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September 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Slideshow Of The Decade: Allstate's BluePrint For Fraud

Category: The Latest Baddest

Allstate Insurance Co. has a split personality. Its TV/advertising personality is the Good Hands People. Its internal, claims-processing personality is similar to Mike Tyson's.

Fayette case puts Allstate tactics to test

In lawsuits in New Orleans and across the country, Allstate Insurance Co. has been accused of using its financial might to drag out claims and coerce injury victims and property owners into accepting low-ball settlement offers for their insurance claims.

Secret documents that trial lawyers say show the motive behind Allstate's tactics have drawn increased national scrutiny, most recently from PBS's NOW, a TV news magazine.

Barring a last-minute settlement, Allstate's claims-handling will be put to the test in a civil trial set to start Monday in Fayette Circuit Court for a $1.425 billion lawsuit filed by Geneva Hager of Richmond.

The trial appears to be only the third time internal company documents that Allstate has fought to keep secret will be shown to the public.

The most famous document, which became the title of a book, plays off the company's slogan. It states that claimants who accept Allstate's offers are in "good hands" while those who object get the "boxing gloves." Trial lawyers call the McKinsey documents a blueprint for fraud.

The documents are actually 12,500 pages of PowerPoint slides developed by McKinsey & Co., which Allstate hired in 1992 to redesign the way it handles claims.

From Kentucky.com.

As a greedy trial lawyer who has gone more than a few rounds with Allstate, I would be willing to sit through all 12,500 slides to see the origin of the Allstate strategy to screw claimants. I probably could create dozens of slides from my experiences - for example: "I would like to offer more money for your broken neck, but the computer program says this is all I can pay." But, the original slides - that would be the Unholy Grail.

September 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Our Seething Supreme Court Justice Airs His Tortured Soul

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It is frightening to know there is a tortured soul in Washington, D.C., who is likely to influence every aspect of our society for, possibly, four decades while barely containing a seething resentment over events that occurred more than 15 years ago.

Clarence Thomas Book Portrays a Tortured Soul

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas's new autobiography has just been published. Titled My Grandfather's Son, it covers his life up to his swearing in as a member of the high court.

In the book, Justice Thomas speaks out in vivid -- and sometimes seething -- detail about the events surrounding his nomination battle, the charges of sexual harassment against him by Anita Hill and his memories of growing up poor in rural Georgia.

From National Public Radio.

It must be very satisfying to Justice Thomas that he evens the score against the liberal, high-tech lynching party with every vote he casts.

Can anyone think of a better reason to impose a 20 year term limit on Supreme Court Justices?

September 28, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Of Mice And Men In Clinical Trials

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Sometimes it's better to be a mouse than a man.

Report assails FDA oversight of clinical trials

Federal investigator says little done to ensure patient safety

WASHINGTON - The Food and Drug Administration does very little to ensure the safety of the millions of people who participate in clinical trials, a federal investigator has found.

In a report released Friday, the inspector general of the Department of Health and Human Services, Daniel R. Levinson, said federal health officials did not know how many clinical trials were being conducted, audited fewer than 1 percent of the testing sites and, on the rare occasions when inspectors did appear, generally showed up long after the tests had been completed.

The F.D.A. has 200 inspectors, some of whom audit clinical trials part time, to police an estimated 350,000 testing sites. Even when those inspectors found serious problems in human trials, top drug officials in Washington downgraded their findings 68 percent of the time, the report found. Among the remaining cases, the agency almost never followed up with inspections to determine whether the corrective actions that the agency demanded had occurred, the report found.

"In many ways, rats and mice get greater protection as research subjects in the United States than do humans," said Arthur L. Caplan, chairman of the department of medical ethics at the University of Pennsylvania.

Animal research centers have to register with the federal government, keep track of subject numbers, have unannounced spot inspections and address problems speedily or risk closing, none of which is true in human research, Mr. Caplan said.

From MSNBC.

Everyone knows that humans can take the necessary steps to protect themselves if they choose to participate in a clinical trial of a new drug or medical device. Obviously, rats, mice and monkeys do not watch television or go to movies - how can they be expected to understand medical releases or detect the gradual decline in their liver function?

September 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Phil Spector Jury To See If They Can Name That Tune At Least One More Time

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Members of the jury, I am now going to read to you a revised instruction concerning second-degree murder in the hopes that you will now find a way to un-deadlock yourselves and return a verdict. Remember that you can still find the defendant, Phil Spector, innocent even though I am doing what I can to make it easier for you to convict him. If this does not do the trick for you, please let me know and I will see if there are some other instructions I can revise.

Judge in Spector Case Revises Jury Instructions

Morning Edition, September 20, 2007 · The judge in the Phil Spector murder trial in Los Angeles is giving the deadlocked jury one more chance to reach a verdict. The panel remains split after seven days of deliberations. But to avoid a mistrial, the judge revises his jury instruction about second-degree murder.

September 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Martha Stewart Rule Of Appellate Justice

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Your Honors, I would like to sum up my argument in an additional 46,000 words. I cite the Justice for Martha Stewart Rule.

The Curious Case Of Skilling's Really Long Appellate Brief

When we received Mr. Skilling's 239-page appellate brief this morning, we raised our eyebrows at its length. Coming in at roughly 60,000 words, we wondered whether the court placed limitations on the length of briefs. Indeed, it does. Federal Rule of Appellate Procedure 32(a)(7)(B)(i): "A principal brief is acceptable if it contains no more than 14,000 words."

So how did the lawyers for Skilling get away with their tome? They haven't. His lawyers, led by O'Melveny's Daniel Petrocelli submitted the brief to the court in draft form because it far exceeds the word limitation. In this 14-page motion in which Skilling's lawyers ask the court for permission to file a longer brief, they say the case is "extraordinary and compelling" enough to justify the additional length.

They also make some interesting points in arguing that size matters in this appeal. Among them: Because the DOJ has been permitted to file epic briefs in less voluminous and less complex criminal appeals, they should be allowed to here. Skilling's lawyers point out that in the Enron trial known as the "Nigerian Barge" case, the Fifth Circuit accepted a government brief filed at 69,730 words. And in the Martha Stewart case, they say, the Second Circuit accepted a brief at 56,078 words.

Posted by Peter Lattman at the Law Blog of The Wall Street Journal

Having spent an entire career living within what I considered to be overly restrictive time and word limits on voir dire, opening statements, closing arguments, appellate briefs and appellate arguments it is hard for me to accept that some litigants are permitted to write novels to express their points on appeal. I am certain there are people on death row whose attorneys had more to say but were required to shut their mouths by the rules. Obviously, Mr. Skilling feels his appeal deserves the Martha Stewart treatment. The question is, why was Martha allowed four times the appellate maximum to convince a panel of judges that her version of justice was correct? I know she bakes great cookies, but they always seemed normal-size to me.

