Thursday, September 3, 2015

Shh! Don't talk of how docs, hospitals mess up

N.Y. lawyers argue for easing legislation and regulations that stifle malpractice suits

Malpractice suits are something hospital execs and physicians prefer no one talk about, especially in public.

But two attorneys took to the op-ed page of The New York Times this week to argue for a change in New York state law to lengthen the time in which lawsuits can be filed.

Thomas Moore
The pair, partner Thomas Moore and associate Steve Cohen of the firm Kramer, Dillof, Livingston and Moore, also maintained that "as long as hospitals and doctors block legislation and fight regulation, patients will remain in peril."

Their jumping off point, according to their opinion piece, was a futile legislative attempt to update a state law that allows victims only two and a half years "from the time of the medical mistake in which to bring an action, not from the time the error was discovered or should have been discovered" — the latter being the standard in 44 of the nation's 50 states.

The lawyers also asserted that "hospitals are dangerous places," noting that in 1999 "the Institute of Medicine at the National Academy of Sciences published a study…which concluded that at least 44,000 patients were killed (and many more injured) in hospitals each year because of medical errors. By 2011, a study in the journal HealthAffairs estimated that the number of avoidable deaths was probably 10 times higher."

The attorneys, whose agenda clearly would line their own pockets, went on to claim that "doctors and hospitals are doing a poor job of policing themselves, yet they have been successful at keeping anyone else from doing it."

As might be expected, opposition to extending the statute of limitations came from the hospital and health care lobby, whose agenda is equally one-sided.

The KDL&M website cites the firm's success "in medical malpractice cases, labor law and negligence cases," and notes that it's won "more than 120 verdicts of over $1 million" and "negotiated settlements on behalf of their clients in excess of $1 billion."

I, Woody Weingarten, discuss medical silences and malpractice possibilities in "Rollercoaster: How a man can survive his partner's breast cancer," a VitalityPress book particularly aimed at male caregivers.

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