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Wisconsin’s “Med Mal” Tort Reform:  Three Strikes & You’re Out 

25 comments

Imagine how you would feel if you lost a child as a result of medical negligence and could not file a medical negligence lawsuit.  This is a “three strikes and you’re out” story.

Strike One:  On April 5, 1999, Erin Rice sought medical attention for an upset stomach, vomiting, signs of nausea, shortness of breath, and a bad cough.  Two-weeks later, she died; the cause of death?  Bacteria pneumonia.  Strike Two:  Ten months later, Erin’s family learned that she actually had viral cardiomyopathy, an enlarged heart, caused by a virus.  Despite the fact that an X-ray technician had noticed that Erin’s heart was enlarged, no one ever relayed that important information to Erin or her family.  This news was as devastating has Erin’s death; her parents were understandably upset at the quality of her medical care and readied themselves to retain an attorney and file a medical malpractice lawsuit.   Strike Three:  Another shock was yet to come – the parents could not file a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Under a terribly unjust Wisconsin law, parents are barred from pursuing a lawsuit over the death of an adult child (Erin was 20 at the time of her death) in medical malpractice wrongful death cases. The law also applies to an adult child that loses a divorced or widowed parent as a result of medical malpractice.  No such ban exists for other wrongful deaths in Wisconsin, such as those caused by drunken drivers or other negligent acts.  Because Erin was a legal adult at the time of her death and her death was the result of medical negligence, her parents could not file suit for justice.  If the same negligent doctor had killed in an auto accident, the parents could pursue the case, but not if the doctor was negligent in his care for her rather than behind the wheel.  He could be drunk, texting, incompetent, inattentive; he could be the worst care-giver in the history of medicine, a doctor who has been kicked out of every state in the union, but in Wisconsin, he can kill Erin without legal consequence.  Wisconsin also has a $750,000 cap on “noneconomic” (pain & suffering) damages.  The cap is even lower, $250,000, if the doctor is employed by the state.  Can you believe it?! Wisconsin may be worse than TEXAS! Apparently, both states love bad doctors.

Patient safety and medical error reduction and/or prevention should be the focus of pro-citizen legislatures.  Protecting and licensing bad doctors, providing them legislative protections to kill citizens should not be a goal of any legislator.  Yet, more and more states are passing these draconian anti-patient statutes in the name of “keeping doctors from leaving the state”.  What citizen, what legislator, would want an incompetent doctor to practice medicine in his/her state?  Would any want to be treated by the doctor who treated Erin Rice?  If it was their family member, their daughter, their loved one, would they want the right, granted by the 7th Amendment of the Constitution, to seek and receive civil justice?  This case is a travesty; a young person is dead, death was absolutely preventable, treatment was negligent and there is absolutely no accountability for the perpetrator.  Apparently, the Wisconsin legislature values the profits of an insurance company and the pocketbooks of a hospital or a doctor more than it values the life of a young citizen with everything to live for.

To discriminate against two classes of people – parents of adult children and adult children-is wrong; to deny accountability when someone is killed is wrong.  While no amount of money would compensate the Rice family for the loss of their daughter, compensation for pain and suffering, as well as punishment to the wrongdoer must be part of a pro-safety, pro-citizen model. There is no reason, none, to immunize doctors from the damage they cause due to negligence.  Wisconsin, and all, citizens deserve better.

We have been complacent in the face of injustice for too long.  We must all be proactive in protecting our rights from being trampled on by the powerful health care industry and pro-insurance lobbies.  Until patient safety is the first and only priority of health care providers, a lawsuit is the only vehicle to achieve punishment for wrongdoing and prevention from further misconduct.  The only source of redress or ability to prevent further harm is for a citizen to pursue his or her own claim through the legal process  Contact Governor Scott Walker; see where he stands on correcting this injustice.  Ask his political opponent where he stands.  Get involved in the process.  If you don’t like what you hear from one, prepare to vote for the other and encourage others to do so.  We have the power to effect change; we must begin to use it in America.  Otherwise, we have only ourselves to blame.

Mark Bello is the CEO and General Counsel of Lawsuit Financial Corporation, a pro-justice lawsuit funding company.