September 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Need To Control Information Regarding Quality Of Care

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I believe it may have been Bambi's mother who gave us this rule to live by: If you don't have anything nice to say, don't say anything at all.

Now, Jeffrey Segal, CEO of the Medical Justice League of America, adds a subsection to the rule: Just don't say anything at all about your doctor unless you get permission in writing.

Medical Justice League of America

A new company is helping doctors write "gag order" forms for patients who might want to post about them on one of those health information sites.

This entry in the Wall Street Journal's Health Blog was intriguing:

Next time you go to the doctor, look for a new form buried in the stack of insurance and health-history paperwork you're asked to complete. You might find a contract that would require you ask your doctor for permission to grade him or her online.

A new company called "Medical Justice" is selling services to doctors. Among their offerings is a form that doctors can insist patients sign before providing treatment. The form forbids the patient from rating or reviewing the physician on any website or online forum.

"The whole notion of your reputation on the line and not having control makes physicians feel vulnerable," Medical Justice CEO Jeffrey Segal told the Health Blog. "The goal is to regain control of the flow of information."

From The Sentinel Effect

Do doctors really need to restrict free speech in order to cure their feelings of vulnerability? Do they need to control the flow of information in order to sleep at night?

This is the private healthcare delivery system we are fighting to preserve?

September 03, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Ultimate Defective Product - A Cadillac Hearse

Category: The Latest Baddest

Not wanting to have a blazing send-off to eternity I will be amending my will to preclude the transportation of my body to its final resting place in a Cadillac hearse.

Cadillac Hearses Recalled

Cadillac has issued a recall for 1049 of the 2006 and 2007 model year hearses built by Accubuilt, Inc. because of a potential fire hazard.

Some of the hearses, sold under the brand names of Superior, Sayers and Scoville, Eureka and Miller-Meteor have a faulty fuel neck assembly that could leak gasoline resulting in a fire under the hearse.

I always thought of product defects as potential causes of serious injuries and deaths. It never occurred to me that manufacturers could nail me one more time after my funeral. In my particular situation, having sued manufactuers for years, I should have anticipated a retaliatory strike from industry.

September 02, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"Buyer Beware" Is New Motto At Bush's Consumer Product Safety Commission

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission, under President Bush, has become the Industry Protection Agency.

Safety Agency Faces Scrutiny Amid Changes

Under the Bush administration, which promised to ease what it viewed as costly rules that placed unnecessary burdens on businesses, industry-friendly officials have been installed at agencies that oversee the nation's workplaces, food suppliers, environment and consumer goods.

Top officials at the Consumer Product Safety Commission say they have enhanced protections for the American public in recent years. But they have also blocked enforcement actions, weakened industry oversight rules and promoted voluntary compliance over safety mandates, according to interviews with current and former senior agency officials and consumer groups and a review of commission documents.

At a time when imports from China and other Asian countries surged, creating an ever greater oversight challenge, the Bush-appointed commissioners voiced few objections as the already tiny agency -- now just 420 workers -- was pared almost to the bone.

At the nation's ports, the handful of agency inspectors are hard pressed to find dangerous cargo before it enters the country; instead, they rely on other federal agents, who mostly act as trademark enforcers, looking for counterfeit Nike sneakers or Duracell batteries.

At the agency's cramped laboratory, a lone employee is charged with testing suspected defective toys from across the nation. At the nearby headquarters, safety initiatives have been stalled or dropped after dozens of jobs were eliminated in budget cutbacks.

Other workers quit in frustration. The head of the poison prevention unit, for example, resigned when efforts to require inexpensive child-resistant caps on hair care products that had burned toddlers were delayed so industry costs could be weighed against the potential benefit to children.

"Buyer beware -- that is all I have to say," Suzanne Barone, the poison prevention expert, who left in 2005, said.

From The New York Times

Is this just one of the faith-based initiatives so strongly advocated by President Bush? We need to pray for our safety and the safety of our children - it would likely be more effective than the efforts of our federal safety and health agencies.

September 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Surgical Gangs Still Operating

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Are they still operating on the wrong body part or leaving surgical instruments and sponges in patients after surgery? You bet!

State Health Dept: Final Medical Error Tally for 2006 is 85

INDIANAPOLIS - A state health department report shows 85 medical errors were reported last year in Indiana.

Health officials say the final report reveals the most common errors are bed sores, a foreign object left in patients after surgery and operations on the wrong body part.

It is the first year for the Medical Error Reporting system in Indiana.

It requires a concerted effort to perform surgery on the wrong body part or to leave a surgical instrument behind. It takes the active participation of more than one member of the surgical team. Maybe teams that perform this poorly should be called surgical gangs.

August 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"I'll Have To Hang Up; My Cell Phone Is On Fire"

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Globilization - when 46 million batteries manufactured by a Japanese corporation can overheat in cell phones sold by a company headquartered in Finland. If all 46 million batteries started a fire simultaneously would the planet survive?

Product Advisory: Nokia BL-5C battery

Dear Nokia Customer,

This is a product advisory for the Nokia-branded BL-5C battery manufactured by Matsushita Battery Industrial Co. Ltd. of Japan between December 2005 and November 2006. This product advisory does not apply to any other Nokia battery.

Nokia has identified that in very rare cases the affected batteries could potentially experience over heating initiated by a short circuit while charging, causing the battery to dislodge. Nokia is working closely with relevant local authorities to investigate this situation.

Nokia has several suppliers for BL-5C batteries that have collectively produced more than 300 million BL-5C batteries. This advisory applies only to the 46 million batteries manufactured by Matsushita between December 2005 and November 2006.

August 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Walgreens Does The Impossible And Kills A Drug Customer

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There are some things that can never happen. One is the misfilling of a prescription.

If you were to read the procedure manual or interview the head of any major U.S. pharmacy company you would learn that there are four or five independent steps which are required before a container of prescription drugs is handed to the patient/consumer. You would also learn that multiple employees, including a licensed pharmacist, are independently involved in the process. Therefore, you would realize it would simply be impossible for a misfilled prescription to wend its way through such a fail-safe sequence. It would be the equivalent of an accidental launch of a nuclear-armed long-range missile, which also cannot happen.

Well, Walgreens launched a missile and killed a customer.

