Skip to comments.They're Coming For Your Tonsils
Posted on 07/29/2009 5:22:53 PM PDT by Kaslin
Health Costs: Lawyers are responsible for more unneeded procedures than "greedy" doctors. But instead of capping malpractice awards, bureaucrats will soon decide which treatments are OK and whether you're worth it.
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Thanks for the post — bump for later sickening read....
Right. Because it’s not about what’s good for you. It’s about tyranny.
My tonsils are already spoken for, and they can’t have them.
One thing the tort-reform crowd has never made clear to me is exactly what they see as the appropriate cap for medical malpractice awards. If your doctor screws the pooch and kills you or paralyzes you, or turns you into a vegetable, what’s the reasonable dollar limit you should be allowed to recover? Should physicians simply be immune from personal responsibility altogether? I’m curious. Flame away (or better yet give a straight answer).
Both of my sons had their tonsils out too. Back when they were young, doctors didn't want to take out tonsils. They said they helped with the immune system. But both sons suffered from sore throats and earaches like I did. The youngest son was the worse, and try as we might, no specialist in the area wanted to take them out. It got so that he was on penicillin every other month, and missed quite a bit of school. We finally managed to find a doctor about an hour away that would operate. By that time, my son was probably 12 years old. After the operation, the doctor said he'd never seen such huge tonsils and adenoids, and said they were terribly scarred from all the infections he had had.
“If your doctor screws the pooch and kills you or paralyzes you, or turns you into a vegetable, whats the reasonable dollar limit you should be allowed to recover? Should physicians simply be immune from personal responsibility altogether?”
How about “It depends.”
My dad had a doctor working on his neck when the drill wandered off and penetrated the jugular vein. He nearly bled out, and was somewhat impaired mentally for years afterwards. The doctor explained what had happened, how it happened, and what he’d done about it to my dad and step-mom, and provided them copies of all the documentation. Dad declined to sue, knowing that stuff happens.
fast forward nearly a decade, and my dad has another heart attack (something like his sixteenth); a different surgeon did a quadruple bypass on him, which was IIRC, his third or fourth bypass, and suddenly, my dad is no longer easily confused, no longer tells the same stories three or four times in the same phone call, etc. Back to the man he was before the drill wandered off and nearly bled him out.
Whose fault was it?
Obvious gross negligence, I could see cleaning the guy out. This was not negligence at all, however, and the guy was very up-front and straight-forward about what happened. I (and my dad) have had tools that didn’t work properly, or follow the path they were supposed to follow, more than once.
I’m going in for my second hip surgery this year next week. Total hip replacement, this time, as the arthroscopic repairs I had done in January didn’t last very long. I did get great relief for the first few months, but the pain came back: now we’re going the bionic route. Same doctor, btw. He told me up front that what we did first doesn’t always work, and sometimes requires a hip-replacement within six months. We hoped for the best, and are dealing with the reality. I’m young for a hip replacement, but I didn’t expect to make it this long, or I’d have taken better care of myself when I was younger.
Could I sue him because it didn’t work the first time? Probably, and I could possibly even win. Was he negligent? Not so far as I can tell, and I’ve spent far too much of my time around doctors in the past few decades.
I can think of a way to quantify what a doc should pay when he IS negligent, though. Average remaining life-span times average earning potential of the victim, plus legal costs. A guy who was a Walmart greeter in his 70’s wouldn’t get as much as a Straight-A 7th grader, but more than a 90-year-old in a nursing home. Does that cover all the bases? No, probably not, but it gives us a base to start from, I think.
I’m not advocating for filing suit every time there’s a negative outcome—and most often people don’t. The whole “screws the pooch” phrase was meant to assume malpractice for the purposes of my question. In retrospect, I should have said as much. Apologies if I was unclear.
In your father’s example, going on the information presented, I’d have to doubt that the drill incident was the cause of your father’s confusion; most likely it was an early symptom of the disease process that caused his eventual need for the bypass. Hard to say at the time though; however, if the bleed had caused brain damage (which it apparently did not, under the facts as presented), that would have been ascertainable via testing, which it seems nobody was concerned enough to do and which in hindsight we know would have shown no injury. Given the apparent lack of causation, what would your father have sued for? No ascertainable damages or no causation = nobody’s taking your case.
With regard to your hip, I doubt you would have been able to sue successfully. The doctor indicated the possibility of failure, you gave informed consent, and shit happened. Again, more facts would be needed to be sure. My father and a neighbor both faced the same hip situation, BTW, so you have my sympathies. It’s a bitch to repeat.
As for your proposed measure of damages, you might enjoy chatting with a few medical malpractice attorneys. Loss of future earnings is a major element of damages analysis, generally discounted to present value. But the cost of ongoing medical care for people not killed can be staggering, particularly for the young. And that’s in addition to lost earnings. He’s not the best example, given some of the advanced treatments he tried, but look at the costs of Christopher Reeve’s paralysis for a relatively brief period.
Both sides make all kinds of claims in the debate, but I think the tort reform crowd goes too far. There’s too much blanket demonization of the legal profession, and too little regard for the victims of malpractice. At the end of the day we have a jury system to decide the hard questions and set the numbers of a given case. It’s far from perfect, but it beats the hell out of the government telling you what your spine or your daughter’s brain was worth, which is what tort reform amounts to. Well that’s my $.02 anyway (which will sadly be worth far less by tomorrow, thanks to 0bama).