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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
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Mistakes Made in Medical Care are the Top Cause of Accidental Death in America.


Let me start with the facts.

98,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors each year!

99,000 Americans die from preventable hospital acquired infections each year!

The cat is out of the bag. Its all over the news. How many of you have read or heard about the massive expose of the death toll from careless doctors and poorly run hospitals in DEAD BY MISTAKE? As reported in Hearst Newspapers across the country the story starts with Richard Flagg:

Richard Flagg drowned in his own blood.

Stanley Stinnett choked on his own vomit.

Both were victims of the leading cause of accidental death in America — mistakes made in medical care.

Experts estimate that a staggering 98,000 people die from preventable medical errors each year. More Americans die each month of preventable medical injuries than died in the terrorist attacks of Sept. 11, 2001.

In addition, a federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention study concluded that 99,000 patients a year succumb to hospital-acquired infections. Almost all of those deaths, experts say, also are preventable.

My friend Moon Saito died in Honolulu a few weeks ago during this beautiful Hawaiian summer. Moon was a member of the famed 442nd Infantry _ the Go For Broke Japanese Americans _ who proved their patriotism in WW II. For those who knew Moon Saito they saw a hero and ultimate bravery and sacrifice in a humble and gracious and loving man.

Moon didn’t die from a medical error but I thought of Moon Saito when I read about Richard Flagg. I felt a mix of emotions, first sadness and then anger. Moon Saito never met Richard Flagg but I think they would have been friends. They were both fighters. Both warriors. Both hero’s. Both good men.

I write in honor of Richard Flagg. After fighting for us and for the United States of America in Viet Nam, Richard came home to fight for his life in a health care system where doctors and hospitals spend too much time trying to escape responsibility for injury and killing people and too little time on patient care. JoAnne Doroshow of The Center For Justice & Democracy helped get Richard Flagg’s sad story out into the public eye. Here is what Richard Flagg said at the Forum on Malpractice: Hearing Hosted by U.S. Representative John Conyers, 108th Cong. 69-72 (Feb. 11, 2003):

Thank you for allowing this forum, and thank you to Public Citizen and the Center for Justice & Democracy for caring. My name is Richard Flagg, and I’m 62 years old. I reside in Jersey City, New Jersey. I’m a veteran from Vietnam, a father, and a victim of malpractice.

In September 2000, I was admitted to the hospital in New Jersey to have a simple, small tumor from my left lung. At the time it was considered to be optional surgery, and the only reason I was there was because I was having bleeding problems if I ever had a lung infection. So I went in with that thought in mind, and the doctors paid no attention to protocol. The hospital paid no attention to protocol. They wheeled me into the operating room without asking why I was there, what I was going to be operated on for, and as a consequence, the tumor that was in my left lung is still in my left lung, and three quarters of my right lung is gone, the healthy lung. I’m now confined 24 hours a day, seven days a week to an oxygen hose.

Two years ago I was a barge captain in the United States Merchant Marines. I could walk at a fast pace from bow to stern of a 300-foot ship in a very short time. I was strong. I was in good shape. Today I’m a physical wreck. I’m an emotional wreck. All of this was done to me, but is that why we’re here? That’s part of it. The biggest part of it is what’s happening today.

The tail is definitely wagging the dog. The insurance companies are being allowed to put out misinformation, to talk about things that aren’t true. They’re allowed to overcharge. Now, I’m somewhat of an amateur historian, and I do have a degree in history, as well as one in biology and a minor in chemistry, and it seems to me that back in 1789 when the Constitution of the United States was written our forefathers had in mind one thing. Justice in this country was to be decided by a jury of our peers. This is not true today. It is in criminal cases. It is in murders. It is in robberies. It isn’t in medical malpractice.

If Mr. Bush has his way and the states that already have these caps on certain parts of tort reform, this is what we can look forward to getting worse and worse. I made a quote on a forum on a Web site last week in New Jersey. Someone asked me how do you feel about what’s happening with tort reform. I answered it very simply. Once you start taking a person’s individual rights and freedoms of our American citizens away, where does it stop? It doesn’t, and I referenced Adolf Hitler, Idi Amin, Saddam Hussein, and so forth down the line. I received 125 answers, all of them saying thank you; we didn’t know.

There is our problem today. It’s mostly misinformation or lack of information. I would like to see people in this room, each one become ambassadors to this. Talk as hard and as long as you can to stop what’s happened. That’s what we need more than anything else. Thank you very much.

Ask the insurance companies, the U.S. Chamber of Commerce, Lou Dobbs, the AMA and your own doctors and hospitals why they don’t work on solving this death and injury problem and stop trying to get gullible politicians to make them exempt for accountability or responsibility for their wrongs! I get so mad when I hear them shout about lawsuit abuse when the real problem is that they are killing people! Read my article on the history of this attempt by the rich and powerful medical profession and the corrupt insurance industry to escape accountability and tell me what you think.

The History Of Tort Reform – A Story of Corporate Greed And A Conspiracy Against Justice For The People

There are less than 50 medical malpractice claims in Hawaii. Doctors and insurance companies have made bringing a valid claim almost impossible and so expensive that almost no lawyers do medical malpractice cases anymore. Meanwhile patients are injured and dying every day.

Why does Richard Flagg have to fight for his life at home against insurance companies and politicians who put profits before people? Just in case you think the word "justice" is a platitude, think about Richard Flagg. When someone talks to you about lawsuit abuse or tort reform, think about the indignity and abuse that Richard Flagg endured at the hands of the medical profession. Don’t let this happen to anyone else.


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  1. Mark Bello says:
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    Wayne: My sympathies on the death of your friend, Mr. Saito, and thank you for sharing Mr. Flagg’s Forum testimony (Rep Conyers, by the way, is a senior congressman from my great state of Michigan, and a strong supported of pro-justice issues). Recently, I wrote about the unfairness and potential unconstitutionality of the $250,000 med mal cap in California. The post prompted several comments from “the other side of the aisle” on this issue. Please review the post and the comments and, then, please email Mr. Flagg’s testimony and story to “Ike” and “Jim”, the gentlemen who support caps. I don’t think we will change their minds, but, maybe, they will gain more insight about what you and I fight for, so passionately. Wayne, my friend: The more we write and expose myths and lies in this forum and others, the more people will read and understand the truth. Thank you, thank you, THANK YOU, for a heart-wrenching piece that exposes the harshness of life after malpractice and the inequity of a system broken by tort reform. Keep up the good work. Regards, Mark

  2. Joe robinson says:
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    There are many doctors practicing right now that have not been caught. There are many cover-ups for malpractice where patients are getting hurt and killed. If a doctor honestly finds that a patient has been medically abused or killed, the doctor must lie. The doctor must lie on the medical records, or faced some serious consequences from other doctors and the Medical Boards. I swear by this, because this is what is happening to me right now.

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    Thanks for the Comments Mark and Joe. Joe, what is happening with you?