THE ANATOMY OF AMERICAN MAL-PRACTICE
It seems difficult to believe that a group of professionals, such as well trained attorneys, can be so cruel and indifferent to the consequences of their efforts to earn vast sums of money, that they create an environment where innocent children are exposed to excessive radiation, and a large percentage eventually die from cancer.
And, yet, that is exactly what is happening in America now.
Here is an excerpt from the New York Times:
Hazards: For Children in E.R., a Big Increase in CT Scans
By Roni Caryn Rabin
April 7, 2011 – “The number of computed tomography scans performed on children visiting hospital emergency rooms has increased fivefold in recent years, to 1.65 million in 2008 from 330,000 in 1995, a new study has found.
The analysis, published online on Tuesday in the journal Radiology, found that CT scans were performed in almost 6 percent of all children’s emergency department visits in 2008, compared with about 1 percent in 1995. Scans were most commonly done on children arriving with head injuries, headaches or abdominal pain.
The sharp increase in the use of CT scans did not surprise the authors of the report, who said advances in the technology had resulted in improved image quality that can greatly aid diagnosis of childhood ailments.
But the scans expose patients to high levels of ionizing radiation that can cause cancer in later years, and radiation is even more harmful for children than for adults.”
I do not work in Emergency Rooms anymore, but I have many friends who do. When I asked them about the use of CT Scans, here is what they say: “We CT everything! That’s the only way to avoid a lawsuit! The lawyers look in the charts for evidence that a CT was skipped, and if it was, due to the child’s age, they start the lawsuit.”
In other words, if the doctor decided not to order a CT Scan because he didn’t want to expose the child to excess radiation, and he missed a medical problem, he would be instantly sued.
Of course, if the possible danger is great, the doctor will order the CT scan, in spite of the danger of radiation.
But most lawsuits have nothing to do with serious bad results. Most lawsuits, in America, have to do with “Pain and Suffering.” These lawsuits are frivolous in nature, based on misdiagnoses that result in “Pain and Suffering.”
WHAT IS “PAIN AND SUFFERING?”
“Pain and Suffering” is a legal term concocted by American “Trial Lawyers.”
Here is a definition from Wikipedia:
“When filing a lawsuit as a result of an injury, it is common for someone to seek money both in compensation for actual money that is lost and for the pain and stress associated with virtually any injury.
In a suit, pain and suffering is part of the “general damages” section of the plaintiff’s claim, or, alternatively, it is an element of “compensatory” non economic damages that allows recovery for the mental anguish and/or physical pain endured by the plaintiff as a result of injury for which the plaintiff seeks redress.”
Only God knows who has “mental anguish” and/or “physical pain.”
However, Trial Lawyers have an inside wire to God and they advise the Jury on how much “Pain and Suffering” the child, the child’s parents and relatives and the child’s future children have suffered and will suffer.
The awards given to “Plaintiffs” for “Pain and Suffering” stagger the imagination. And, of course, almost half of that award goes to the Trial Lawyer. In an effort to stave off the complete collapse of the medical system, several states have put CAPS on how much can be awarded for Pain and Suffering.
Awards for Pain and Suffering start in the high thousands and go into millions. These awards and all the other awards and machinery costs (CT Scanners, MRI Scanners, X Rays, Labs, etc.) and a myriad of other costs makes American Medicine the most costly medicine on this small planet called Earth.
U.S. HEALTH CARE COSTS
Health care costs have been rising for several years. Expenditures in the United States on health care surpassed $2.3 trillion in 2008, more than three times the $714 billion spent in 1990, and over eight times the $253 billion spent in 1980.
American Health Care is the costliest in the world and produces mediocre results. The U.S. ranks 37th in terms of the quality of its health care. A major part of its high cost and poor results is the ability of anyone to sue anybody about anything.
WHY CAN AMERICANS SUE DOCTORS SO EASILY?
Americans sue anybody for anything! The reason? IT IS FREE!
