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(Daily Sparks Tribune)   Doctor skips insurance-rate protest to care for wife injured in surgery accident   ( divider line
    More: Ironic  
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47 clicks; posted to Main » on 10 Apr 2003 at 2:23 PM (14 years ago)   |   Favorite    |   share:  Share on Twitter share via Email Share on Facebook   more»

47 Comments     (+0 »)
2003-04-10 01:23:46 PM  
Wow, Admins took this article, I'm impressed. I've submitted a ton of medical malpractice insurance "crisis" articles and they always got turned down.

I'm sure this thread will turn into a big flamewar, but I just thought I'd say it early: This is no medical malpractice crisis. Insurance rates are rising because companies underpriced the policies in the 80s, and because their investments (all those premiums that have been paid) went into poor investments (Enrons, dot.bombs, etc.). The number of lawsuits hasn't grossly increased, nor has the overall size of the average verdict. Reporting of those verdicts is better, and the insurance industry has a good PR machine to blow it's horn. Oh, and a GOP-controlled Washington to enact it's wishes.

Flame on.
2003-04-10 01:35:33 PM  
Let me give a little inside story. My brother is a pediatric cardiologist in Mississippi - retired Air Force. As of 1-1-03 the malpractice awards are capped - so a flood of filings hit on 12-31-02. One was a petty case against my brother involving a child with severe heart defects. He contacted his MP insurance company to find that they accepted his 6 month payment ($30k), then filed for bankruptsy. The malpractice judgements are so high in Mississippi there is only one active insurance carrier in the state - and they are not signing new policies. Soon doctors like my brother will need to flee the state because they can't get insurance. He has never had a claim filed against him before - he has a perfect record. Yet no one will sign him with active litigation.

So - my brother may get screwed, but in the end, the entire state will get screwed when they can't get doctors to work there anymore. And believe me - it can happen. Legislature needs to do something major in every state that hasn't capped judgements already. In that state, there is a crisis - it isn't a PR machine event.
2003-04-10 01:56:38 PM  
Another fun fact - just a small percentage of the doctors are responsible for a vast majority of the successful malpractice suits. State medical licensing boards, largely run by doctors, usually avoid disciplining these clowns, looking the other way. The asshats keep practicing, screw up more, get sued again... and everyone's insurance rates rise to pay for the bad apples.

I paint with a really large brush here, and some states are worse than others, but that was clearly the case in Arizona.

So I feel bad for your brother CarmelCod, but the med mal system isn't the system that needs fixing. The way insurance is run, licensing oversight needs to be cleaned up first.
2003-04-10 02:30:23 PM  
Anyone else find this artilcle a little un-patriotic?
2003-04-10 02:31:41 PM  
this is why we should go to war with mexico. this right here.
2003-04-10 02:35:53 PM  
Charlotte Observer icon with a News&Observer article, hmmmm. Same state, different paper...

Drew, looks like it's time to add another one...
2003-04-10 02:35:59 PM  
"Anyone else find this artilcle a little un-patriotic?"

Dunno, why don't you go ask the doctor's wife if the article is a little unpatriotic ?

[image from too old to be available]

2003-04-10 02:36:07 PM  
No-fault health insurance is the answer, for lower premiums, allow people to purchase health insurance with mp limits. It would be similar to having just collision on your car and not full coverage.
2003-04-10 02:36:40 PM  
Irony tag? Let me save some time for those planning on posting about misuse. Use this handy form!

Hey [user name], that's not ironic. Irony is [link to dictionary site].

What would be ironic would be if [similar non-ironic situation]. Read a [expletive] dictionary before posting, [non-endearing term].
2003-04-10 02:37:52 PM  
Recoculous: Well, I see your point; however, people are too litigious. To the point where medical professionals are so bogged down in paperwork, minutae, and reporting requirements that it is difficult for them to provide the care that the patients need. In addition, a lot of times, they are scared to. People are quick to say "Bad doctor!" when it could be anything from the patient's predisposition to handle a certain treatment badly, an undisclosed allergy to a medicine, or anything else. I don't think the solution is to cap damages ($250k for amputating the wrong foot is way low IMO), but for judges to put a stop to the people who view an honest mistake from someone who's trying to save their life as a lottery win.
2003-04-10 02:40:31 PM  
I truly do feel sorry for what happened to this doc's wife, but it strikes me as funny how doctors outlooks on things change when it happens to a loved one.