25 Comments

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  1. Darren McKinney says:
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    Though there’s no way for him to know, much less prove, that young Ms. Rice’s unfortunate “death was the result of medical negligence,” the self-interested Mr. Bello nonetheless makes that assertion rather blithely, as though the implied hunch of an x-ray technician could somehow have been the basis for a jackpot-winning lawsuit were it not for Wisconsin’s litigation-limiting statute.

    But assuming an actual physician or two also looked at Ms. Rice’s x-ray and test results, and observed her symptoms, it’s reasonable to conclude that the diagnosis of bacterial pneumonia — as opposed to viral cardiomyopathy — was made in good faith and based on what was known at that moment.

    That the diagnosis may have later proved to be incorrect is hardly proof of negligence. It is only proof that human beings — even highly trained and caring physicians — are fallible. We call it the “practice of medicine” because it will never be perfect. Unfortunately, the vast complexities of our human physiology will sometimes confuse and confound even the very best, Dr. House-like diagnostic geniuses. But confusion isn’t necessarily negligence, and it is rarely grounds for costly malpractice lawsuits that we all end up paying for, one way or another.

    Everyone with a human heart empathizes with the tragic loss suffered by Ms. Rice’s parents. Everyone who has ever lost and mourned a loved one understands the pain they’ve experienced. Such loss and grief have motivated much of the work of humanity’s great poets, playwrights, sculptors, painters and novelists for millennia. But it’s only been within the past several decades that those who promulgate and hope to profit from lawsuits have advanced the self-serving argument that anyone who loses a loved one, despite the good-faith efforts of medical professionals, thus has an unalienable right to sue and perhaps get rich beyond his wildest dreams. This argument is nonsense, of course, and everyone in Wisconsin who pays taxes and health insurance premiums, or otherwise seeks affordable health care from time to time should be glad that the Badger State is increasingly inhospitable to the lawsuit industry.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Washington, D.C.

  2. Mark Bello says:
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    Mr. McKinney: And the “American Tort Reform Association” has no “self-interest” in these types of outcomes? Putting “rich beyond his wildest dreams” aside (as if any amount of money would ‘replace’ one’s daughter), deserved ‘punishment’ should not be a goal of litigation? Should the offending doctor get “rich” by providing substandard care on a regular basis? Shouldn’t punishing the guilty always be a motive in these matters? Or, should we give every wrongdoer, every murderer, full immunity?

    The point of the article is not whether or not some doctor committed malpractice or not. I will concede that there may have been no breach of the standard of care here. The point of the article is that IF THERE WAS A BREACH OF THE STANDARD OF CARE, the parents are without remedy under Wisconsin and Florida law. The loss of a child to medical malpractice should be actionable for parents regardless of how old the child may be. For any “tort reform” to say otherwise and for you to advocate for such a result provides protection for the guilty and punishment for the innocent. Is that what you stand for?

  3. Darren McKinney says:
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    Do you mean to argue, Mr. Bello, that the doctor or doctors who imperfectly treated Ms. Rice were “providing substandard care on a regular basis”? If you have evidence of this, surely you would have included it in your original piece? Meanwhile, you may wish to stick to what you know, which is this: A young lady came down with a rare and terrible illness, which doctors allegedly failed to diagnose properly. What none of us can know is whether her life could have been saved even if the diagnosis had been different.

    As for the “punishment” of truly negligent or reckless conduct that kills or maims, that is better left to criminal proceedings and/or medical boards. Our civil courts exist primarily to make whole those who suffer tangible losses as a result of someone else’s negligence or recklessness. And as you well know, a Harvard study last decade showed that 40% of all medical malpractice lawsuits filed each year are groundless. (see http://www.nejm.org/doi/full/10.1056/NEJMsa054479). The people of Wisconsin and many other states have since wisely chosen, through their duly elected representatives, to limit such groundless lawsuits and awards for intangible losses in order to help keep health care more affordable and accessible. And your hyperbolic efforts here to paint the medical profession as one full of reckless killers would be laughable if it weren’t so shameless.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Washington, D.C.