Walgreens loses $25.8M in Fla. lawsuit

BARTOW, Fla. (AP) - A jury awarded $25.8 million Friday to the family of a cancer patient who was given a wrong prescription, had a stroke and died several years later, lawyers said.

Beth Hippely was prescribed Warfarin, a blood thinner, in 2002 to treat breast cancer. The prescription filled at a Walgreens (NYSE:WAG) pharmacy was 10 times what her doctor prescribed, court documents said.

The Polk County Circuit Court jury found the prescription error caused a cerebral hemorrhage resulting in permanent bodily injury, disability and physical pain. The mother of three died in January at the age of 46.

A 19-year-old pharmacy technician, with little training, misfiled the prescription, according to court documents.

Where was the 19-year-old's supervising licensed pharmacist? On a lunch break?

August 14, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Blindness Is Ultimate Reward For Lighting Up

Category: The Latest Baddest

Many of us recall the admonition - don't do that or you will go blind. Medical causation was always dubious, however.

Now, parents can use the terrifying warning to discourage another bad habit, smoking.

Smoking May Hurt Eyes

The long list of health risks associated with smoking just got a little longer.

New research shows that smokers are more likely than nonsmokers to develop the late stages of age-related macular degeneration (AMD).

AMD is the leading cause of blindness in Western nations, according to researcher Jennifer Tan, MBBS, and colleagues.

Tan works in Sydney, Australia, at the University of Sydney's Centre for Vision Research and Westmead Hospital's ophthalmology department.

Is there any organ of the body which is not adversely affected by smoking? Does tobacco have any positive social value other than as a transport vehicle for large sums of money into the bank accounts of Big Tobacco?

August 10, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Heartless Jerks At Johnson & Johnson

Category: The Latest Baddest

As a greedy trial lawyer it often becomes my duty to defend another greedy professional or company. Today, I had to consider defending Johnson & Johnson because of the following post at IPThoughts.

Suing the Red Cross?

Every once in a while you see the type of lawsuit that makes you wonder if the client has turned over its thinking ability to its lawyers. That was the case recently when Johnson & Johnson filed a lawsuit against the American Red Cross for trademark infringement. Johnson & Johnson, which owns the trademark registration for the red cross symbol for a variety of goods, asserts that the American Red Cross has crossed the line by licensing third parties to sell emergency preparedness kits and wound dressing kits under the AMERICAN RED CROSS name and red cross symbol.

Johnson & Johnson may have a legally valid point. The more important question - does the lawsuit make business sense? While the American Red Cross has not been immune to criticism, suing a high profile charity that is generally well respected is not likely to be listed among the smartest PR moves of 2007. There is nothing like spending millions on public relations, only to have your legal department make you look like a bunch of heartless greedy jerks.

Posted by Rand Bateman

After two minutes of thought, I easily concluded Johnson & Johnson probably is the home of a rather large number of heartless jerks. I readily accept greed as a character trait, but I would not even share a cab with a heartless jerk, especially one who would sue the American Red Cross.

August 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Guess What Happens When Mine Safety Regulation Is Entrusted To Former Coal Managers

Category: The Latest Baddest

Are we safer now than we were prior to 9/11? This question is usually asked in regard to the threat of terrorism. However, coal miners and their families have a special reason for asking the question.

Bush's Gutting of Safety Rules Preceded Utah Mine Collapse

The trapping of six miners in a Utah coal mine collapse is the latest coal industry disaster to occur since George W. Bush took office. Since 2000, Bush has cut funding for mine safety enforcement by $15 million and stacked the Mine Safety and Health Administration with representatives of corporate interests.

Coal mining deaths have increased sharply in the past few years. 2006 was the deadliest year in a decade for coal miners.

As the AFL-CIO notes, 47 coal miners were killed on the job last year, a 210 percent increase over 2005, when 22 coal miners died on the job. 2006 was marked by several major disasters, including a Jan. 2 explosion that killed 12 coal miners in Sago Mine in West Virginia.

Although times are perilous for coal miners, it's a different story for America's coal companies. For example, 2005 was a record year for revenue and profits for St. Louis-based Peabody Energy Corp., the world's largest private-sector coal producer. In 2005, Peabody recorded revenues of $4.64 billion, up about 28 percent from 2004.

As WSWS.org points out, the "Bush administration has stacked (the Mine Safety and Health Administration) with former coal managers who have unashamedly tailored the agency's policies to meet the profit needs of the operators."

Posted at BeggarsCanBeChoosers.com

Everybody knows that former coal managers would protect the health and safety of coal miners. They are even better than Arabian Horse Association officials. Heck of a job, fellas.

August 07, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Family That Bounces Together Ends Up In The ER

Category: The Latest Baddest

Some activities are just too dangerous for ordinary folks to try. For example, cliff diving probably should be left to experts.

Why anyone would purchase a trampoline for their backyard is beyond me. Articles like the following appear weekly.

Get A Jump On Injury Prevention - Trampoline Safety Strategies Can Decrease The Number And Severity Of Related Injuries
Although trampolines were once found only in gymnasiums, in recent years, it has become increasingly common to see kids using them in their own backyards. While athletes use trampolines under the supervision of coaches and other experts, home users rarely take such precautions, leaving themselves at risk for injury. The American Academy of Orthopaedic Surgeons (AAOS) recommends that trampoline users take care to protect themselves. [I would recommend a tether to prevent any bounce higher than 12 inches.]

In 2006, more than 272,000 people were treated in hospital emergency rooms, doctors' offices, clinics and other medical settings for trampoline-related injuries, according to the U.S. Consumer Products Safety Commission.

August 05, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Beware Of Birchwood Clogs

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Every pair of clogs I have ever worn has caused me to stumble or trip. Long ago I decided I must be clog-challenged. Now, I am informed by our government that one particular pair of clogs is a really bad actor.

Recall Alert from the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission

Sandal Clogs Recalled by Hanna Andersson Due to Fall Hazard

Name of Product: Birchwood Sole Sandal Clogs

Hazard: The leather ankle strap can tear or separate from the clog sole, posing a fall hazard.

I'll keep a lookout for these wooden trip artists and warn all my friends.

August 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"Go Slow" Was Message From Washington On OxyContin Case

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The Bush Administration isn't much for the rights of accused terrorists or criminal defendants, But, boy, do they go the extra mile for drug manufacturers.

U.S. Attorney Became Target After Rebuffing Justice Dept.

The night before the government secured a guilty plea from the manufacturer of the addictive painkiller OxyContin, a senior Justice Department official called the U.S. attorney handling the case and, at the behest of an executive for the drugmaker, urged him to slow down, the prosecutor told the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday.

