Friday, August 30, 2013

"The Worst Surgeon I've Ever Seen"

Thank God this surgeon has finally lost his license...no comfort to the patients he maimed or killed though:
Physicians who complained about Duntsch to the Texas Medical Board and to the hospitals he worked at described his practice in superlative terms. They used phrases like “the worst surgeon I’ve ever seen.” One doctor I spoke with, brought in to repair one of Duntsch’s spinal fusion cases, remarked that it seemed Duntsch had learned everything perfectly just so he could do the opposite. Another doctor compared Duntsch to Hannibal Lecter three times in eight minutes.
Enforcement by the Texas Medical Board can only make things better--bad doctors only hurt and kill patients...and make things more difficult for good doctors...the Texas Observer has a well-written piece about the lack of enforcement.  Hopefully things will change for the better before more innocent patients are maimed or killed:
Public Citizen concluded that the board moves slowly because it’s understaffed and underfunded. But when I talked to Medical Board spokesperson Megan Goode about this, she said Public Citizen had it wrong—that the board isn’t underfunded at all. Things were rough during the state budget crisis in 2011, but now hiring is back up to normal.
The problem, she said, isn’t staff. In an official statement, she wrote, “The way the law is currently written, with a high bar of evidence for the board to meet, the process can take time so that the board can build a solid case. It would clearly be a policy decision for the Legislature to consider whether the process or the standards for evidence required for a temporary suspension need to change.”
Leigh Hopper, formerly the Medical Board spokesperson, put it more bluntly. “You could have a Medical Board that’s the size of the [Texas Department of Public Safety],” she said, “but the state doesn’t want that. It’s more or less satisfied with the way that things work.”






Thursday, August 29, 2013

President Lincoln was a Great Trial Lawyer

Nice to see the courage from UH law student Benjamin Kemmy to highlight the hypocrisy of tort "reformers" in Texas...and the greatness of our 16th President--a great trial lawyer.

My favorite example is the 1857 case, Macready v. City of Alton. Mary Macready, a New York actress, was walking down the street in Alton, Ill., and fell through some sidewalk construction and badly injured her ankle, leg and back. Lincoln demanded $20,000 but was only able to recover $300 at a jury trial.
Imagine that! Not more than four years before he began prosecuting the war to save the Union, the Great Emancipator was prosecuting a simple P.I. case!
But if you know a little bit about Lincoln, and you’re a not a member of Texans for Lawsuit Reform, that shouldn’t come as too big of a surprise. Lincoln, a true lover of the American justice system, had great respect for its foundational practice—the trial by jury.
Juries, as Lincoln well knew, are one of the indispensible features of self-government, where we as representatives of our community decide what practices endanger our safety and wellbeing.
Or as Lincoln put it, in his famous Rock Island Bridge case, “What is reasonable skill and care? This is a thing of which the jury is to judge.” And it’s precisely the thing that Texans for Lawsuit Reform don’t want us as jury to judge.