Monday, June 15, 2009

Not the Kind of Change I Envisioned

The honeymoon is over. Those of you who have followed my writings and rantings over the past three years know just how much I was enthralled with the prospect that Obama would bring an entirely new perspective into how our federal government operates. Before I get into my current status of disenchantment, I need to present a couple of examples of typical medical malpractice cases I handled over my thirty five years of practice.

Case #1: My client was an emotionally disturbed ex-nun who left her convent after fifteen years (at the age of thirty two). She spent two years trying to establish a social life all the while teaching at a public elementary school. Her inability to relate well to others led her to a prominent psychiatrist in downtown Detroit who she saw weekly for thirteen years. The last ten years of her treatment with Dr. X consisted of her performing fellatiio upon him for forty five minutes while he looked at the pornographic pictures in the magazine she purchased for him that particular week. It should be mentioned that sex under the guise of therapy is a felony in the State of Michigan punishable by ten years imprisonment. It should also be mentioned that patients under psychiatric care undergo what is termed transference. In short, they fall ‘in love’ with their therapists. Ethical therapists recognize that transference is a valuable part of the treatment process and consciously use a variety of acceptable methods and practices to benefit the patient. Ten years after this therapy my client remained an emotional recluse, hoarding objects and animals in her home and rarely ventured outside.

Case #2: My ciient was a young wife and mother pregnant with twins. She had the misfortune of going into labor on a Friday evening, during her obstetrician Dr. Y’s cocktail hour. Dr. Y showed up after having imbibed three martinis and delivered the children. The first child was delivered safely and is entirely normal. He dropped the second infant on her head in the delivery room and the retarded child will spend her life in a wheelchair, all resulting from the damage to her brain from the fall to the floor. Dr. Y was known by hospital personnel to have a drinking problem for at least five years before this incident. At least three nurses present at or prior to the delivery of these children recognized that Dr. Y should not be permitted into the delivery room. A resident in the third year of obstetrical training was present during the delivery and testified that Dr. Y insisted on performing the delivery by himself.

I could go on and on, most particularly in the area of malpractice situations arising from ignorance about prescription drugs; the area where I spent the vast majority of my professional time. But these examples will suffice to make the point I need to make. In each of these cases, prominent colleagues of Drs. X and Y ventured forth and gave ‘expert” testimony as to why the acts of each of them were within the standard of care and were appropriate given the circumstances in each of the case. Never once in thirty five years of practice did I encounter a situation in which the doctor admitted fault and agreed that he had harmed my client without encountering a staunch defense and the defense of the doctor’s acts by his fellow physicians.

Now, as to why the honeymoon is over; Obama has indicated his willingness to curtail medical malpractice cases as part of a medical care overhaul. It should be stated that most states, including Michigan, already have strict procedures in place to ensure that so called nuisance cases do not find their way into the system. In short, there is absolutely no need to further restrict the rights of our citizenry under the Seventh Amendment to the U.S. Constitution to pursue legitimate claims against physicians and hospitals, as well as other medical care providers. The elimination of all medical malpractice cases has long been the mantra of the American Medical Association and the Republican party. For Obama to cave in to these special interest groups under the guise of reducing medical costs will only reduce the quality of care for all of us. Sorry President Obama, but you are absolutely on the wrong side of this issue.

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