John L. Brownlee, the U.S. attorney in Roanoke, testified that he was at home the evening of Oct. 24 when he received the call on his cellphone from Michael J. Elston, then chief of staff to the deputy attorney general and one of the Justice aides involved in the removal of nine U.S. attorneys last year.

Brownlee settled the case anyway. Eight days later, his name appeared on a list compiled by Elston of prosecutors that officials had suggested be fired.

Brownlee ultimately kept his job. But as Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales confronts withering criticism over the dismissals, the episode in the OxyContin case provides fresh evidence of efforts by senior officials in the department's headquarters to sway the work of U.S. attorneys' offices.

From the Washington Post

I would be like to know if Attorney General Alberto Gonzales was, as is his custom, out of the loop on this matter.

July 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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An Alarming Solution For Kids Left To Bake In Cars

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At least 300 children have died in the last 10 years because they were left in hot cars. If we make the rather obvious assumption that not all children left in hot cars died we may well be dealing with thousands of children baking in metal cans and at risk of serious injury or death.

How Should System Respond to Parents Who Leave Kids in Cars?

The AP analyzed 300-some child deaths in hot cars in the last 10 years. Sometimes caregivers are charged, sometimes not. When they are prosecuted sentences vary. Mother are more often charged than fathers and, when convicted, their sentences average two years longer. Sentences vary when kids die in hot cars, Seattle Times, July 28, 2007.

Posted by Mary Whisner at TRIAL AD NOTES

It may be difficult to decide the degree of culpability of each parent or caregiver and, therefore, the appropriate legal response after the death has occurred. However, it is not difficult to see that a simple alarm loudly and continuously sounding if a seatbelt remains engaged more than 20 minutes after a car's ignition is turned off could save lives. My car sounds like a bank robbery has occurred if I fail to buckle my seatbelt within about 60 seconds of ignition. Why not the same alarm for an engaged seatbelt without ignition?

July 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Wash Your Damn Lab Coats!

Category: The Latest Baddest

When a doctor visits you in the hospital wearing that spiffy-looking lab coat it is likely he is accompanied by a million or so little buddies, a month's supply of dangerous bacteria.

MRSA Report Cites Irresponsibility Everywhere

My colleague Betsy McCaughey, chair of the Committee to Reduce Infection Deaths, publishes in July's Best Hospitals 2007 of US News and World Report that hospitals must begin to take responsibility for their infection rates, and begin to take the necessary steps to clean themselves up.

She cites a study that shows that "65 percent of physicians and other medical professionals admitted they hadn't washed their lab coat in at least a week, even though they knew it was dirty. Nearly 16 percent said they hadn't put on a clean lab coat in at least a month. Lab coats become covered in bacteria when doctors lean over the bedsides of patients who carry the organisms. Days later the bacteria are still alive, repeatedly contaminating doctors' hands and being carried to other patients."

From EVERY PATIENT'S ADVOCATE

If doctors aren't going to wash their lab coats why don't hospitals hand them freshly laundered ones as they enter the facility? Or, make the docs wear those cute patient gowns that tie up in the back?

July 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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OxyContin's Marketers Guilty But Not Bad Enough For Jail Time

Category: The Latest Baddest

OxyContin, the drug, probably has a proper place in the treatment of certain types of pain in particular patient populations (such as, the pain of a terminal cancer patient). OxyContin, the marketing campaign, had no place in the drug industry.

OxyContin maker, execs fined $634.5 million

Judge ruled that drug company misled the public about addiction risk

Purdue Pharma L.P., the maker of OxyContin, and three of its executives were ordered Friday to pay a $634.5 million fine for misleading the public about the painkiller's risk of addiction.

U.S. District Judge James Jones levied the fine on Purdue, its top lawyer and former president and former chief medical officer after a hearing that lasted about three-and-a-half hours. The hearing included statements by numerous people who said their lives were changed forever by addiction to OxyContin, a trade name for a long-acting form of the painkiller oxycodone.

From 1996 to 2001, the number of oxycodone-related deaths nationwide increased fivefold while the annual number of OxyContin prescriptions increased nearly 20-fold, according to a report by the U.S. Drug Enforcement Administration. In 2002, the DEA said the drug caused 146 deaths and contributed to another 318.

Purdue Pharma L.P., its top lawyer and former president and former chief medical officer pleaded guilty in May to claiming to doctors that OxyContin was less addictive and less subject to abuse than other pain medications. The sentencing Friday ends the national case.

Michael Friedman, who retired in June as Purdue's president, general counsel Howard Udell and former chief medical officer Paul Goldenheim each pleaded guilty to a misdemeanor count of misbranding the drug. Of the total fine, $34.5 million was levied on those three.

From AP and MSNBC

Sounds like some serious, intentional wrongdoing that caused well over 100 deaths. Apparently, not serious enough to justify even a Paris Hilton county jail sleepover.

Jones placed the company on probation for five years and each of the executives on probation for three years. He also ordered the three to perform 400 hours of community service related to prevention of prescription drug abuse.

July 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Atlantic City Gambling Casino, Lung Cancer And Kick In The Butt

Category: The Latest Baddest

Gambling casinos have a way of producing winners and losers. That is probably inherent in the nature of the business. However, some losers never place any bets.

Suit says firing by Tropicana payback for smoke-free stance

ATLANTIC CITY -- A former floorman at the Tropicana Casino and Resort has filed suit against the casino for wrongful termination, saying he was "unceremoniously fired" because he publicly advocated a smoke-free workplace.

Vincent Rennich, of Somers Point, was let go on March 5, one week after he testified about the health hazards of second-hand smoke in casinos in front of the state Senate Health, Human Services and Senior Citizens Committee, according to the complaint filed in Superior Court in Atlantic City. At that hearing, Sen. Robert W. Singer, R-Burlington, Mercer, Monmouth, Ocean, thanked Rennich and other casino employees for coming to testify when "you've put your jobs on the line."

"A crueler fate could not have befallen a 26-year veteran of (the Tropicana) and the casino gaming industry, for Mr. Rennich developed lung cancer from his protracted exposure to second-hand smoke in the workplace," the suit contends.

Rennich, who never smoked cigarettes, sued the Tropicana a year ago for providing the unhealthful workplace that he said caused his lung cancer. Doctors discovered he had the disease when he underwent medical tests after an automobile accident. Since that time, he has told his story at several public events and been a vocal advocate for including casinos in the state's 15-month-old Smoke Free Air Act.

I can only hope the wheel of fortune spins in Vincent's favor when the jury eventually awards him the damages he deserves.

