Today, we proudly celebrate our 1,000th consecutive daily blog — we began daily blogging on March 5, 2011. Along the way, we have attempted to provide information that educates, illustrates, and explains the varied issues involving medical malpractice and health care in the United States. We have timely reported on medical malpractice verdicts and medical malpractice settlements throughout the United States. We have discussed varying efforts by states to restrict and redefine victim rights in medical malpractice claims. We have focused on emerging issues in medical malpractice laws. We have exposed the health care industry as an enormously profitable business that engages in extreme efforts to protect its own financial interests, even when its profit-interest is detrimental to patient health and well-being.
We are constantly reminded of the duality of health care in the United States (the devils and the saints, if you will): on the one hand, medical advancements achieved by deeply devoted and dedicated researchers have contributed to relieving the pain and disability of people suffering from acute injuries and chronic diseases. Drug research has led to medications and treatments that focus on previously terminal conditions and extend how long people can remain active and productive. Advancing medical technology has resulted in surgical robots that can better perform delicate and complicated surgeries, medical marvels that can more accurately and less dangerously analyze our bodies to detect conditions that can now be treated earlier and more effectively resulting in better outcomes for patients, and the introduction, use, and expansion of telemedicine that has brought the same level of medical care to rural patients that has been available to people fortunate to live in urban areas where large academic health care systems are at the forefront of medical research.
On the seedier and greedier side of health care in the United States, we continue to read on a weekly basis about large pharmaceutical companies, both here in the United States and abroad, that have been investigated by federal agencies and have been found to have negligently, and sometimes intentionally, lied about the effectiveness of their products or maliciously hidden the known risks and serious complications and harms caused by their products solely to line their corporate pockets with ill-gotten profits. Examples include large, international pharmaceutical companies that have settled fraud claims “without admitting liability to avoid the uncertainties of litigation” by paying millions of dollars in fines and restitution payments without having to face the consumers of their defective products who suffered sometimes fatal consequences from using their dangerous drugs.
We also learned about large health care corporations that marketed their artificial hip and knee implants that were defective and harmful to the patients who relied on their promises of a better quality of life once they received the life-changing devices, only to learn later that the implants they received were known at the time they received them to be defective in some serious manner — now, they live in greater pain and with greater disability than before they were implanted with the harmful medical products.
We also read about physicians, other health care providers, and so-called durable medical equipment providers (those who sell wheelchairs, walkers, bedside commodes, and home medical supplies) who have been fraudulently billing Medicare and Medicaid for medical goods not provided, poor quality medical goods, or they have illegally paid Medicare recipients so that they can bill Medicare under their names and Medicare numbers for unnecessary medical resources that end up costing taxpayers billions in unnecessary health care costs annually and prevent the limited supply of medical resources from reaching those who deserve and need them the most.
Other examples of health care fraud include cardiac surgeons who attempt to justify implanting stents in people who do not need them by intentionally misrepresenting the extent of blockages in coronary arteries, surgeons who cause unintended injuries during surgery (such as damaging or removing a healthy organ) but fail to mention or outright lie about the event in the medical records or in face-to-face conversations with the patient or the patient’s family, medical providers who “upcode” the services they provided so that they undeservedly get paid at a higher rate by Medicare or the patient’s health insurance company, and health care providers who alter medical records to cover up their wrongdoings and shortcomings (we have blogged about criminally incompetent physicians and surgeons who have been allowed to continue to harm their patients despite their employers or supervisors knowing that patients were suffering or dying unnecessarily).
In our blogs we have tried to shed light on the ever-expanding and increasingly powerful health care industry in the United States and its well-paid and influential lobbyists on the federal, state, and local levels, who have obfuscated the medical malpractice issues in the United States. The health care industry has led a laser-sharp effort to blind people from awareness and understanding of the causes and cures for medical malpractice by attempting to focus the ire of the public on the innocent victims of medical malpractice. For example, the mantra of the health care industry’s attack on the rights of medical malpractice victims to be fairly compensated for their injuries caused solely by the medical negligence committed by their medical providers focuses on the visceral, unsupported charge that “frivolous lawsuits,” “runaway juries,” and “greedy plaintiff’s attorneys” are causing medical malpractice insurance rates to skyrocket, which studies have shown to be false.
When was the last time you read a press release from the health care industry disclosing its efforts to weed out incompetent or dangerous medical providers, its efforts to protect patients from medical malpractice, or even an acknowledgement that there are bad doctors making bad decisions causing patients to suffer bad injuries or death and who are substantially contributing to an increase in medical malpractice insurance premiums paid by competent and diligent medical providers?
Perhaps the most serious issue faced by patients whose lives (and the lives of their families) have been devastated by the consequences of medical malpractice is so-called “tort reform” (also referred to as “medical malpractice reform”) that is viciously championed by the health care industry as necessary to protect medical care in the United States. The term “reform” is employed because “reform” implies improvement; however, medical malpractice tort reforms such as caps (limits) on compensation that can be recovered by those who are most seriously injured as a result of medical malpractice (such as a newborn who suffers permanent brain damage because of medical negligence or the teenager who will be unable to walk and will remain in a wheelchair for the rest of his life because a medical provider negligently failed to timely diagnose his serious medical condition), unnecessary legal obstacles imposed on medical malpractice victims’ rights to obtain adequate, fair, and timely compensation for their losses caused by medical malpractice, and overly-restrictive limits on who may testify as medical experts in medical malpractice claims have spread like a cancer to harm those whom the judicial system was historically intended to protect.
Reform laws designed to protect the financial interests of physicians who provide incompetent care that destroy patient lives cause those who have been severely injured by medical malpractice to be victimized twice — first, by the incompetent medical provider who had the sole ability to avoid the unnecessary harm caused to the patient, and then a second time, by the laws that protect and promote bad medical care. Why should a small group of influential, powerful, and wealthy individuals be provided special protection by laws that benefit them but harm the rest of us?
Too often we get calls from the victims of medical malpractice or their families who are shocked to learn that the medical malpractice laws in their state unfairly restrict their rights to obtain fair and reasonable compensation for the serious and life-shortening injuries they suffered as a result of the clear medical negligence committed by their medical providers. Many are shocked to learn that incompetent doctors and bad hospitals can hide behind bad laws that subverted their rights so that the health care industry in their state could further profit and prosper. Many question out loud who will pay for their future medical care that will be required solely because of medical negligence (as a public policy consideration, should Medicare or Medicaid, which are funded by taxpayer dollars, be responsible to pay for future medical expenses related to medical malpractice or should the negligent medical provider (or his/her insurance company) be saddled with that responsibility?).
We will continue to participate in the efforts to protect the interests of the innocent victims of medical malpractice and their families by continuing to blog about important medical malpractice and health care issues that may now or in the future affect you, your family, and your community.
If you or a loved one may have been injured or suffered other harms as a result of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly seek the legal advice of a medical malpractice attorney in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Click here to visit our website or call us toll-free at 800-295-3959 to be connected with medical malpractice lawyers in your state who may assist you with your malpractice claim.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.