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.