My concern regarding caps presumes an actual act of med negligence - deviation from standard of care.

    Every state requires that the plaintiff submit a physician's certification that states the doc reviewed the med records and believes there is deviation from stnd of care. So i dont get "frivulous suits."

    i tried to communicate with Duke Risk Management, med board, colleagues about my concern that doctors were mistreating my dad. Many Duke docs agreed! But the "bad doctors" are protected. I dont want to sue - i want pts to be safe - even older pts!

    I believe in medical cost transparency, getting rid of bad doctors. In addition, the Hospital Program Model needs reform. The program must be standardized to ensure pt safety and continuity of care.

    We agree that lawsuits dont help. Those docs who err & settle have confidentiality agreements - that doesnt help anyone. I want med bds and AMA to protect pts.

  3. Sounds like we agree. Target the guilty and spare the innocent.

  4. Amen doctor. I am a proponent of responsible health reform. I am concerned that "medicare for all" approach marginalizes what I truly believe us an honorable profession - a calling really for men and women to care for those who are sick and suffering.

    I see great physicians and surgeons who ARE scared of lawsuits. It does change how they practice. I dont want to sue a doctor. It would not bring my dad back.

    But i have literally begged administrators and risk management to put procedures in place that require hospitalists communicate, coordinate & cooperate with admitting/clinic doctors after the "pass off.". I am ignored. And patients (in addition to my dad) die.

    As i explain to risk management, that office's job is to protect patients and doctors. I want doctors to be able to practice medicine without looking over their shoulders.

    Who is protecting good, decent physicians? Capping med mal awards wont protect physicians. I am an atty (former med mal defense) - attys will figure a way around any rule.

    Med societies, AMA, boards, hospital administrators need to protect and advocate for good docs. They dont! Their lobby orgs are as strong as plaintiffs' bar!

    Where was the AMA & AAOS when Obama repeatedly said orthopedic surgeons cut off feet and tonsils?? The AMA should have demanded the names of those physicians and punished them. We all know those whack docs dont exist. It was an insult - but no stood up for tge docs agn Obama.

    I am an advocate - for the continued relationship between decent physicians snd patients!

    Sorry so long - I watched Obama summit yesterday and i am pumped!

    Protect each other, doctor & dont let the govt marginalize your honorable profession.

    Cheryl Handy