Had he been on the receiving end of the malpractice lawsuit, you can bet your sweet ass he would have been screaming for award caps so he could keep his summer home and his Jag.
2003-04-10 02:41:53 PM  
I hate doctors. Doctors should post their grades from college. I don't want to be operated on by someone who got C's in anatomy.

"Now where's that spleen again?"
2003-04-10 02:43:42 PM  
Q. What do you call a guy who graduates medical school at the bottom of his class?

A. Doctor.
2003-04-10 02:43:43 PM  
The actual situation is ironic.

However... the headline would have to be cleared up for it to be properly understood to be ironic.

"Doctor skips malpractice insurance rate protest to care for wife injured in surgery accident."

Then there would be no arguing about the irony of the headline.
2003-04-10 02:52:20 PM  

excellent article. i actually make a living defending doctors in malpractice suits and a lot of your observations are dead on. people also fail to see the role managed care plays in the scenario. doctors are under increasing pressure from insurance providers to reduce the cost of care and see more patients. as a result the quality of care has diminished.

caps can be effective if tiered properly. michigan (my state) has seperate a high and low cap. the high cap (approx. $600k)is for spinal/brain/reproductive organ/loss of limb injuries while the low (approx $325k)remains for all others. injuries resulting in death are not capped (as of right now).

a better reform has been the affidavit of merit requirement. plaintiffs must file an affidavit, signed by a doctor practicing the same specialty as the doctor being sued, vouching for the plaintiff's case. doctors don't like turning on other doctors, but most also will call out bad care when they see it. it ensures that a case has some credibility before the process starts.
2003-04-10 02:52:31 PM  
Insurance companies love to rake in premiums but suck when it comes to paying out. That is one industry where bankruptcy should not be allowed.
2003-04-10 02:52:52 PM  
Although I have no energy for a flamewar today, I must put my 2 cents in:

The problem is not the rewards in malpractice cases, most are justly deserved. The problem is that doctor's rates go up every time they are sued. My father has been sued thousands of times over his career, but has never been at fault (or lost a case, knock on wood). Still his rates kept going up and up, and eventually forced him to abandon his practice. Doctors simply do not get paid enough by insurance companies to pay the malpractice. Right before he left the hospital where he was working, my father broke it down. He would have to deliver 1000 babies per year just to pay the premiums (let alone a salary for himself), while the law dictates that no doctor can deliver more than 500 per year. Hmmmmmm... and we wonder why only the crappy doctors are practicing... You do the math.
2003-04-10 02:54:55 PM  
Wydok normally doctors got incredibly good grades as an undergrad, so that really wouldn't tell you much. There's so much competition to get into medical school, you need near perfect grades to do it. That means the people who get in tend to take as many easy classes as possible, take advantage of grade inflation, and tend to be the type of people who can memorize what the teacher says and regurgitate it but have no real clue what it means.

I'm not certain that it's a bad thing that we pretty much force doctors to be the type who aren't brilliant/genius in the traditional sense but are good at memorizing what someone told them. But that's how things end up.
2003-04-10 02:55:20 PM  
I've worked in hospitals for a number of years. I've met doctors that I would follow anywhere, and I've met people with MD behind their name that I wouldn't want to throw water on me if I was on fire.

There's a distinction that not a lot of people get. The body heals itself. The doctor's job is to stablize any life threatening things (massive blood loss, usually) and give the body a chance to work things out. That's all the drugs and the procedures do. Rarely does a procedure "fix" a problem. It may simply fix enough things so the body can catch up.

Medical tests are simply indications of the body's progress. The tests (when done right) can also alert a competent doctor to a problem which has not manifested itself in another way (pain, dizziness, etc).