July 18, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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HCA's King-Sized Screw-up

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HCA needs to revise its background check procedures.

Suing Putnam General and John Anderson King

The people who are suing the former Putnam General Hospital packed a courtroom Monday in Putnam County, finally getting their cases before a jury.

It's the first of many civil trials involving the hiring of doctor John King and his work at the former Putnam General.

We already know the allegations that doctor king botched more than a hundred orthopedic surgeries at the hospital when it was owned by HCA.

The question in this first trial, did the hospital do enough to check King's background, before the doctor got temporary privileges to begin doing surgery.

The company that put King to work in Putnam County is on trial, the allegation that HCA and Putnam General rushed to get King operating privileges, despite serious flaws and omissions on his application.

And, wouldn't you think that by, say, the 25th botched surgery HCA would have gotten a whiff of a problem?

July 16, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Take These Drug Ads And Get Plenty Of Sleep

Category: The Latest Baddest

Americans sit virtually alone in the industrialized world in front of incessant television ads extolling the wonders of prescription drugs. Aren't we lucky?

The Drug Advertising Debate

By Arlene Weintraub, Business Week

Some members of Congress want to limit Big Pharma's ability to promote products directly to consumers. But the roadblocks are high.

If Representative Henry Waxman (D-Calif.) had his way, the little butterfly used to advertise the insomnia remedy Lunesta might not be allowed to flutter all over our TV screens, as it has incessantly since the drug was approved in late 2004. Waxman believes the U.S. Food & Drug Administration should be able to forbid companies from advertising directly to consumers until new drugs have been on the market for at least three years.

Critics are increasingly concerned that the ads encourage consumers to demand drugs they don't need, and in the process put themselves at risk of suffering dangerous side effects. A moratorium on advertising, some say, would give the FDA and drugmakers more time to understand the risks a particular drug poses before they plaster it all over the media.

Only one other country in the world--New Zealand--allows drug companies to market their products directly to consumers. All others deem it too dangerous.

However unusual, marketing drugs to consumers has become a huge business. Since 1997, when the FDA relaxed the rules on Big Pharma's television marketing, drug advertising surged to $5.3 billion in 2006, up 14% from 2005, according to TNS Media Intelligence. Ad spending in the pharma sector grew faster than that of any other industry among the top 10 spenders, including autos and telecom.

Who cares about drug safety or overuse of new drugs when there is over $5 billion to be made by advertisers and zillions of dollars to be made on each brand new wonder drug!

July 15, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Without Computers (Except For Billing)

Category: The Latest Baddest

What you and your doctor do not know about electronic medical records (EMR) systems is bad for you.

Physicians Go Haywire With EMRs, Critics Say

In a June 27 Healthleadersmedia.com entry "Healthcare Crisis: EMR Non-acceptance in the US," Bill Bysinger, principal of WGB Advisory, a health care and technology management consulting company, and co-founder of eMRnet, an EMR services company, implies American physicians have gone "haywire" when it comes to EMRs. Physicians, he says, simply do not know what is good for them or their patients electronically.

Bysinger's June 27 essay opens:

It has been almost 20 years since electronic medical records systems were introduced into medical practices, yet we have the lowest adoption rate of all the developed countries in the world. Most of Europe, Japan, China, Australia and even Russia have adoption rates above 50 percent and in many countries above 90 percent.

We are supposed to be the world leader in adopting technology, but recent studies have put our practice EMR adoption rate at somewhere between 15 percent and 18 percent.

I submit the root cause of the problem is the culture of the health care industry. Health care in the U.S. especially at the practice level is a cottage industry. Medical practices don't make business decisions based on productivity or process improvement, which dominates other industries. Instead, they make decisions based on how much money do they have to spend and what will it do for the providers personally (and immediately).

Bysinger closes:

We cannot be proud of the fact that we have the best physicians in the world and are ignoring the value of electronic medical records as an enabler of better care.

The U.S. is the leader in applied information technology in most industries in the world, and we stand in last place in applied health information technology among developed countries in the world. [Attention, Michael Moore] This makes me ashamed of my industry and more focused on evangelizing change in our broken practice paradigm of paper records and manual clinic information processes.

From MEDINNOVATIONBLOG

Should Americans tolerate a medical cottage industry in a digital age? We certainly do not pay cottage industry prices.

July 11, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Morgan Stanley "Repositions" Client Into Huge Losses

Category: The Latest Baddest

Was it repositioning or plundering?

Panel orders Morgan Stanley to pay customer $850,000 in damages for bad investments, unauthorized trades

Morgan Stanley has been ordered to pay $850,000 to an elderly South Florida customer who lost more than $370,000 through unauthorized trades and the brokerage firm's failure to supervise a broker in its Plantation office.

"I wanted investments just to be able to be retired and have a nice income to live on," said Jordan Weinerman, a retired builder from Philadelphia. "I'm not a kid; I'm 81 years old and I can't go back to work, you know?"

A National Association of Securities Dealers' arbitration panel on Friday found that Morgan Stanley had breached its fiduciary duty and was liable for negligent supervision. It awarded Weinerman $600,000 in compensatory damages and $250,000 in punitive damages.

Weinerman was a long-term Morgan Stanley customer who shifted his accounts to Morgan Stanley's Plantation office when he moved to Aventura in the 1990s, said his attorney, Jeffrey Erez, of Sonn & Erez in Fort Lauderdale.

"They repositioned the entire account very quickly," into Morgan Stanley's own products, Erez said. "We proved the broker made more than $100,000 in commissions while doing this."

Repositioning - is that the same as breaking into the safe?

July 11, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Bouncing Kids Clog Emergency Rooms

Category: The Latest Baddest

Is purchasing a home trampoline a form of child abuse?

Increase In Trampoline-Related Injuries, Mainly At Home

According to the latest study on trampoline injuries by Rhode Island Hospital researchers, injuries have more than doubled in the past decade. An earlier Rhode Island Hospital study looking at data from 2001 and 2002 indicated an average of 75,000 children per year were seen in emergency departments across the country. The new, more comprehensive study, which examined emergency department visits from 2000 through 2005, shows even higher rates -- 531,378 trampoline-related injuries over the study period, an average of 88,563 each year. Further, 95 percent of those injuries occurred on home trampolines.

July 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Our Fog Of War President

Category: The Latest Baddest

Unfortunately for America and the rest of the world, former Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld was only partly correct when he said, "you go to war with the Army you have. They're not the Army you might want or wish to have at a later time." You also go to war with the Commander in Chief you have and not the one you might want or wish to have.