  4. Mark Bello says:
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    Again and deliberately, Mr. McKinney, you miss the point. We are not talking about your “40% are groundless” statistic. That skewed statistic, even if true, is irrelevant to the issue presented: If a doctor is guilty of killing a patient, should any legislature give him a free pass in a lawsuit against the parents of the deceased patient? That a statute exists that grants such immunity is the issue of this article. You can claim hyperbole, you can claim shamelessness. You can continue to put words in my mouth. But that doesn’t answer the core question posed: Why should a negligent doctor get immunity against a grieving parent?

    Tort Reformists don’t rail against corporate frivolity or political frivolity like the Boehner lawsuit against the President of the United States. Reformists don’t complain that frivolous defenses prevent swift justice for victims. Reformists don’t complain (using your own statistics) about severe restrictions on recoveries due the 60% of malpractice cases that aren’t “groundless”. Please tell the people: What constituency does the American Tort Reform Association represent and where do you get your funding?

  5. Rick Shapiro says:
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    Mr. McKinney’s organization represents the largest companies and insurance companies and their goal, essentially is to increase their profits, and convince consumers to “give away” their own rights under the guise of “keeping health care affordable.” The problem: individuals and families are giving up their own rights in a time of need, and the profiteers are the big insurances companies and entitiies, not the consumers. The “trickle down” theory Mr. McKinney says will work in the Badger state, aint working. The rich companies just get richer and the consumers have no recourse in a time of need. Notice how Mr. McKinney attacks the “lawsuit industry” but when a loved one is catastrophically harmed by negligence (or dies…) its not “an industry” to a family. Its a single loved one. SHAME on the sham perpetrated by this organization which hides behind a false premise.

  6. Darren McKinney says:
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    Mr. Bello still has yet to present any evidence that a doctor or doctors acted negligently in the unfortunate case of Ms. Rice. He hasn’t even bothered to reference another Wisconsin case wherein a doctor or doctors so acted. I don’t argue that such cases have never occurred in Wisconsin or elsewhere, but if we’re going to have a serious discussion about a particular state law that limits lawsuits by those who suffer only subjective, intangible losses, the least we ought to do is use particular examples that don’t rely on nearly libelous speculation.

    And unlike Mr. Shapiro, I’ve plainly identified my well known organization and its obvious interest — on behalf of physicians and hospitals, their patients and their insurers — in limiting the parasitism of the personal injury bar that, if unchecked, works to make health care less affordable and less available. Americans consistently and overwhelmingly rate the trustworthiness of physicians high above that of personal injury lawyers, and for good reason. Few of us believe, as Messrs. Bello and Shapiro insist, that their profession is all about lookin’ out for the little guy. Accordingly, a significant majority of Wisconsin voters defeated the trial lawyer-labor union coalition’s effort to recall Gov. Walker, and they’re likely to return him to office again as the state’s economic fortunes continue to brighten.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Washington, D.C.

  7. Jon Lewis says:
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    Our common laws have been in place since the inception of this country. The right to trial by jury is a part of our Constitution, and it has been eroded by lobby groups such as the American Tort Reform Association.

    These statutes that exist such as this one and the Alabama Medical Liability Act prevent someone from having their day in Court. It prevents our “4th Branch of Gov’t”: the PEOPLE. The people sitting on juries are the ones who live and breath on American streets every day, and they are the check against big corporate interests and greed. THEY are the check against lawyer parasites as you call them, and it should not be up to lobbyists to make these decisions.
    We aren’t getting rich as trial lawyers. Far from it. Many lawyers are starving. Many are seeking other careers. Look at the law school admissions.
    There is not one person outside of the medical community who would agree with the Alabama Medical Liability Act and Supreme Court Rulings which state that a victim of alleged medical negligence cannot attempt to discover other acts of the physician or hospital. In other words, if a doctor leaves ten sponges in ten different patients and then leaves a sponge in the 11th, the first ten are meaningless. The attorney can’t ask about it or tell the jury. That is ludicrous.
    The only reason these laws exist are due to the fact that the medical lobbies and insurance companies have paid millions to have these laws enacted.
    I was in court on a case with a medical malpractice defense lawyer. She told me she had been in two different trials the last two weeks. I asked how she came out. Her answer, “We won. They’re kind of hard to lose.”
    Mr. McKinney, do you know what it costs to litigate one of these cases? Do you know how much work goes into them? Do you know the percentages of wins and losses? To think that there is some crisis here is incredible. The only winners, and I mean the ONLY winners, are the insurance companies and bad doctors. Good doctors don’t get sued.
    Frivolous lawsuits should have caps. Those caps should be $0. Meritorious lawsuits don’t deserve a cap.

