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Christopher Sanders Died From Medical Malpractice – His Mom Laurie Asks Doctors to Be Accountable


In an op-ed in the Charlotte (NC) Observer (10/1), Laurie Sanders, who settled a medical negligence case arising from the death of her son, Christopher, wrote:

"Lobbyists for the medical and insurance industries tout ‘malpractice reform’ as an essential part of a health care bill," but "the reforms they seek would prevent injured patients and their families from discovering the truth and seeking redress in the courts."

Sanders comments:

"One of the lessons of Christopher’s unnecessary death – and my necessary lawsuit – is not that health care providers need to engage in cost-inflating ‘defensive medicine.’ Instead, it is that doctors and nurses must pay attention, communicate with their colleagues and adhere to well-recognized standards of practice."

AAJ Report Debunks Defensive Medicine Myth - By Cecelia Prewett, September 30, 2009 3:05 PM.

Fact is however, that a 2008 report released by the Congressional Budget Office (CBO) notes that the evidence of “defensive medicine” “is not conclusive, and whether limits on malpractice torts have an impact on the practice of medicine has been subject to some debate.” And the Government Accountability Office (GAO) found that even “officials from AMA [American Medical Association] and several medical, hospital and nursing home associations…[said] that defensive medicine exists to some degree, but that it is difficult to measure.”

According to the Institute of Medicine, as many as 98,000 Americans die each year as a result of medical errors. The costs associated with these errors are thought to be as high as $29 billion annually. This does not include the number of patients, or associated costs, of those severely injured by preventable medical errors, but survive the trauma. Clouding the health care debate with myths and distortions, particularly about a malpractice system that makes up 0.3% of overall costs will do nothing to repair our nation’s ailing system.

I have written on this subject many times before: Tort Reform Has No Place In Health Care Reform, Posted by Wayne Parsons September 17, 2009 2:53 PM

Laurie Sanders speaks to all of the Senators and to the President when she concludes:

"To improve patient safety, doctors and hospitals must be accountable for their negligence. Enacting legislation that erodes patients’ access to the courts will diminish the quality of care without reducing medical costs."

See the full AAJ Report with substantiated facts: “The Truth About ‘Defensive Medicine,’”

The public deserves all the Senators including ours here in Hawaii, Senator Inouye and Senator Akaka to fight for medical profession accountability for the 98,000 deaths each year from avoidable medical errors. President Obama should keep his promise to America and enact reform of the health insurance industry, not send Sen. Baucus to make back room deals that put a lie to one of the Presidents strongest campaign issues: taking on the insurance industry.


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  1. Steve Lombardi says:
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    I just added this to Dave Mittleman’s post on this same subject.

    I’m of the opinion there is no such thing as defensive medicine. The idea is preposterous. It’s only a naive public willing to buy this argument; along with politicians wanting campaign contributions. The political process has been corrupted by greed. To admit to defensive medicine means you admit to committing criminal fraud; and they aren’t willing to admit to criminal activity on a massive scale as they allege. No instead like the “frivolous lawsuit”, “defensive medicine” is a tag-line the ad execs came up with to create an illusion of a problem that if the public bites will increase profit margins. Think I’m crazy? You don’t have to believe me. Here read the quote in this post. “Apology Shield, Still not asking the right question.” See if it helps further to explain the real problem, assuming there is one.


    “The public is informed that lawyers, laws and law suits are the cause of physicians not being able to reform the error prone systems that exist in some places in America’s hospital systems. In fact the opposite is probably truer. Read the conclusion from the research group from the Departments of Medicine at the University Of Washington School Of Medicine, the Washington University School of Medicine, Waterman Research Solutions, BJC HealthCare, the The University of Toronto Department of Medicine and The University of Toronto.

    “In conclusion, the medical profession should consider whether the culture of medicine itself represents a more important barrier than the malpractice environment to the disclosure of harmful medical errors to patients. Patients justifiably expect that harmful medical errors will be disclosed to them. Increasing physician engagement in efforts to communicate openly with patients following errors and to enhance patient safety could provide a much-needed boost to patients’ confidence in the quality and integrity of the health care system.”

    The medical profession itself points out the greatest hindrance to a better system is within its control. Change the culture and you’ll change the number of injured patients.”

    It’s not all doctors that are jumping on the defensive medicine (the sky is falling) band wagon. No sirree. It’s a few that practice bad medicine and want no responsibility for their mistakes and to increase profits. We can’t blame them all for the few bad apples. Instead we need to change the culture that allows bad medicine to go uninvestigated. Change that and you’ll change medicine for the better.

  2. Mike Bryant says:
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    Accountability is the key, they don’t want it and the consumer has to have it. Interesting to see how Steve has come over from much “nicer” comments about defensive medicine. It is a crazy idea, and as of yet I still haven’t seen the list of all of the things they shouldn’t have done.