The American Trial Lawyers provide the first half of all costs; but, as compensation, they then take half of any winnings. It is a super combination that makes Trial Lawyers and Plaintiffs happy; and, it jacks up the cost of American health care to astronomical numbers.
The American citizen looks at lawsuits like a form of lottery. The price is a dollar for gas to drive to the lawyer and then that citizen might win millions!
It is the only place in the civilized world where this strange practice is permitted in such quantity, but the practice, like a cancer, is beginning to spread.
If the team of plaintiff and trial lawyer are defeated, the defendant (doctor, hospital, etc.) cannot sue the trial lawyer for their costs! The plaintiff is almost invariably poor, so suing the plaintiff is a waste of money.
Result: Trial lawyers and plaintiffs are in no danger. They can sue anybody for anything an infinite number of times.
THE “CONTINGENCY FEE”
The American lawyers pay Congress billions of dollars to keep the laws governing lawsuits unchanged–so that they can collect billions for “Pain and Suffering” and they can continue to use the “Contingency Fee” system of law.
The “Contingency Fee” legal system is primarily used in the USA.
Unfortunately, other countries are being pressured to move in this direction, since the legal profession knows that the “Contingency Fee” method of payment for legal services results in a bonanza for those lawyers who specialize in personal injury cases.
The “Contingency Fee” is simple to understand.
The lawyers fee is dependent (contingent) on the award given by the judge or jury. The usual percentage is 33 (1/3) percent of the award. If the trial goes to a jury and the lawyer must prove his case to the jury, the percentage jumps to 40 or 45 percent of the award.
All expenses are borne by the client. If they are included in the award, that increases the attorney’s winnings.
In almost all other countries, the citizen who wishes to take legal action against another person or legal entity, such as a corporation or insurance company, must pay his attorney for all the attorney’s legal fees.
This method almost totally eliminates the frivolous law suit. A plaintiff will not start a law suit if he is not certain that he has a very good chance of winning. The rationale for the “Contingency Fee” hangs its reasoning on the “Poor Plaintiff” argument.
The argument is this: The plaintiff is poor. He has been damaged by another party. However, he does not have the money to pay for a lawyer. Let us allow the lawyer to gamble on his case, put up all the costs and then, if the lawyer wins, take part of the award. Of course, if the lawyer loses, the defendant cannot sue the lawyer, because he was only an instrument of the plaintiff.
It sounds very rational and good for the poor people of society.
WHAT REALLY HAPPENS
I have seen hundreds of these lawsuits. Fortunately, because I am super cautious, I have never been sued.
What I have seen is the most disgusting behavior of humans. Where greed and immorality are the two prime motivators, and where almost all of the actors are wounded and crippled for life.
The ones that “win” are the Trial Lawyers, and they have to end their lives in shame and frightened by the thought of having to go to those doctors whom they have vilified for decades, but to whom they must turn for help, as they get old and sick or when they or their family are sick and in need of medical care.
The scene is very ugly, but it is true. I have watched it play out over and over, like a horrid war movie.
THE SCENE AS THE TRIAL LAWYERS PRESENT IT
A financially poor patient, struggling to survive, develops a dangerous illness and goes to a very rich doctor who is arrogant, cruel and careless. The poor patient asks for medical help from the rich doctor.
The doctor agrees to help, but is so careless, negligent and indifferent that he makes a gross error of medicine and does irreparable harm to the poor patient. The poor patient has to endure pain and suffering and also loses all sources of income, becomes destitute and despondent and depressed and seeks out the help of a beneficent attorney in order to survive.
The attorney takes on the poor patient’s case free of charge, with just a contingency fee involved, does endless research and proves to an honest and careful jury that the rich doctor caused the poor patient’s pain, suffering, depression, loss of income and perhaps, loss of health.
The jury is asked to give the poor patient some compensation from the rich doctor’s insurance coverage and also to punish the rich doctor for his arrogance and negligence. The jury does so and justice is served.