Our Commander in Chief gives new meaning to the phrase fog of war.

Administration Shaving Yardstick for Iraq Gains

The Iraqi government is unlikely to meet any of the political and security goals or timelines President Bush set for it in January when he announced a major shift in U.S. policy, according to senior administration officials closely involved in the matter. As they prepare an interim report due next week, officials are marshaling alternative evidence of progress to persuade Congress to continue supporting the war.

"There are things going on that we never could have foreseen," said one official, who noted that the original benchmarks set by Bush six months ago -- and endorsed by the Maliki government -- are not only unachievable in the short term but also irrelevant to changing the conditions in Iraq.

From the Washington Post

I never would have foreseen a President who foresees so poorly, who repeatedly announces the unachievable and who trades in the irrelevant. Instead of the War President we have been cursed with the Fog of War President.

July 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Goodlingization Of The Justice Department Not A Good Thing

Category: The Latest Baddest

I won't even hire a plumber who informs me in our first conversation he is a born again Christian because I would prefer someone who touts credentials more specific to plumbing skills, but the Bush Administration is turning the Department of Justice over to the born again graduates of Regent University School of Law.

The process is called the Goodlingization of the government.

How a 'fourth tier' religious law school infiltrated the US Government

The hiring of 150 graduates of a poorly regarded faith-based law school has raised questions about the influence of faith on the American political process, says a New York trial lawyer Regent University School of Law in Virginia Beach, Virginia, has roughly 500 students and is ranked at the rock bottom as a "fourth tier" law school in an authoritative survey published by U.S. News & World Report.

[S]ince it took office, the Bush Administration has hired 150 Regent graduates and with most of these lawyers are employed by the Department of Justice.

The infiltration by mediocre graduates of a poorly rated faith-based law school into key positions in the Department of Justice is just plain scary.

Why the term Goodlingization?

One of its prominent graduates is Monica Goodling, a lawyer with scant prosecutorial experience, who resigned under fire last April after a five-year stint as a top aide to Alberto Gonzales, the US Attorney-General.

Goodling....testified that she may have gone "too far" in the course of her official duties and inadvertently "crossed the line" by asking "political" questions of applicants for non-political jobs in the Department of Justice. It was at Goodling's insistence that one of the coveted "jobs" - United States Attorney for Arkansas - went to Timothy Griffin, a close political aide to Karl Rove in the White House.

From TimesOnline

July 05, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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There Are Mercenaries In Iraq And We Hired Them

Category: The Latest Baddest

The U.S. Government is out-sourcing the Iraqi War.

Contractors exceed troop level in Iraq

Government figures show that private contractors outnumber troops by about 20,000. One critic calls it "the coalition of the billing."

By T. Christian Miller, Los Angeles Times

The number of U.S.-paid private contractors in Iraq now exceeds that of American combat troops, newly released figures show, raising fresh questions about the privatization of the war effort.

More than 180,000 civilians -- including Americans, foreigners and Iraqis -- are working in Iraq under U.S. contracts, according to State and Defense Department figures. Including the recent troop reinforcements, 160,000 soldiers and a few thousand civilian government employees are stationed in Iraq.

The total number of private contractors, far higher than previously reported, shows how heavily the United States has relied on private corporations to carry out Iraq policy -- a mission criticized as being undermanned.

"We don't have control of all the coalition guns in Iraq. That's dangerous for our country," said William Nash, a retired Army general and reconstruction expert. The Pentagon "is hiring guns. You can rationalize it all you want, but that's obscene." [In grade school we learned about mercenaries who were hired by other, despicable, countries.]

Although private companies have played a role in conflicts since the American Revolution, the United States has relied more on contractors in Iraq than in any other war in the nation's history, according to military experts.

What would happen if the contractors' employees went on strike?

I guess you go to war with the Army you've got and the mercenaries you can hire.

July 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Michigan Undershorts Testify In Divorce Case

Category: The Latest Baddest

Now we know the real benefits of clean underwear.

Scientist tests husband's DNA, fidelity

A state forensics scientist who said she tested DNA in her husband's underwear to find out whether he was cheating could be disciplined if investigators determine she violated the use of state equipment. Ann Chamberlain-Gordon of Okemos testified in a March 7 divorce hearing that she ran the test in September on the underwear of Charles Gordon Jr. Asked by his attorney what she found, she answered: "Another female. It wasn't me."

Michigan State Police, which oversees the Lansing forensics lab where Chamberlain-Gordon works, started to investigate her after her husband's attorney wrote to authorities and media outlets questioning how many times DNA tests have been improperly run.

Investigators expect to decide by next week what they found. Her duties have not been restricted during the investigation, state police spokeswoman Shanon Akans said Tuesday.

"We don't know exactly what was or wasn't done," Akans said.

State police policies on the care and use of property say "department supplies, materials or equipment shall not be used for any non-duty or non-department purpose."

It will be interesting to see how many unauthorized DNA tests have been run at this forensics lab. My hunch is a significant number. The temptation to definitively and secretly answer important questions would be great. Couple that temptation with the forensic focus on getting to the bottom of a difficult issue and I suspect more than dirty underwear has been tested improperly in Lansing and at other such labs.

July 03, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Insurance Blogger Sees A Jihad Behind Single Payer Push

Category: The Latest Baddest

One sure way to get attention these days is to attach the word terrorism to just about any other word. Examples: bio-terrorism, cyber-terrorism, chemical terrorism, etc.

If, in fact, the topic truly relates to terrorism, who can complain? However, if the connection to terrorism is a cheap, misguided and sophomoric gimmick to simply draw attention to an unrelated matter, all of us should complain. I have a nominee for the latter category of usage of the word terrorism.

Bob Vineyard, CLU, posting at INSUREBLOG:

Medical Terrorism

There is a new wave of terror that is infiltrating our country. This movement has it's roots outside of the boundaries of the U.S. but much of it is homegrown. People from all walks of life are being recruited into this cause. Young people and old. Educated and uneducated. Republicans and Democrats are being forced into joining this revolution.

These are the medical terrorists who want to replace a free market system where all but a very small percentage (around 4%) have unfettered access to the best care in the world. Their misguided ideals have led them to believe that a system totally managed by the government is superior to a free market system.

This medical terrorism has got to stop. The politicians and news media that pander to these terrorists are simply granting them a stage in which to spew forth their rhetoric.

I understand that Bob is troubled at the thought of losing his career in the insurance industry if a universal single-payer insurance program were to be adopted in the U.S. And, he has every right to tell the rest of us what a mistake he feels that step would be. But, he should not so easily throw the word terrorism into the discussion. His article, by his own definition, could be described as verbal terrorism. Wouldn't that be childish?