  8. Jon Lewis says:
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    Oh, and one more thing. I’m sure we can all agree that all doctors look out for the little guy. All insurance companies look out for the little guy. All CEO’s look out for the little guy. The problem in this country, and it includes some lawyers, is GREED. Every industry has bad individuals. The problem is, our “industry” does include numerous individuals who do look out for the little guy. And, I sleep well at night knowing that I have helped people against the title pawn industry, the mortgage industry, the auto industry, the insurance industry, and the medical industry.

  9. Darren McKinney says:
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    Mr. Lewis,

    The Fourth Branch, as you call the voters of Wisconsin (and Alabama and other states), have already spoken through their duly elected lawmakers. And if those voters want to repeal the reasonable and perfectly constitutional limits on costly and corrosive litigiousness that their lawmakers have enacted in good faith, they’re free to change their lawmakers next Election Day, when they’ll be represented more fully and soberly than when represented only by a few jurors who’ve been subjected to emotionally manipulative arguments by silver-tongued devils such as yourself, Mr. Bello and Mr. Shapiro.

    -Darren McKinney, American Tort Reform Association, Washington, D.C.

  10. jc says:
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    Bravo to Darren McKinney–you have successfully unmasked a trait of Mark Bello and his kindred plaintiff attorneys. They seem to feel that WHENEVER THERE IS A BAD RESULT IT IS MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AND ONLY A PLAINTIFF ATTORNEY CAN RECTIFY THE SITUATION! Yet plaintiff attorneys lose 85% of their cases at trial! Notice how Rick Shapiro talks about ‘sham’ when he talks about the health care industry, yet he never talks about ‘sham’ when only 1 in 20 plaintiffs get any money at all after a jury trial and years of litigation.

  11. Mark Bello says:
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    Dr. Cox: Nice to hear from you again. Hope all is well. Like Mr. McKinney, and, as usual, you miss the point of the blog. I am not lobbying for the family of Erin Rice. I do not know whether the doctor did anything wrong or not. I am not going to “present evidence”, as Mr. McKinney suggests, that anybody did anything wrong in the Rice case. These requests for “evidence” and your ‘same old’ skewed statistics, again, miss the points I am making. I know that Mr. McKinney is doing this deliberately; he has a very well known agenda. You have had some negative experiences with the civil justice system. I get that, but if you wish to engage, engage on the appropriate subject.

    The points of the blog are these:

    1. IF the doctors made a medical mistake in the Rice case, should they be protected from liability to the family by a bar from pursuing a lawsuit over the death of an adult child in medical malpractice wrongful death cases?

    2. If the doctor killed Erin via a medical mistake, do you honestly believe that the fact that she was an adult makes her loss any less horrible to her family because she was 20 rather than 17? Seriously!? Do you really believe that?

    We can argue about medical malpractice caps and limits and standards of care. I know where you stand on these issues and you know where I stand. But this statute and the distinction it creates between the loss of an adult child and a child that has yet to reach adulthood is absolutely absurd. I expect absurdity from someone like Mr. McKinney: His organization would like to see all injured citizens fending for themselves so big business, big pharma, big medical and big insurance can pocket more profits regardless of who gets harmed in the process. He’d like to see NO personal injury lawsuits. But you are a doctor. You are someone who adheres to a “do no harm” oath. Surely, we can agree that in this limited situation, where a law creates a distinction between a family’s devastating loss of an underaged child vs. an adult child, AND LIABILITY AND DAMAGES EXIST, that the distinction is unfair, unjust, not necessary, and serves no purpose other than letting a guilty doctor avoid the consequences of his negligent actions.