WHAT NORMALLY HAPPENS
An act of medical negligence does occur, or may have occurred and the patient, generally poor and generally from a minority group, is injured or thinks he is injured and remembers all the TV advertisements of a lawyer who promises to make his clients rich, with absolutely no money down.
The TV advertisements and the advertisements on bill boards, newspapers and telephone books all state the same thing: “If I don’t make you rich, you don’t pay a penny! I haven’t lost a case in twentyÂ years!”
In these advertisements we see pictures of the Lawyer. He is young and handsome and looks friendly and intelligent. On TV he speaks well and gives a clear invitation to come and talk to him personally about your injury.
Here is a typical blurb from a lawyer’s bill board: “Personal Injury? No one cares? We care!” With a picture of the smiling and handsome lawyer.
THE REALITY: SUING DOCTORS IS VERY BIG BUSINESS
Putting the Handsome Lawyer’s pictures on billboards all over a large city and paying for thousand of television advertisements costs tens of million of dollars.
Handling thousands of prospective plaintiff’s complaints, most of which are worthless, requires hundreds of people. It also requires dozens of lawyers and dozens of paralegals and other support staff.
At the end, the profits are also in the millions.
THE LEGAL TEAM
The handsome lawyer is just one of a large group of lawyers. He is part of an immense legal team set up to do business in a large city where thousands of people come weekly to present their claims. The owners and controllers of this business are old and hardened lawyers who have been practicing this type of legal robbery for decades.
The handsome lawyer, who generally has a non-ethnic “American” name such as Smith or Jones, is one of their workers. He will definitely not have a Jewish or Indian name. The public only wants to sue doctors using an “American” lawyer.
The Handsome Lawyer sees a few clients, but spends most of his time advertising the firm. The other lawyers work in small cubicles surrounded by law books. They in turn are surrounded by dozens of technical assistants, called “Para-Legal’s.”
The “Paralegals” do all the detail work.
RESEARCHING THE “PATIENT”
The Paralegals research the prospective clients for their personal history. Have they filed claims in the past? Are they part of that group that lives off law suits? Do they throw water on the floor in bathrooms of stores and then sit down in the water and scream that they fell because someone did not clean the floor? Have they filed numerous medical law suits in the past, going from one doctor to another with a chronic pain problem? And then claiming an injury because they suddenly have more pain than before?
All this research is important, because they know that the doctor’s lawyer, provided by his malpractice insurance company, is also going to research the patient. If the patient is a “chronic patient” who has been through numerous law suits, the doctor’s lawyer will bring that evidence out during the trial and the case may easily be lost.
RESEARCHING THE “DOCTOR”
Has the doctor involved committed “malpractice” in the past? If he has, that must be brought out in the trial. If he has not, maybe the patient is lying. What kind of malpractice insurance does the doctor have? Does he have enough coverage in money to pay the plaintiff’s group for their work? If not, does he have enough personal assets that may be attached to cover the investment? If he has no insurance and no personal assets, if he is just a poor old doctor, he is not worth suing, no matter what he did.
The plaintiff’s legal team is not in business to find justice, it is in business to make money. Are the doctor’s lawyers from a legal team that rarely loses? If they are, that means extensive research and everything has to go well or the investment in the case may be lost.
WAS MALPRACTICE REALLY COMMITTED?
Before a lawsuit can be started, the legal team must prepare their attack. Many patients or relatives of patients believe that their doctor has committed malpractice because their pain did not go away or they were not cured or they died. However, over the last century and with millions of law suits, these complaints have been investigated thoroughly.
Many diseases are incurable and produce chronic pain. Many diseases result in inevitable death. Before a law suit can be started and a large financial investment made, in terms of salaries and legal fees, the question of true malpractice must be made.
A research of previous cases brought to law may demonstrate, over and over, that the pain could not be prevented, nor the death prevented. The paralegals go through the books, now computerized, and find these cases. The lawyers then decide if they have a good probability of winning. They know that the opposing lawyers are doing the same research.
