Monday, January 20, 2003

Regarding the potential medical malpractice tort deform, you should call, write or email your Senators and Representative to discourage them from changing tort laws relating to physicians, pharmaceutical companies and health care providers. The specific change called for by Congressman Dr. Bill Frist is a $250,000 cap on 'noneconomic' malpractice damage awards, which includes such things as disfigurement, pain and suffering, and disability.

Thus, under Dr. Frist's proposal:
(a) Doctor cuts off the wrong leg of a 2 year old -> $250,000 is the maximum ever available for disfigurement, pain and suffering, and disability.
(b) Doctor cuts off the wrong arm of a 40 year old with 3 children -> $250,000 is the maximum ever available for disfigurement, pain and suffering, and disability.
(c) Doctor negligently kills a 30 year old mother of 2 children who dies after a month of sufffering -> $250,000 is the maximum ever available for disfigurement, pain and suffering, and disability.
(d) Doctor negligently kills a 30 year old mother of 2 children who dies after 2 years of sufffering -> $250,000 is the maximum ever available for disfigurement, pain and suffering, and disability.

Check out some of the public information available at http://www.questionabledoctors.org/ and http://www.worstpills.org/. Millions of people have been and are affected by medical negligence and dangerous pharmaceutical products and if Dr. Frist gets the radical changes he is looking for, the public will be at risk and we will all be effected.

Wisconsin citizens will not find public information relating to the medical malpractice of a negligent Wisconsin doctor and physician on these sites. However, the Wisconsin Department of Regulation and Licensing's Reports of Decisions December 1998 to Present that allows you to type in the last name of the license holder, the profession, or text you wish to search. The decisions "routinely included are decisions in cases initiated by the filing of a formal complaint or petition for summary suspension, disciplinary decisions reached through stipulation, cases dismissed without discipline, interim orders staying imposition of discipline, and orders modifying limitations previously imposed." You may also file a complaint against a Wisconsin physician by phoning 608/266-7482. You may also contact the Wisconsin Medical Examining Board at 608/266-2811 as this Wisconsin entity reviews and is supposed to act on complaints made against Wisconsin doctors. I do not suggest contacting the Wisconsin Medical Society as this is a professional organization that actually represents many Wisconsin physicians, Wisconsin residents and Wisconsin medical school students.

For filing complaints or discussing problems relating to Wisconsin health care providers other than Wisconsin doctors or Wisconsin physicians, go to the Wisconsin Department of Health and Family Services - "If You Have a Problem Page".

Sunday, January 19, 2003

For the record, no one should take the political commentary on this site out of context so as to try and label me a liberal Democrat or a conservative Republican. The fact is that there are good and bad leaders in both parties on every level of government - from school boards to the White House. The problem I see with regard to personal injury issues, however, is that many Republicans and some Democrats fail to appreciate the critical role tort lawyers play in making injured victims whole and keeping products, highways and hospitals safe. I kid around with family members about making people whole, but the fact is that personal injury lawyers in Wisconsin and elsewhere are simply a different type of doctor trying to help put back together someone whose life has been damaged by someone else's negligent conduct. All we can do is get money for those people because that's all that can be done. In addition though, there is the deterent effect - everyone knows that if they are negligent in a manner that causes injury to someone else, they may be brought to court. When it comes to medical malpractice, the same holds true.

Presently, our system of justice - which makes people harmed by medical negligence whole and deters doctors and nurses from negligent conduct - is under seige by the insurance industry. However, the problem with enacting the changes it requests are as follows:
(1) The insurance industry has far too much control over our health care system. These companies are pillaging business on every level, including lawyers and doctors. This needs to be changed. USA Today explained in "Managed care insurers' profits are up" how managed care insurers forced customers into outrageous premium increases stating that "With the exception of Cigna, third-quarter earnings were up 47% on average for 11 major insurers..." and yet "Premiums are expected to rise an average of 15.4% this year....."
(2) Until we reform the insurance industry to substantially reduce the control these companies have on the health care system, we will not be able to reduce and stabilize malpractice premiums for doctors or more importantly, to assure appropriate and reasonable (non-negligent) care for patients.
(3) Caps on the amount of damages recoverable in a malpractice case never have and never will lower medical malpractice insurance rates for doctors. See the January 2003 note published in the Insurance Industry's own journal, Insurance Journal: Study by West Virginia Lawmakers shows that Damage Caps Won't Lower Med-Mal Coverage Rates, which also refers to another study done by a consumer group that found medical malpractice insurance premiums track economic cycles and not pay-outs in malpractice cases, which have remained flat for the last decade.
(4) Instead of helping the insurance industry by taking away people's rights, we need to take away the insurance industry's anti-trust exemption and enact other insurance reforms. The insurance industry should not have more rights than patients and presently such companies are legally permitted to collude and fix prices. Insurance companies should have to operate like nearly every other business in America, and not be permittedd to collude and fix prices.

For more substantive information see and join the Center for Justice and Democracy and check out the free fact sheets it offers this month which include the following Adobe .PDF files:
Doctors' Voices: The Problem with Malpractice is Malpractice
Women Terrorized by the Falsehoods About Doctor Availability Due to Malpractice Insurance; Evidence Shows Doctors are Coming into States, Not Leaving

If you have a chance, see my Wisconsin law firm site at Wisconsin Personal Injury Attorney