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Honolulu, Hawaii

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Wayne Parsons
Wayne Parsons
Attorney • (808) 845-2211

Medical Malpractice Legislation In Hawaii – Have the Democrats Finally Abandoned The Public?

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Jim Krueger, a great Maui attorney and a life long champion for the little guy, has exposed some shameful legislative manipulation by a few doctors in conspiracy with a few Democratic legislators who have abandoned the basic tenets of the Democratic Party.

Jim knows. He sees that almost no claims are brought against Hawaii doctors. He knows that Hawaii is in the top 10 among the states in doctors per capita: 311 doctors per capita in 2006 over 100 more than Texas. He knows that doctors are not leaving Hawaii because of medical malpractice lawsuits. And he knows that a few doctors are causing many serious injuries through negligence.

Jim knows because he has been in the trenches for 30 years, representing Hawaii people who have been injured or have died as a result of a mistake made by a doctor. Jim knows that before he can even sue a doctor that he must file a doctor’s certificate of consultation that a doctor in the same specialty has determined that the claim has merit (Hawaii Revised Statutes Section 671-12.5). Lawyers do not decide if a case can be filed, they must have an opinion from a licensed doctor that the case is malpractice.

You expect many Republicans to side with the rich and powerful because they make no bones about their concept that if you take of the rich, the poor will be better for it. But not democrats, the party of the people and labor and individual rights. Apparently with the blessing of the leadership in the democratic party, names like Calvin Say and Jon Riki Karamatsu are seen supporting this anti-consumer legislation. What have Hawaii democrats come to when they abandon the consumer?

The Obama landslide across the country, and in Hawaii, is a reaction to the problems with health care, greedy and dishonest insurance companies like AIG and the disaster on Wall Street. During the Bush administration the rights of the individual were set back 50 years, the FDA was asleep at the wheel on protecting the public from food and drugs that do harm and insurance companies ran amok in making huge profits and denying claims.While the Congress is in the process of reversing the excesses of powerful insurance companies and the privileged class, our Hawaii Democratic legislature is considering doing just the opposite. They are conspiring with the insurance industry and the powerful doctors lobby to strip consumer rights and prevent claims against negligent doctors who hurt people. Big money arrived in Hawaii to support this power grab. Perhaps the Democratic legislators who have abandoned their roots have been swayed by the powerful outside interests.

I am posting Krueger’s astute and eloquent plea in toto from the Op-Ed piece Monday in the Maui News because it should be read by all Hawaii voters. I thank the Maui News for publishing it and getting the truth out. Here is the story:

VIEWPOINT: Doctors should not receive special breaks

By JAMES KRUEGER

The statue of justice is a blindfolded woman holding the scales of justice. Justice is supposed to be blind so that everyone is treated the same – the scales must be equal, not tilted to favor any side. No special breaks for anyone.

Lawmakers should consider this as doctors ask for special breaks for errors they make that harm their patients.

I have represented many doctors on other matters. Most doctors do not make critical errors that cause a patient to die or become crippled for life. But some doctors, like some lawyers, engineers, accountants and others, can and do make errors. And with physicians, those errors can be life altering or life ending.

Most doctors I know want to be responsible for making good any harm they create. I have seen doctors tell their malpractice insurer to pay claims when they had made mistakes. These doctors deserve your respect. But we cannot respect those, in whatever profession they are engaged, who try to hide from their errors, bury their dead and evade responsibility when they negligently cause serious physical or economic harm to others in our community.

The fact is medical malpractice impacts a small group of people who are killed and seriously maimed or disfigured by inadequate medical care. This group could be anyone – a neighbor, a co-worker, a family member or you.

They ought to have the same rights for injury suffered from a doctor’s neglect as would someone who was rear-ended by another driver’s neglect for the same injury. A baby is just as dead when suffocated by a cord wrapped around its neck which had been ignored by the obstetrician as the baby who dies after eating tainted baby food from a company who knew it was unsafe but still sold it.

There is no moral or legal justification to treat people poorly just because they were injured or killed by a doctor. The good judgment of a judge or jury in accordance with standard legal principles should apply to all of us.

We all must be held accountable. The Legislature should not give special breaks to one group to avoid responsibility for the harm it creates while others in the community remain fully responsible. No person is above the law. There must be equal justice for all as symbolized by lady justice. The Legislature should make sure those concepts remain true.

* James Krueger is a Maui attorney.

I thank Jim for his eloquence and we should all appreciate him standing up to the anti-consumer and legislators who have voted to move these unfair bills into law. Do voters support this legislation? Of course not. Tell me what you think and tell your legislators what you think.