Ron Rosenbaum

Tort Reform Ignorance

Have any of you been reading the absolutely horrifying stories in the New York Times series on radiation treatment mutilations and medical murders?

(That’s what they are by the way, the hundreds of thousands who die from malpractice complications, usually after unbearable agony.)

Put yourself in the place of one of these patients who have been literally “cooked’ to death, had irreparable holes burned into their vital organs by incompetent, un-qualified, greedy, uncaring doctors, hospitals, technicians, and medical device profiteers. This isn’t medical malpractice; it’s savage, deadly butchery carried out to make a quick buck off the suffering and fears of (mainly) cancer patients, leaving them and their families physically devastated forever.

Reading the series (I’ve linked to today’s second part, but it’s easy to go back to the beginning) makes one’s disgust with human nature even more intense.

It is only sheer ignorance of the facts — of the millions of medical ” mistakes” with horrifically painful, debilitating, crippling and deadly results — that would cause anyone to take the blundering doctors’ side in this controversy. Sure there are great doctors, some of whom make inadvertent mistakes, but the vast majority of medical malpractice is committed by arrogant, incompetent greed-head MDs who treat patients like factory-farm chickens bound to be butchered sooner or later, so why listen to them squawk and spoil the noble image of godlike authority and benevolence so many doctors still arrogate to themselves?

It’s bad but the evidence is this: doctors don’t learn from their mistakes. They are multiple malefactors. Stopping one with a lawsuit is a blessing to the as-yet uninjured. They keep making damaging mistakes, ruining or ending the lives of patients through carelessness or ignorance or sheer lust to pack in as many paying customers as they can. Lawsuits at least allow citizens’ redress. Anyone who could say “tort reform” is a solution to the health care crisis is ignorant. And yes there are greedy and creepy medical malpractice lawyers, but there are also some who care about the ravages of the ruthless butchery they get to see in their office every day. And the steely unconcern of insurance companies in the face of emergencies or extensive life-saving procedures.

But that’s the way capitalism works. Shark eat shark, and I’d rather have the medical sharks looking over their shoulder at the malpractice sharks than not. Maybe they’ll pay attention when their super high-tech radiation machines are “cooking” and burning holes in people.

The medical care costs of malpractice suits are a drop in the bucket when you consider how fear of malpractice suits prevents mistakes that would have cost many multiples of the original disease in reparative treatment costs.

And before you reply with your standard tort reform talking points — it’s amazing how the lobbyists for the incompetent doctors and greedy insurance companies have gotten ordinary citizens to parrot their propaganda — imagine yourself one of the victims of this cruel and despicable treatment and tell me you want to “protect” the perpetrators of your injuries and the loss to your family your death will mean from lawsuits and punitive damages. That you will go to bat for their wallets over your own internal organs. It’s one of the great intellectual swindles of our time.

It’s become clear to me that the medical and insurance lobbies have made fools of the pro “tort reform” citizens who don’t realize that even worse horrors would result if there weren’t the threat of severe penalties for severe iatrogenic (doctor and hospital caused) injuries. Of course there have been excesses and the medical and insurance lobbies depend on trotting them out to cloud the minds of the gullible

But I dare you — that’s right dare you — to read the radiation malpractice series before squawking “tort reform, tort reform” like a parrot, and then tell me you’re still gung-ho for tort reform. These butchers deserve to be punished and driven out of the profession and if it means bankrupting them for their horrifying mistakes, so be it. Boo hoo.

And if you’re still not convinced, wait until you’re about to go under the knife (it happens to just about everyone, it will happen to you if it hasn’t already ). And think if you want your surgeon feeling insulated by “tort reform” from worrying too much about whether he butchers you or not. I think we’ll see some hospital bed conversions.

At that moment — I’m speaking to all of you about to make some wisecrack about the deplorable John Edwards — you would feel a lot better if, before the scalpel pierced your skin, your surgeon knew John Edwards (or his equivalent) was your lawyer.