    Just to spell it out for you: I am not talking about your “80% of the cases fail” statistic. For the purpose of this inquiry, we are assuming a doctor is negligent and guilty. Do you honestly see any reason for such a distinction? If it was your child, would your loss be any less devastating because your child was 20 rather than 17? As your friend John Stossel would say: Give me a break!

  12. jc says:
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    Before I directly answer Mark Bello’s last question, as a doctor, I would like to speak to a couple of issues raised in this discussion. A young patient coming in with a fever, shortness of breath and an alveolar lung infiltrate would first be considered to have pneumonia and would be treated accordingly, as apparently this patient was. A viral cardiomyopathy is a remote diagnostic possibility. Unfortunately that is what this patient had, and I would assume, given her young age, every attempt was made to save her life. Cardiomyopathies are difficult to treat and sometimes require heart transplants–so it is possible this pt would have died regardless of the care.

    Next point–Why didn’t the family, if they cared so much about their daughter, schedule an appointment with the treating doctor to find out what happened to their daughter? Instead, the family scheduled a meeting with their lawyer.

    Finally, I don’t see in this case why the family should be allowed to sue the doctor for the death of their adult daughter so that they can make a bundle and buy a boat. Apparently the people of Wisconsin, thru their elected representatives, feel the same way that I do. This is called DEMOCRACY, and if you do not like a law, you should contact your elected representative and the affected lobbiest, and try and get the law changed. That is what I am trying to do in Ohio.

  13. Mark Bello says:
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    Doc Cox: That’s exactly what these folks are trying to do! They are seeking to have this law repealed. As to your first point, again, I never said that this was a case of malpractice. I repeat: I don’t know whether it was or not. I am voicing opposition to the concept that even if it was the worst case of malpractice in the history of the world, these people could not hold the perpetrators responsible, with this law in place. As to your second point, how do YOU know they didn’t try to do this? How can you callously imply that they didn’t care so much about their daughter? Third: Your tired old argument about “cashing in” on the death of a loved one? Until science can bring the loved one back or your profession and others actually punish wrongdoers, especially repeat and multiple offenders, the civil justice system is the only way to improve safety. When wrongdoers feel it in the pocketbook, it has a profound effect on safety. Fourth: “Democracy” is now for sale. Doctors, hospitals, insurance companies, and corporations would rather spend billions buying politicians than they would on making us safer. It is the biggest political scam in the country right now. When a citizen seeks to have a bad law changed, he/she runs into politicians whose campaigns were bankrolled by the Koch brothers and their ilk. These politicians actually put “frivolous” and “damage caps” in the same sentence. Having said all of that, why don’t you, for once, answer the fair question that you avoided answering: Do you honestly see a reason for a distinction between an adult child and an adolescent IF malpractice is found? THAT is the only issue I raised in this post.

  14. jc says:
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    Mark–yes, I see a difference between an adult child and a child when malpractice has occurred. It is called ‘standing’. The parents of a child are responsible financially for the health care and debts of that child. This changes when the child legally becomes an adult, and the parents are no longer financially responsible for the child. So the people of Wisconsin made the decision that since the parents of an adult child are not financially responsible for that child they have no standing to sue a doctor. I agree with that reasoning! As for you discussion regarding political contributions, etc, you fail to mention that trial lawyers are the biggest political campaign contributors to the Democratic Party, making that party a captive of the trial lawyers. For an example of how corrosive this is, when Howard Dean was asked why tort reform was not included in Obamacare he said, “Because trial lawyers give too much money to the Democrats.”

  15. Jon says:
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    That’s ridiculous. The debts of a child?! The adult child probably has more debt. Do you make this crap up as you go along? If my adult child was killed by a negligent doctor I would be devastated and I would want that doctor punished. It wouldn’t bring back my child but it might prevent the same thing from happening to another child. The threat of a lawsuit is an important safety tool.

  16. jc says:
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    Jan, the people of Wisconsin, thru their elected representatives, decided that adults do not have standing to sue a doctor for an injury to another adult. The people of Wisconsin decided that the age of 18, was the age of an adult in their state. I personally agree with the good people of Wisconsin. If you do not like the law, well Madison is the capital of Wisconsin and I suggest you go there.