During the trial, such research will be brought forward, and the Judge may throw out the complaint before it ever sees a jury. That would be a large financial loss for the Handsome Lawyer’s firm.
No lawyer is going to waste his money suing a doctor if the injured patient suffered no “damages.”
“Damages” is a legal term which means a loss in terms of money. Damages could be a loss in potential earnings, for example, after a doctor performed surgery the patient could no longer work. It could be the cost of additional medical services, the loss of a business, etc.
Most often, it is in that indefinable area of “Pain and Suffering.” If a plastic surgeon produces an “ugly” scar, the patient might have “painful thoughts” and “suffer anguish” over the new appearance. This area of damages has been so abused, that many states have enacted laws that limit the costs of “Pain and Suffering.”
PROOF OF DAMAGES
The plaintiff’s attorneys must prove their damages to the judge or jury. It is in this area that the patient pays the highest price for suing the doctor.
If a patient is having pain, he must prove it to the jury. How do you prove you are having pain? By taking “Pain Pills!” A law suit takes three to six years. Once a patient declares he has chronic pain, he must seek pain medicine for three to six years to prove that he has pain. Otherwise, he has no damages.
The patient goes from doctor to doctor complaining of pain. From experienced doctors, he is rejected. Once a doctor prescribed pain medicine to a patient involved in a lawsuit, he would be called to court to testify as to why he prescribed the pain medicine. This is a lost day in terms of income.
All experienced doctors send these patients to “Pain Specialists” a new breed of doctor who came into being with the wave of malpractice litigation. In addition, an experienced doctor knows when he is dealing with an addicted patient. This understanding happens in milli-seconds.
However, the patient eventually finds an inexperienced doctor or continues in a “Pain Clinic.” Within a year he is an addict. I have seen this happen hundreds of times.
Becoming an addict of pain medicine is a minor result of a law suit. The Plaintiff’s attorneys generally require repeat surgery to prove the damages. Many juries are skeptical about pain if the patient is only taking pain medicine. These juries know that many Americans are addicted to pain medicine. But, if a patient is willing to go to surgery for a pain problem, that patient must be sincere.
The plaintiff’s attorneys know this trick very well. They have a roster of surgeons who will perform any surgery they desire. They also have a roster of medical specialists who will testify on their behalf for any event in medicine. These specialists are paid enormous fees. The fees are paid for “consultations” and for “assisting in the preparation of briefs.” But, in reality, the fees are paid for falsifying evidence so that a judge or jury will decide in favor of the plaintiff.
The plaintiff who goes for surgery or repeat surgery generally comes out crippled. This is exactly what the plaintiff’s attorney wants. The plaintiff’s attorney wants to wheel the plaintiff into the courtroom in a wheel chair and say: “See! this is what this doctor has done!”
REACTION OF THE MEDICAL PROFESSION
The American medical profession, consisting of doctors, nurses, technicians, administrators and clerks are all petrified in fear about being involved in medical malpractice law suits.
Everything is done to prevent malpractice. This is called “Defensive Medicine.”
Doctors order hundreds of unnecessary tests and perform unnecessary radiological and imaging examinations. They consult specialists at every corner of the case.
The ancillary staff of nurses and technicians has become huge in order to make sure every order has been done correctly and recorded dozens of times. The corridors of hospitals are crowded with technicians staring at computer screens and writing messages to each other.
Result: The cost of medical care in the U.S. is the highest in the world, and the U.S. ranks 37th in the world in terms of quality of its health care.
The medical malpractice industry and the resultant defensive medicine is the major reason why the American medical system is so expensive.
The Trial lawyers spend billions to lobby the U.S. Congress to permit them to sue the medical system indiscriminately. As we have seen, this results in poor medicine and millions of addicted patients and unnecessary tests and unnecessary surgeries.
Unfortunately, the American public loves lotteries. They do not want their love affair with law suits to end. They will pay the price until their money runs out.