Dr James Schaller
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SHOULD A MALPRACTICE ATTORNEY BE PRESIDENT?

The Battle to Allow American's Freedom to Purchase Affordable Canadian Scripts Reaches New Bizarre Low

"A government that's big enough to give you everything you want is big enough to take it all away."
Barry Goldwater

I hold the radical position that trial lawyers know nothing about medicine, but are sure good at making millions of dollars. They have destroyed medicine in many states, including Pennsylvania and Florida. But they are becoming multimillionaires, while medical care dissolves.

I should mention, elsewhere, I criticize the President for allowing the FDA to run wild closing Canadian importation OF AFFORDABLE QUALITY DISCOUNTED MEDICATIONS by individuals AND EVEN INDIVIDUAL STATES. SINCE WHEN IS A STATE DUMBER THAN THE FDA? STATE POLITICIANS ARE CLOSER TO THEIR STRUGGLING SENIORS THAN THE FDA. He also allows the FDA to attack brilliant compounding pharmacists who make inventive and tailored medications. OUR TAX DOLLARS ARE NOT FOR USING THE FDA AS A BOUNCER FOR DRUG COMPANIES AND IGNORANT CONTROL FREAKS THAT WILL NOT ALLOW YOU TO HAVE A CUSTOMIZED COMPOUNDED MEDICATION AT A DOSE THAT HELPS YOU, MADE FROM FDA APPROVED POWDERS. PRESIDENT BUSH IS ALSO not CONTROLLING overbearing state MEDICAL boards, the Justice Department and the DEA who are actively acting to remove chronic pain care, LEAVING YOU ONLY WITH THE KNIFE OR SPINE NEEDLES AS OPTIONS.

But back to Mr. Edwards.

According to the Washington Times author, Charles Hurt, The American Medical Association lists North Carolina's current health care situation as a "crisis" and blames it on medical-malpractice lawsuits such as the ones that made John Edwards a millionaire many times over. One of the most successful malpractice lawyers in North Carolina history, Mr. Edwards won dozens of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals. He won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and 31 of those were medical-malpractice suits.

During his 20 years of suing doctors and hospitals, he pioneered the art of blaming psychiatrists for patients who commit suicide and blaming doctors for delivering babies with cerebral palsy.

Edwards crushed [obstetrics, gynecology] and neurosurgery in North Carolina, according to Dr. Craig VanDerVeer, a Charlotte neurosurgeon. "As a result, thousands of patients lost their health care."

"And all of this for the little people?" he asked, a reference to Mr. Edwards' argument that he represented regular people against mighty foes such as prosperous doctors and big insurance companies. "How many little people do you know who will supply you with $60 million in legal fees over a couple of years?"

Through a spokeswoman, Mr. Edwards declined to make any specific comment.

Edwards medical plan calls for one measure that Mr. Edwards previously had said was meaningless -- imposing caps on verdicts for economic damages or limits on attorneys' fees.

One of his most noted victories was a $23 million settlement in 1995. He sued the doctor, gynecological clinic, anesthesiologist and hospital involved in the birth of Bailey Griffin, who had cerebral palsy and other medical problems.

Linking complications during childbirth to cerebral palsy became a specialty for Mr. Edwards. In the courtroom, he was known to dramatize the events at birth by speaking to jurors as if he were the unborn baby, begging for help, begging to be let out of the womb.

"He was very good at it," said Dr. John Schmitt, an obstetrician and gynecologist who used to practice in Mr. Edwards' hometown of Raleigh. "But the science behind a lot of his arguments was flawed." I take this to mean he would knowingly lie and presented junk science to get his cut of the malpractice insurance money.

In 2003, the American Academy of Pediatrics and the American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists published a joint study that cast serious doubt on whether events at childbirth cause cerebral palsy. The "vast majority" of cerebral palsy cases originate long before childbirth, according to the study. Of course the merits of this study and others do not matter when you are merely on the way to getting rich -- he could have always taken a few less million and given it to foundations for the ill or to his clients.

"Now, he would have a much harder time proving a lot of his cases," said Dr. Schmitt, who now practices at the University of Virginia Health System.

Another profitable area of litigation for Mr. Edwards was lawsuits against psychiatrists whose patients committed suicide. The fact is that any of us could kill ourselves at any time and no relative or physician "causes" suicide. It is a genetic coping mechanism and has dozens of contributors--family stress, losses, substance abuse, major depression, relational losses, anxiety, etc.

In 1991, he won $2.2 million for the estate of a woman who hanged herself in a hospital after being removed from suicide watch.

Potential jurors said they did not understand how a doctor could be responsible. So Mr. Edwards excluded them from the jury.

In the end, Mr. Edwards scored $1.5 million for "wrongful death" and $175,000 in "emotional distress" for the woman's children.