  17. jc says:
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    I would like to comment on many of the false allegations perpetuated by Mark Bello. His allegations that my trial statistics are ‘skewed’. In previous posts I have supplied raw trial statistics from Pennsylvania proving that docs win 80% of their cases at trial. Mark doesn’t like that statistic, because an 80% failure rate by plaintiff attorneys is not seen anywhere else in America. Yet Mark is unable to provide reliable statistics to refute my claim. (He did try and make up some statistics once, but I called him out on that one.). Next, I reject the claim that only plaintiff attorneys can protect patient safety. There are hospital committees which carefully monitor patient care. The Joint Commission on Hospital Accredation monitors hospitals. State Medical Boards monitor all doctors. One of my friends had a rocky marriage and while at home he became drunk and had to be hospitalized. No patient care was compromised, yet the state medical board eventually suspended his license. If I get picked up for DUI or don’t pay child support or taxes, the state medical board gets involved and can suspend my license. The state medical board gets all malpractice judgements reported to them and they will investigate serious cases of malpractice or incompetence. Besides all that, doctors have a reputation in the community and if we don’t treat patients right our reputation spreads and we lose patients. So Mark, what does the state bar association do to protect the public against incompetent lawyers?

  18. jc says:
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    Class action kingpin Stanley Chesley built a career gaming our legal justice system for his financial gain, so there is some justice watching that system catch him. A Kentucky court has ordered that the so-called “Master of Diaster” is liable for millions that he and his associates bilked from their clients.
    In 2001, Stanley Chesley negotiated a $200 million diet drug litigation settlement. Two other attorneys went to jail for having cheated their own clients out of all but $46 million of the verdict! (23% of the award). While Stanley Chesley reaped $20 million of the settlement, he was granted immunity in the federal trial. He also skated out of a civil suit brought on behalf of 382 cheated clients, which in 2007 resulted in a $42 million judgement against other attorneys.
    Last year, the Kentucky Supreme Court voted to disbar Mr. Chesley for his role in the scandal, and just last week, Boone County Judge Schrand let the other shoe drop. Citing the Kentucky Supreme Court ruling, Judge Schrand held Stanley Chesley jointly and severally liable for the $42 million civil judgement. Yep Chesley is liable for everything beyond the $17 million of the $42 mil verdict that has already been paid PLUS TENS OF MILLIONS MORE IN INTEREST! He also faces punitive damages.
    Doesn’t it make your heart feel good to finally, FINALLY see a plaintiff attorney held accountable!

  19. Christy says:
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    JC (Dr. Cox?): May we please have some examples of “bad” doctors, drunk doctors, incompetent doctors who have been stripped of their licenses after killing or maiming people? I’ve seen examples where doctors have committed malpractice a number of times before facing any licensing issues and, when their license is under review in one state, move to another. The legal system has disbarment proceedings as you have just explained. All states have a grievance process to weed out bad lawyers and, as you know, incompetent lawyers can be sued for malpractice (to the caps you seek apply to them too?). What is the process in your profession for getting rid of a serial killer? The huge difference between a lawyer’s negligence and a doctor’s, of course, is that a lawyer’s mistake does not hurt the client physically. He can not do surgery on the wrong limb (which happens far too often), he can’t misdiagnose cancer or heart disease (which often leads to death). The lawyer cannot kill someone. As to your “statistics”, you contradict yourself, constantly. Further, if doctors admitted medical mistakes and apologized for them instead of declaring war on patients and attorneys, there would be far less litigation and the statistics would be more accurate. You aren’t arguing that guilty lawyers aren’t often found innocent, are you? Your personal experiences have clouded your judgment to such a degree, that you are now responding to your own comments. That’s probably because so few of us take anything you say seriously.