So the problem comes in when people think they can go to the doctor and become completely healthy with just a few pills. Does not matter if they have been smoking asbestos and drinking Pine-Sol for 40 years, one prescription and a shot will clear everything up. And if it doesn't, they sue.

Yes, there are some doctors who should not be practicing gardening, much less surgery. Those people need to have their license yanked, and sent back to school for another degree. You can't do this one, try again.

But the vast majority of doctors really do want their patients to be healthy, and care enough about them, and their livelihood, to practice medicine with care and keep themselves trained and in the proper condition to perform that duty. These guys are getting the shaft, because the medical industry as a whole is getting a bad name because of what you hear on the news.

Case in point. The heart-lung transplant case in North Carolina recently. What happened there, is somewhere along the way, communication broke down, and organs of an incompatible blood type were implanted in this girl. That is the fault of the hospital, the organ center, and every person who was supposed to double and triple check everything. Someone cut a corner and exposed a lot of people to litigation. The doctor should have checked it. The hospital should have checked it. It was not done. I hope the parents of that girl rip them a new one.

That was a case of negligence and malpractice. People did not do their job, and someone paid with their life. This was inexcusable. This is also the extreme.

I've heard of doctors being sued because a suture came loose. Never mind the guy with the sutures was doing something he shouldn't have been before and after the incident that required stitches, and suffered no major blood loss or other trauma, but he wound up with a slightly larger scar than he would have had otherwise. He hired a lawyer the next day. Even if the malpractice insurance company wanted to fight it, they would still have to put time and resorces (which cost money) into it. It's usually cheaper and easier to settle, which sends the wrong message.

/winded after long rant
2003-04-10 02:55:26 PM  
Then there would be no arguing about the irony of the headline.

I'm sure there would still be people up in arms, no matter how clear the headline was. This is Fark, after all. Have a peek at the flames in the "possible underground nuclear facility" thread. It does say possible in the headline, no?
2003-04-10 02:57:18 PM  
Oh don't worry. I'm sure market forces will take care of the probl- pfft hahahahhahah! Yeah, right.

What's needed is a penalty for frivolous claims. You smoke, drink, listen to Kenny G and vote Republican. Your baby is born dumb, underweight without musical taste, and gonad-less. The doctor must have screwed up, right? No. And if you sue, you ought to get penalized and so should your lawyer.

Doctors need protection from bad lawsuits. Patients need protection from bad doctors. Caps are just a bad idea that accomplishes neither goal.
2003-04-10 03:02:10 PM  
Smoke? Check.
Drink? Check.
Vote Republican? Check.
Listen to Kenny G? Now them's fightin' words.
2003-04-10 03:03:35 PM  
Let me see if I can read between the lines:
1) Doctor gets sick of looking at aging wife, talks her into getting a boob job and some other cosmetic surgery

2) During the first procedure (boob job) something goes horribly wrong and her face and chest get badly burned

3) Doctor sues other doctor to get enough money to set up his soon-to-be-ex wife so he will be able to leave her with a clear conscience

4) Doctor finds younger trophy wife lives happily ever after for about 20 years until,

5) Process starts all over again

Actually, I hope I am wrong and she has a speedy recovery and the doctor and his wife live happily ever after.
2003-04-10 03:04:35 PM  
Anyone else think The Surgical Accidents would be a good band name?
/trying to stifle impending flamewar with cheeze
2003-04-10 03:06:37 PM  

what's this? an actual topic-driven discussion on FARK with 9 out of 10 comments being thoughful and well-informed opinions ON TOPIC? no cliches? no flames? no complaints about misuse of IRONIC tag?

*walks away shaking head, in search of stiff drink*
2003-04-10 03:09:26 PM  

At some medical schools, the requirements are a little different. Since there is no such thing as a "pre-med" degree it is usually Science, Chemistry, or Biology - or at least something along those lines. But English, Arts, and Business majors can get into med school too...
2003-04-10 03:09:44 PM  
It would be ironic if the doctor was on his way to the protest but got hit by a car and was killed in the ER by an inept surgeon
2003-04-10 03:11:30 PM  

They get born French? (or Belgian, maybe)
2003-04-10 03:12:27 PM  
Malpractice award caps = good
Kenny G = bad

That entirely sums up my thoughts on this thread.
2003-04-10 03:17:04 PM  
Perhaps malpratice should be a criminal charge instead of a civil trial. You get found guilty, automatic revoke of license. Game over.

