July 17, 2004

What they are doing is robbery...

You might want to bookmark this LAT article. 'Cause sure as you're born, we are going to be hearing from now until November how medical malpractice lawsuits serve some sort of beneficial "regulatory function." You know, protecting the little guy from those bad rich doctors.

Read an inspiring (and infuriating) story about a surgeon from Santa Monica who has rediscovered the joy and inspiration he sought in a medical career—while teaching medics how to perform operations in a tin-shed in Cambodia. And the article has a lot about what's happening here...

... Doctors protect themselves by presenting the worst-case scenario. "A wise surgeon will say, 'Your family member is very sick. We will do everything we can, but . . . ' It's called 'hanging crepe,' " Stock says. "Then [patients] are overjoyed at good results."

The reluctance of specialists to answer ER calls often leaves emergency physicians alone on the front lines of health care, where they spend valuable time making phone calls and keeping patients stabilized while waiting five, six, seven hours for a specialist. And when no specialists are available, doctors such as Stock push the limits. "You can't admit [patients] or transfer them or send them home, so you wait," Stock says. "If you still can't find anyone, my solution is to expand my skill set to the doors of the OR. I'm not going to do fine, delicate surgery, but any problem that becomes life-threatening, I will intervene. These kinds of near-misses happen all the time. It puts me at risk."

As a precaution, Stock keeps a call sheet on each patient, recording how many specialists and hospitals he has contacted, justifying his decisions to provide treatment or to send patients 100 miles away. "Society loses when no one's willing to be on call," Stock says. "This isn't just affecting doctors, it's affecting patients. We're entering a chronic state of crisis."...

Even if you are the best doctor in the country, you will still get sued. (And even if you win, you will still incur much expense and loss of time.) Even if a doctor follows standard medical procedure precisely, he can still be sued and lose.

What the ambulance-chasers are doing is robbery, just as much as if they pulled a gun and demanded the doctor's wallet.

What John Edwards did (I'm speaking of him as a lawyer, not as a politician) was robbery. He is just as much a thief as any hoodlum of the inner city. He is a racketeer, a criminal, a dishonest person.

Charlene's business is defending against lawsuits, and I get an over-the-shoulder view of this sick world. She frequently settles cases even though she thinks her client did nothing wrong. The Plaintiffs' Bar is mostly a bunch of crooks running legalized scams. And we all pay a huge price.

Posted by John Weidner at July 17, 2004 10:50 AM
Weblog by John Weidner