  20. jc says:
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    Christy: Let’s see, can I give any examples of bad doctors having their licenses removed–Yup I can. All State Medical Boards send out a yearly Newsletter in which Disciplinary Actions are listed. If you go on the Ohio State Medical Board site you will see a list of about 50 docs per year that have had license suspension or revocation. As for your comment about ‘bad Docs’ picking up and moving to other states–also untrue. See State Medical Boards are internet connected and also connected to the National Practicioner Data Bank. A doc who gets suspended in one state is quickly found out and similarly displined in all other states in which he (she) holds an active license. Next, we need to distinguish an avoidable death and killing someone (murder). Murder is a conscious and deliberate decision by the accused to kill someone. We deal with that in the medical community the same way it is dealt with in the community at large–we call in the police and prosecutors! Missing cancer or an evolving heart attack is a mistake in judgement which can be multifactorial. All hospital medical staffs have by laws and medical judgement mistakes are reviewed by the surgical and invasive review committee. If a doc makes a serious judgement mistake or a series of mistakes his hospital privileges can be affected, and when that happens a report gets sent to the National Practicioner’s Data Bank and on to all revelant State Medical Boards. All adverse malpractice verdicts and settlements get sent to the relevant state medical board and the National Practicioner’s Data. Finally doctors who have a number of adverse medical malpractice cases get hit with huge premium increases making it almost impossible to continue practicing. I would assume the cases that you have seen where docs have settled suits several times are cases where the malpractice carrier forced the doc to settle a merit less case in order to save time and legal expenses. Medical Boards will not act on a license because a doc is forced to settle a frivolous case. Finally, in my 6 year lawsuit for a typographical error, I would like to file a grievance against the moron lawyer who filed the case against me. Where do I file the grievance?

  21. Mark Bello says:
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    Here’s an objective article with a viewpoint that supports Christy’s thesis. Dr. Cox contradicts his own, tired, statistics and, as usual, doesn’t include “settled” cases as “wins”. Since defendants usually choose which cases to try (their lawyers get paid on an hourly basis), OF COURSE they are going to win the majority of the after-settlement left-overs (and they even lose 20% or more of the worst left-overs!). Having said that, here is an interesting article about how repeat malpractice is dealt with in the medical profession and by state licensing officials. As I have told Dr. Cox, publicly and privately, his case is the exception, not the rule. “Malpractice reform” (like the Wisconsin statute) penalizes people with serious cases, not frivolous ones. Dr. Cox screams about his “clerical error” case, but supports reforms that cap damages. Why would any “frivolous case” need a damage cap? Use your common sense. The reason doctors and insurance companies seek “malpractice reform” is to pay victims of serious misconduct less money, PERIOD, END OF SENTENCE. Read this and you will gain better insight of the malpractice problem:

    http://archive.wzzm13.com/news/specials/13onyourside/265523/216/Thousands-of-doctors-practicing-despite-errors

  22. jc says:
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    I am going to read and review each of Mark Bello’s articles that he gives in support of his false arguments. I have submitted raw trial statistics from Pennsylvania in my argument that docs win 80-85% at trial and the facts speak for themselves. The two trial judges in my county, Judge Warren & Judge Reed, with 40 years of trial experience between them can only remember two plaintiff trial verdicts against doctors! My 6 year typo mistake is not unique. But on to the USA article. This USA article doesn’t talk about the percentage of malpractice wins by docs. Citizens Advocacy Group (a liberal trial lawyer advocacy group) talks about < 0.7% of doctors nationwide who lost hospital or HMO privileges and how only half them (<0.35% of docs nationwide) got license restriction after med board review. Mark, you probably do not realize how highly political some of these small hospitals can be. Do you think that an HMO might kick a doc off staff because he is spending too much money on his patients. Maybe the HMO has to manufacture reasons for kicking a doc off staff and the state med board investigates and realizes they don't have a case? This article also talks about some docs with malpractice cases over several years and how the state med boards don't act. So let's take my dismissed case of a clerical mistake, which had no effect on patient outcome. Let's assume, for the sake of argument, that I did not want to go thru 6 years of litigation and I decided to settle the case for $10K, 2 years after it was filed. Should the Ohio State Medical Board have investigated and taken action against my license putting me and my employees out of work? Obviously, due process is needed in this case and that is what Dr. Greg Phillips used in his case. But the Texas Medical Board did work to try and have Dr. Phillips get instruction, and when that failed they did prevent him from seeing patients. So the system took a long time, but it eventually worked. Medical malpractice cases can take decades to resolve, so plaintiff attorneys shouldn't be to critical of medical boards.