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Tort “Reformers” Ignore Failed Disciplinary System That Fosters Deaths

Posted by Andrew J. Barovick | Mar 22, 2011 | 0 Comments

In the City of Brotherly Love, a/k/a Philadelphia, a physician with a rich history of medical malpractice was allowed to keep practicing, while state disciplinary authorities failed to take action.  And 8 murder charges later, a grand jury has found that this laissez-faire approach to Dr. discipline was actually a “complete regulatory collapse.” (ABA Journal).

If you follow the link in the ABA Journal's article, you can learn the grisly details, courtesy of the Philadelphia Inquirer, of the doctor's killing of one adult patient, and his finishing off of 7 live babies that he delivered and then killed.

And if you're wondering how this could have happened, I have one answer for you: doctor self-reporting.  That is how much of the regulation of physicians is done here in the US, so that, not surprisingly, reports of errors are on the scant side.  And also not surprisingly, this not only allows, but fosters a climate in which physician-caused injuries and death can proliferate.  When some of these victims realize what has been done to them, they bring medical malpractice cases.  But of course, that's only after they see through the initial explanation that there was “an unavoidable complication.”

If you've been following the news, or even just following this blog, you know that these events are not rare.  They are all too common.  Forgetting about the human toll in the Philadelphia case for a moment, think about the expenses that are being racked up by this staggering failure of oversight and responsbility to patients: possibly 8 medical malpractice/wrongful death cases; and possibly an equal number of criminal cases.  This one OB/GYN could send an entire state's budget spinning.

Why haven't we heard from the Greater New York Hospital Association or Healthworkers 1199 about atrocities like this, that happen in our state, too?  Why don't the people who claim to want to slash the “costs” of medical malpractice litigation even acknowledge this little problem?  Shouldn't tort “reform” aim to reform the mechanisms by which medical errors are caused?  Just asking.

About the Author

Andrew J. Barovick

Mr. Barovick is a graduate of Columbia College and Cardozo School of Law. He began his legal career at the Queens District Attorney’s Office, where he tried over 20 felonies to verdict, and argued an equal number of appeals before the Appellate Division, Second Department, the New York Court of Appeals and the United States Court of Appeals for the Second Circuit.

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REPRESENTATIVE VERDICTS & SETTLEMENTS:

$7.9 million dollars for infant client who suffered severe brain injuries due to post- delivery medical malpractice.

$500,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement on behalf of patient brought to hospital emergency room with serious injuries who suffered complications while unmonitored and died.

$425,000 wrongful death/medical malpractice settlement during trial on behalf of senior hospital patient whose surgeon failed to timely address her worsening symptoms, resulting in her death.

$250,000 to young man whose physician failed to diagnose an impending torsion testicle, causing the loss of the affected testicle.

$200,000 to young mother whose OB/GYN failed to timely diagnose and treat her ectopic pregnancy, resulting in excruciating, long-term pain and the need for surgery to address the ectopic pregnancy once it was diagnosed.

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