Tuesday, February 17, 2009

Everything's Bigger In Texas....Except Justice

How would you like to lose both of your arms AND legs due to a preventable medical error? True story, and it happened to a 53 year old Texas man in 2003. He brought a lawsuit against the infectious disease doctor who apparently didn't diagnose the man's MRSA (methicillin resistant Staphylococcus aureus) hospital acquired infection until it was too late.

A Texas jury found the doctor negligent and returned a verdict for $17.5 million, according to this recent article. However, under Texas medical "reform" laws that arbitrarily cap or limit what injured patients can recover in lawsuits, the judge was required to chop the verdict to $7.5 million--a $10 million discount. This raises some legitimate questions: Should someone get a $10 million discount for being in the wrong? Should anyone get such a discount when a jury made a community decision and set the value being a prisoner in your own body at $17.5 million--or $12.4 or $9.3 million or whatever that figure is?

I'm sure the doctor's malpractice insurance company is very pleased with this law and this result. If this happened in Ohio, our own legislative "caps" would have reduced this man's recovery to his medical bills, lost wages, the future costs needed to take care of him, and a whopping $500,000 for having his quality of life absolutely gutted. And "reforms" such as lawsuit caps were all passed in the name of keeping health care costs down, which, by the way, are skyrocketing.

So let's recap. Lose all your limbs, wait 4 years to get your day in court, prove your case and win...and then get over $50% of it taken away. And put right back into an insurance company's pocket. Reminds me of a quote from a Charleston woman when she learned that South Carolina had voted to secede from the Union shortly before the Civil War: "Pardon me, but is a majority always drunk?"

1 comment:

marni said...

That is an amazing story