Sidi, what you say makes sense.

I still dislike doctors though. Mostly because the onese I deal with assume I know jack since I am not a doctor. Horrible service, horrible attitudes. They keep telling me what to do, as if I was the one getting paid, instead of the other way round.

We had a doctor deliver our first baby. We had a midwife the second time. We learned our lesson real quick.
2003-04-10 03:17:17 PM  
Xj14y yeah. At my school people planning to be doctors almost always end up taking at least o-chem and the survey of biochemistry (the lowest biochem class), I think because most medical schools require it. So it's not like they're taking all comm classes.

Usually it's fairly easy to split the people into a biochem class into what they're looking to do. Those who want to be doctors are more focused and grade driven, they're usually the ones studying their asses off. Those looking to do research tend to be a little more interested in the ideas and a lot more likely to go partying or whatever, even if it means they forget the cofactor of the e1 subunit of pyruvate dehydrogenase on the exam.

These are huge generalizations (which are always false) of course...and a lot of people don't fit them.
2003-04-10 03:23:15 PM  

mmmmmm... Waffles...
2003-04-10 03:25:41 PM  
I live in a state where much of the population doesn't have health insurance because of the cost. I feel sorry for the burned woman, sure. But shiat happens. There are more important places for that money to be going now than towards trying to make that shiat unhappen. You have to make a choice: a) Provide quality health care to a few people at high cost so that you can give vast sums to anybody who gets hurt by the health care system, or b) Eliminate the massive payoffs, but keep small penalties to make sure that the system doesn't promote sloppy behavior, and provide quality health care to many more people.

How much pain and suffering are you willing to create in order to recompense certain people for their pain and suffering? The current system sets no limits on it.

People go into a doctor's office knowing the risks; trying to undo every tragedy is utopianism, and causes greater problems than it solves.
2003-04-10 03:30:26 PM  

I found out that little tidbit during my brief stint as a pre-med.

And o chem is a bear, ain't it? The only thing that's really stuck with me is about half of the citric acid cycle. That's because I saw a guy on PBS do something on it during a pledge drive. He made it stick better than the professor did.
2003-04-10 03:33:58 PM  
Recommended classes for Med School:

Intro to Biology
General Chemistry I + Lab
Math (i.e. Calculus I)

Microbiology + Lab
General Chemistry II + Lab


Organic Chemistry I + Lab
Physics I + Lab

Ogranic Chemistry II + Lab
Physics II + Lab


Anatomy & Phys. I + Lab
General Genetics

Anatomy & Phys. II + Lab
Cell Biology

April: MCAT
2003-04-10 03:41:40 PM  
And the "guy" who I couldn't think of earlier was Covert Bailey (Harvard undergrad and an MS in Biochem from MIT, no less) He does infomercials now, but still a very smart guy.
2003-04-10 03:46:31 PM  
It makes a huge difference what the professor is like for science classes. A bad teacher can make it impossible to learn even the most basic things, and unfortunately science seems to attract a lot of bad teachers.
2003-04-10 04:21:23 PM  
I've heard of doctors being sued because a suture came loose. Never mind the guy with the sutures was doing something he shouldn't have been before and after the incident that required stitches, and suffered no major blood loss or other trauma, but he wound up with a slightly larger scar than he would have had otherwise. He hired a lawyer the next day.