In 1995, as Mr. Edwards neared the pinnacle of his success, Lawyers Weekly reported on the state's 50 biggest settlements of the year.

"Like last year, the medical malpractice category leads the new list, accounting for 16 cases -- or 32 percent -- three points better than last year," the magazine reported. "By and large, that upward trend had held since 1992, when only four [medical malpractice] cases made the survey." Mr. Edwards was singled out.

"Another reason for this year's [medical malpractice] jump was a strong showing by the Raleigh firm of Edwards & Kirby," it reported. "Partner John Edwards was lead counsel in eight of the 16 medical malpractice cases in the top 50."

Later in that article, Mr. Edwards was interviewed about the $5 million he won from doctors who delivered Ethan L. Bedrick, who had cerebral palsy. Mr. Edwards credited the jury focus groups that he routinely used to help prepare his arguments.

"They gave me several bits and pieces of information to use when addressing the jury," Mr. Edwards was quoted saying. "You can use them to decide whether to get involved in a case or whether to accept a settlement offer, but our primary use is trial presentation."

The article went on to observe: "Focus groups can be put together for as little as $300, according to Edwards -- a small investment compared to the $5 million won in Bedrick." It is not clear just how much Mr. Edwards made as a lawyer, but estimates based on a review of his lawsuit settlements and Senate records place his fortune at about $38 million. Like many Democrats, Mr. Edwards has benefited from the generosity of fellow trial lawyers, who have given millions of dollars to Mr. Edwards' political campaigns and other political endeavors.

Part of the platform that Mr. Edwards is running on includes medical-malpractice reform. The Democrats' plan would go after insurance companies that increase doctors' premiums and ban lawyers and plaintiffs for 10 years if they file three frivolous lawsuits.

One tenet of their plan would "require that individuals making medical-malpractice claims first go before a qualified medical specialist to make sure a reasonable grievance exists." However, Mr. Edwards said in a 1995 interview that such pre-screening is unnecessary.

"Pre-screening as a concept is very good, but it's already done by every experienced malpractice lawyer," he told North Carolina Lawyers Weekly.

As a result of these and other cases, insurance rates for doctors have skyrocketed -- putting some out of business and driving others away, especially from rural areas. And doctors who have lost cases to Mr. Edwards have been bankrupted.

Patients, meanwhile, are left with rising health care costs and fewer -- if any -- doctors in their area. It is increasingly a nationwide problem, physicians say.

Dr. VanDerVeer, the Charlotte neurosurgeon, recalled one recent night on duty when two patients arrived in an emergency room in Myrtle Beach, S.C., where the area's last neurosurgeons quit earlier this year.

"No one in Myrtle Beach would accept responsibility for these patients," he said. "And because it was raining, the helicopters were grounded, so the patients were loaded into ambulances and driven the four hours to Charlotte."

Upon arrival, one patient had died, and the other learned that she merely had a minor concussion -- and a $6,000 bill for the ambulance ride.

"That's just one little slice of life here," Dr. VanDerVeer said. "It's a direct result of the medical-malpractice situation that John Edwards fomented."

Dr. Schmitt had spent 20 years delivering babies in Raleigh. Though he had no claims against him, his insurance tripled in one year. With no assurances that his rates would ever drop, or just stop rising, he left town.

"We are currently being sued out of existence," Dr. VanDerVeer said. "People have to choose whether they want these lawyers to make gazillions of dollars in pain and suffering awards or whether they want health care."

Medical Errors--The Reality

If someone leaves a sponge in the surgical field, an injury follows. The surgeon will likely settle. Amputate the healthy leg, leave the gangrenous leg on. Same result. It is the controversial practices that end up in court. Medical controversies are being settled by unqualified people who have no desire to do so. A court decision is the super-practice of medicine. It sets precedent. If the defendant wins, no lawyer will want a similar case. If the plaintiff wins, all doctors are forced to practice that way.

Medical malpractice is the unauthorized super-practice of medicine by unqualified and reluctant people, a Judge, and a jury.

Since the Judge, jury and malpractice lawyers are practicing medicine without a license, the setting of a standard for all doctors does something else. It is human experimentation without consent, at the population level. As such, it is a mass crime against humanity. From a conscience point of view, what if the jury is wrong. The C-section to prevent cerebral palsy (CP) is a failed medical human experiment. It did not reduce CP, in contrast to the court room games of Senator Edwards. It appears to have increased asthma and gastroenteritis (intestinal disease).

As a juror, I would simply refuse to set standards for road building, toy manufacturing. I would have no way to judge the validity of the technical expertise. I would not even be allowed to do my own independent research of the current state of the art of toy making.