June 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Should You Have Your Surgery In PA or Just Forget The Whole Thing?

Category: The Latest Baddest

The new state motto in Pennsylvania may be "Surgical Mistakes R Us", if the official state report is accurate.

In Pa., 175 surgical mistakes in 30 months

In one case, doctors removed a patient's healthy thyroid after a laboratory mix-up led to an incorrect cancer diagnosis.

In another, a neurosurgeon halted a procedure after making an incision on the wrong side of the patient's head.

In yet another, a surgeon inserted a needle into a patient's right knee before realizing that the operation was planned for the other leg.

Those surgical misadventures are examples of the 175 errors made by hospitals and surgery centers in Pennsylvania, according to a report released Tuesday from the state's Patient Safety Authority. The survey, the first of its kind, covered the 2 1/2 years that ended Dec. 31.

Though rare, "wrong-site" surgeries are among the most sensational medical errors because they are so clearly avoidable. But the problems persist despite more than a decade of national efforts to stop them.

"Every other day in Pennsylvania we have a report of a wrong-site surgery being caught either before or after the start of the operation," said Stan Smullens, vice chair of the safety authority.

In 83 reported cases, the procedure was completed before the mistake was detected.

The report examined four surgical errors: the wrong side, the wrong body part, the wrong procedure, and the wrong patient. Nearly a third of the errors and near-misses occurred on legs, a quarter on the head and neck region, and a fifth around the groin.

National estimates of the wrong-site surgeries range from one in 10,000 operations to one in 113,000.

From philly.com

The frightening thing about the report is that it only deals with four types of surgical errors. Anyone care to look into anesthesia errors, instruments and sponges left behind, careless surgical techniques, unnecessary surgery or post-op screw-ups?

June 27, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Has U-Haul Become We-Haul?

Category: The Latest Baddest

The victims of highway accidents are often not experienced in gathering and preserving the physical evidence of the cause of the crash. Sometimes, if they survive the impact, they are physically incapable of doing anything but take a ride to the nearest ER in an ambulance. As a result, victims and their families must rely on others to do what needs to be done to gather and preserve the physical evidence from the accident scene (such as, the defective tire).

U-Haul knows all of this very well. But, it still manages to lose or discard important evidence, according to a report in the L.A. Times.

Key trial evidence goes missing

Injured customers suing U-Haul over accidents have sought key equipment, only to find it lost or discarded.

A Kern County Superior Court judge declared in December that he would sanction U-Haul for "extreme negligence" in losing the evidence. Two weeks later, a federal judge in Ohio penalized U-Haul for similar conduct in a separate case.

U-Haul, the leader of the do-it-yourself moving industry, has repeatedly lost, altered or discarded truck and trailer parts sought by injured customers who sued the company, a Times investigation found.

In some cases, the company scrapped or repaired damaged parts in defiance of court orders that they be preserved as evidence.

At least twice, judges have imposed on U-Haul an exceedingly rare and severe sanction for misconduct in a civil case: throwing out the company's defense and entering judgments in favor of plaintiffs who needed the missing evidence to pursue their claims.

Companies have a duty to preserve evidence not only when a suit has been filed, but also when they know one is likely due to injuries or deaths. Even the inadvertent loss or destruction of evidence may be punished by the courts because it can deprive the other side of a chance to prove its case.

In its mass marketing the company is U-Haul. In its risk management it is We-Haul (The Evidence Away).

June 27, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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U.S. Hospitals Must Be Distributing MRSA With The Wrist Bands

Category: The Latest Baddest

U.S. Hospitals are sending patients home with a lifetime and deadly infection.

As Many As 1.2M Hospital Patients Infected With MRSA Annually, Study Finds

As many as 1.2 million U.S. hospital patients are infected with methicillin-resistant staphylococcus aureus each year, nearly 10 times as many as previously estimated, according to a study released on Monday at the annual meeting of the Association for Professionals in Infection Control and Epidemiology in San Jose, Calif., the Chicago Tribune reports (Graham, Chicago Tribune, 6/25).

The study suggests that 1.2 million hospital patients are infected with MRSA annually and that 423,000 additional patients are colonized with MRSA, compared with previous CDC estimates that 126,000 were infected annually (Chicago Tribune, 6/25).

According to the survey, the active infection rate is 8.6 times higher than the most recent estimate of the rate of infection by CDC (Russell, San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25).

APIC CEO Kathy Warye said, "This study is a real wake-up call to health care workers. It presents a much more comprehensive picture of the burden of MRSA." Lisa McGiffert, manager of the Stop Hospital Infections project of Consumers Union, said MRSA infections are "dangerous" and "there is not enough being done to protect patients from getting them," adding, "Hospitals are going to have to do more. They have to be more aggressive, and it's just not happening" (San Francisco Chronicle, 6/25).

I wonder what the MRSA infection rate is in England, Canada, France and Cuba where universal health insurance exists. Can it be any worse?

June 25, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The AMA's Profitable Sideline - Selling Medical Data To Big Pharma

Category: The Latest Baddest

If data mining conjures up images of hard work underground seeking nuggets of information not readily available, you need to revise your imagination. The American Medical Association likely earns millions of dollars each year selling information to the drug industry.

The true picture is developed at PharmaGossip:

AMA Chicago meeting - data mining on the agenda

How do Big Pharma know which doctors prescribe the latest and most expensive brand name drugs?

They have inside information on the prescribing habits of virtually every doctor in the United States. Pharmaceutical and device manufacturers buy this information from the American Medical Association and from companies that match the AMA's data with pharmacy records.

While such practices have gone on for years, the issue is expected to be a hot topic at this week's annual meeting of the AMA in Chicago, with some groups planning to protest during the gathering at the Hilton Chicago.

Opposition to the data sales comes from a coalition of doctor groups, including the Prescription Project, the American Medical Student Association and the National Physicians Alliance. The group plans to stage protests as well as handing out fliers advocating an end to the AMA's practices.

"The average doctor has no idea that this is going on," said Dr. Michael Mendoza, clinical assistant professor in the department of family medicine at the University of Chicago's Pritzker School of Medicine who is involved in the Prescription Project.

Is it time for a name change for the AMA? American Medical Data Sales Association?

June 23, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Do You Know Where Your Pharmacy Records Are Tonight?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Despite all efforts to preserve the confidentiality of private medical information Americans can reasonably assume that their records may be on the shelves at Target stores (or any other well-heeled operation with a pharmacy) right along with detergent and cameras.