Sounds like he needs the Dr Denis Leary treatment
2003-04-10 04:25:46 PM  
You are right on about the professors. My old college roommate almost lost his Honors status because he failed engineering mechanics. He confronted the professor about it and he (the professor) said that some people just don't get his teaching style. Obviously, as my roommate took the class again from another professor and aced it.
2003-04-10 04:42:09 PM  
Well...I'm not sure if it's the bright side or not...:

But I have heard of cauterizing instruments igniting gas during the removal of polyps in the colon.....

either way...ouch!
2003-04-10 05:07:10 PM  
[image from too old to be available]
2003-04-10 05:27:30 PM  
The issue was huge in Maryland this year. The Board of Physicians Quality Assurance was up for renewal and a huge fight developed about burden of proof levels for disciplining doctors. Some Maryland doctors were making mistakes and not getting punished, but the docs worked hard to keep their "clear and convincing" standard of proof. Other states only use "preponderance of evidence."

Maryland has award caps ($600,000) and still people are complaining about the high cost of insurance.

Add to that a successful bill that exempts hospitals from Consumer Protection Act lawsuits (even if they do advertise themselves as "The Heart Center" or "The Woman's Hospital") and it can erode support for what is an important issue in other states.

You get the sense that docs would push it as far as they could. Liability is a pretty good way to ensure professionalism.
2003-04-10 06:35:41 PM  
This guy should know better than most people that accidents happen. I hope his referrals have dropped. You don't go out and destroy someone else's life because your wife, or another loved one was involved in an accident.
2003-04-10 07:01:57 PM  
I was surprised to check in on this thread, and see the absence of a flame war.

BTW, yes, to properly illustrate the irony, the word "malpractice" would have been a quality addition to the headline. I'll take the hit for that one.

Nightsweat: I'm a Democrat, who doesn't smoke, doesn't drink, and doesn't listen to Kenny G.

xj14y, LexiLuthor and others:
Yes, there are good Doctors. Thank God for them. But we can't ignore the bad Doctors.

And there are doctors sued for stupid things. Thank God for the Courts to decide who is right. But we can't ignore true malpractice and say the truly wronged can't be helped in court.

And there are good doctors who are sued for stupid things. Some are found not liable and their rates still go up. My auto insurance rates go up, even though I've never had an at-fault accident. My homeowners insurance rates rise, even though I've never filed a claim. The insurance industry has its own ways of doing business that don't necessarily involve the good doctors or the Courts. I think we need to look at the industry first, before we exclude the injured from relief, or unduly protect the subpar doctor.
2003-04-10 07:30:03 PM  
That means the people who get in tend to take as many easy classes as possible, take advantage of grade inflation, and tend to be the type of people who can memorize what the teacher says and regurgitate it but have no real clue what it means

I disagree.

This may work up until you have to take the MCAT (Medical College Admission Test). Here, everything you've learned in physics, chemistry, and biology will be thrown on your shoulders and you have to apply everything you've learned in one test that will make or break your future.

There is no BSing your way into medical school. And there definitely is no BSing your way OUT of medical school either. The first two years of medical school are academic. The second two years are learning to apply what you know. After you've finish with medical school, you have to take your board examinations. Physician devote massive amounts of time to passing their boards. This not only includes factual knowledge, but practical application of this knowledge.

It takes more than being able to regurgitate facts to become a physician.
2003-04-11 02:25:06 AM  
The American Medical Association controls admissions to medical schools, and keeps them atificially low, perpetuating the shortage of MDs, for their own interest. Allow the monopoly to continue, and watch health care in this nation rot from the inside out.

Inflection point right about now. Previously, you have been seen by a doctor. In the future, you will be seen by a "physician's assistant" (just as good, really, but with much less ego, typically).

I don't see quality decreasing for those able to afford it. I see the fraction able to afford it shrinking...

/resuming my previous policy of not explaining
2003-04-11 10:21:39 AM  
The way the insurance was explained to me is:

Premiums are divided into 3 main accounts.

First - takes care of current operating expenses.
Second - takes care of future claims.
Third - invested. This is where the insurance company makes its profit.

Money is NEVER transferred from one account to another so, for example, high claims paid out due to a hurricane, can deplete that account even though the insurance company still has millions in the other two.

A drop in investment return or rise in operating cost or claims paid will result in a rate increase.

I wish I could run a business like that. They end up saying they're broke while still making tons of money from the investment accounts.
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