How You and Your Loved Ones Get Burned By Those "Caring" Sharks -- Malpractice Attorneys

  1. You will lose physicians if you live in a state with high lawsuits. Amusingly, I log onto trial lawyer websites. They try to deny this is happening. They need to stop using so many hallucinogens. I look around me and see the retirements, the moves, the cut services. These people need Thorazine if they think doctors are staying in places where they are being destroyed. True, in past years, some did not leave, retire or cut services immediately. But that has all changed.
  2. You will lose emergency room specialists, e.g., hand surgeons, neurosurgeons, cardiologists, obstetricians, when you need them most.
  3. You or loved ones may die, lose organs or limbs due to excess travel to areas that offer specialized high liability treatment.
  4. The best and brightest are not idiots, and to survive will only treat simple illnesses in patients and will not treat difficult problems which might have modest outcomes. This removes your choices.
  5. You will be forced to endure excess testing which is both a hassle and something you will pay for, as you will see below.
  6. No phone consultations or scripts, which do not generate income to pay off massive malpractice premiums and increase liability.
  7. A slow loss of evening coverage or weekend coverage by your physicians. Instead you will be referred to an emergency room that may be hours away. In both Florida and SE Pennsylvania, which both have many hospitals, I am seeing my patients or family referred to other counties or cities by trauma teams and pediatricians -- facilities hours or hundreds of miles away.
  8. You or your loved ones will get less time with your physician since they have to make more money to pay for their massive overhead -- including paying for out of control MASSIVE malpractice bills.
  9. Routine care for pregnancies or specialist surgeons may be hundreds of miles away.
  10. Any patient service that does not generate income to pay for huge malpractice rates is being lost to you.
  11. Every penny for malpractice payments comes from you. It also comes from the care of other people. It does not come from the assets of doctors. All costs are passed on. Assets of doctors are called "blood money." Lawyers don't touch physician's assets, because they know doctors might actually become very aggressive if that started to happen. Currently, most physicians are merely passively moving away or cutting services; they are not being aggressive. Start talking about taking a physician's home, the home of his family, and you would see every physician in the country become a lion in a day. Bottom line: medical malpractice is a tax on working people and patients. It either raises costs or reduces your access to care.
  12. Lawsuits cause defensive medicine which adds 10% in costs nationally, but which is extra care that is usually worthless to you.
  13. Medical malpractice prevents the investigation of medical errors and the prevention of future ones. Meaning, it kills people and hurts them because no one is willing to go back and look honestly at how care could be improved.

Why Do Lawyers Make Themselves Immune To Their Own Medicine? Is This Hypocritical?

OK. Let's accept these dubious reasons and simplistic beliefs for the massive malpractice feeding frenzy.

Why then do lawyers and Judges (who are also lawyers) deal themselves nearly absolute and absolute immunity from these benefits listed above? Why can't lawyers and Judges be sued so they may receive these great benefits for their work? In the case of Judges, the error rate in the death penalty is 20%.

In the case of medical malpractice, jurors are saying they are wrong 70-80% of the time, with no accountability for the costs and traumas of their wrongdoing.

Malpractice attorneys feel free to impose their "solution" on all of us. Why not expose them to the great benefits of litigation so they may improve their practices and stop hurting people?

Yet where is the data showing that our system achieves any of these goals? Are medical error rates far higher in Germany or Switzerland?

The Haddon Matrix is almost 40 years old. No lawyer has heard of it. Virtually all accident experts work this way now. It certainly applies to medical error prevention. It is far superior to the basic legal concepts of factual causation and proximate legal causation.

In the Haddon matrix for car crashes, the elimination of one of the 12 factors prevents the entire accident.

The blame game played against the deep-pocketed defendant thus precludes the fixing of the 12 other places where opportunities to prevent were missed.

There is also something called comparative liability. It takes the entire value of the injury. It then divides along the lines of "fault."

The plaintiff patient did not report his symptom. The plaintiff failed to show up for a follow up appt. The nurse (and her employer, the hospital) failed to read the chart, gave the wrong medication. The secretary did not report the phone message. The lab tech did not label the sample properly. The plaintiff's parents negligently mated, and transmitted a genetic tendency toward the injury. It can reach back to the Big Bang as origin of fault. The jury then assigns % at fault to each person. If the plaintiff is 51% at fault, the verdict goes against the plaintiff. If it is less than 51%, the verdict is in the favor of the plaintiff. Then the cost of the injury is distributed among the people at fault in proportion to their percent of fault. If a defendant is missing, for example, a bankrupt drug manufacturer, the sum is divided among the remaining parties.

This is 5th grade math, the upper limit of legal system math.

One aim of torts is to increase safe practices.

www.converium.com/3496.asp#Making%20loss%20experience%20an

It is unclear if any comparisons have been made across national lines to see if one system results in fewer errors vs. another. I assume that all lawsuits result in a cover up anywhere they occur.

www.dph.sf.ca.us/CHPP/CAM/4-PublHlthApproach/HaddonMatrix.pdf

To Your Health!

Dr. J


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