Patient info for sale

Randee Lonergan filled her prescriptions at the same pharmacy for years. But a month ago she was shocked to find the pharmacy closed and all her family's medical records sold to a nearby Target store in Levittown.

Her information was sold legally because of a loophole in medical privacy law that allows pharmacies to "auction off" customer records - including prescriptions, information about medical conditions, Social Security numbers and insurance records - "to the highest bidder," Sen. Charles Schumer said yesterday.

The practice of selling off records, Schumer said, is a nationwide problem. Federal law requires doctors to let patients know when their medical history is being shared. But the law allows pharmacies to sell patient information to other pharmacies, Schumer said.

From Newsday.com

June 22, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Why Men Don't Ask For Directions

Category: The Latest Baddest

This is just one more reason men hate to ask for directions.

Man with joint behind his ear asks officer for directions

PORT ST. LUCIE, Fla. (AP) -- Police say an Illinois man is now facing charges of marijuana possession after he asked a police officer for directions while he had a marijuana cigarette behind his ear.

Maurice Stuckey approached a police officer in a parking lot and asked for directions.

The officer asked Stuckey about the cigarette and Stuckey told him it held marijuana. That's when the officer searched Stuckey's car and found a plastic bag with five grams of marijuana.

June 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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How Not To Select An Impartial Jury

Category: The Latest Baddest

Jury selection is best accomplished when counsel have the fullest opportunity to question and evaluate each prospective juror. It is most apt to result in miscarriages of justice when more of the process is retained by the trial judge or left to the ability and willingness of the jurors to self-report their prejudices or potential bias.

For example, who can really believe that when the trial judge asks this question - Can you assure us that you can put aside your experience as president of an insurance company and be fair and impartial in this matter? - there is a high probability of a truthful answer?

From the D.C. Circuit comes another variation on the theme of supposed judicial efficiency.

Questionable Questions

In United States v. Littlejohn, the court held that despite evidence strongly indicating that Andrew Littlejohn was a felon unlawfully possessing a firearm, Littlejohn's Sixth Amendment right to an impartial jury had been violated. The culprit? Compound questions.

The court asked prospective jurors [1] if they or people close to them had previously served on a jury or were law enforcement officers, lawyers, or law students; also, [2] whether they believed that fact would prejudice them as jurors. But instead of asking these two parts separately, according to the opinion, they were asked a compound question:

The court repeatedly instructed them to remain silent unless (1) they would have answered yes, and (2) they believed that their . . . experience would render them unable to evaluate the evidence impartially.

The opinion goes on to provide a hypothetical (one of the key witnesses in the case was a U.S. Park Police officer):

Suppose one of the prospective jurors was a thirty-year veteran of the U.S. Park Police. Had the district court asked [the questions separately], the juror would have had to answer in the affirmative, giving Littlejohn and the court an opportunity to explore that potential source of bias. But in response to the district court's compound question, the prospective juror had to keep that information secret unless the juror, in his or her own opinion, believed that working for the Park Police would make it impossible to serve impartially.

The court found that this left too much up to the jurors and thus vacated Littlejohn's conviction.

From The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times

June 17, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Five U.S. Supreme Court Justices Need To Return To Earth

Category: The Latest Baddest

It is official - five of the justices of the U.S. Supreme Court are living on another planet.

Beware of the Judge

The Supreme Court's doctrine of tough luck

KEITH BOWLES was convicted of murder in an Ohio state court and sentenced to 15 years to life in prison. As was his right, Mr. Bowles challenged his conviction in federal court. He lost, though the judge and the clerk in the case didn't let him know before the deadline for appealing. When he learned of the ruling, Mr. Bowles asked for extra time. The judge agreed -- and gave Mr. Bowles 17 days. Mr. Bowles filed his notice of appeal 16 days later. Trouble was, despite the judge's instructions, the law that sets out the time frame for such actions provides for only a 14-day extension. On Thursday, the Supreme Court, splitting 5 to 4, threw out Mr. Bowles's claim, ruling that even though he had complied with the judge's order, he was still too late.

The majority opinion, by Justice Clarence Thomas, insisted that the court was left with no choice but to dismiss the case; these time limits, Justice Thomas said, are "jurisdictional," and failing to comply with them, for whatever reason, divests courts of the ability to hear the claim. In less legalistic language: tough luck.

In fact, as the dissent by Justice David H. Souter pointed out, the majority was not in any way bound to reach this manifestly unjust result; indeed, it had to ignore and overrule precedents to keep Mr. Bowles out of court.

"It is intolerable for the judicial system to treat people this way, and there is not even a technical justification for condoning this bait and switch," Justice Souter wrote. It "certainly seems reasonable to rely on an order from a federal judge," he noted -- "unless every statement by a federal court is to be tagged with the warning 'Beware of the Judge.' "

Beware of this court may be more like it.

Excerpts from an editorial in the Washington Post

June 17, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Corporations Are Not Good Citizens, Not Even Close

Category: The Latest Baddest

Did you know that corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined? This and 19 more amazing facts about the state of corporations in America. Of course, being a greedy trial lawyer gives me a front row seat on the injuries, deaths and other losses inflicted upon us by corporations, but some of these facts are mind-boggling.

Twenty Things You Should Know About Corporate Crime

Number 20. Corporate crime inflicts far more damage on society than all street crime combined.

Whether in bodies or injuries or dollars lost, corporate crime and violence wins by a landslide.

The FBI estimates, for example, that burglary and robbery -- street crimes -- costs the nation $3.8 billion a year.

The losses from a handful of major corporate frauds -- Tyco, Adelphia, Worldcom, Enron -- swamp the losses from all street robberies and burglaries combined.

Health care fraud alone costs Americans $100 billion to $400 billion a year.

The savings and loan fraud -- which former Attorney General Dick Thornburgh called "the biggest white collar swindle in history" -- cost us anywhere from $300 billion to $500 billion.

And then you have your lesser frauds: auto repair fraud, $40 billion a year, securities fraud, $15 billion a year -- and on down the list.

Number 19. Corporate crime is often violent crime.

Recite this list of corporate frauds and people will immediately say to you: but you can't compare street crime and corporate crime -- corporate crime is not violent crime.

Not true.

Corporate crime is often violent crime.

The FBI estimates that, 16,000 Americans are murdered every year.

Compare this to the 56,000 Americans who die every year on the job or from occupational diseases such as black lung and asbestosis and the tens of thousands of other Americans who fall victim to the silent violence of pollution, contaminated foods, hazardous consumer products, and hospital malpractice.

These deaths are often the result of criminal recklessness. Yet, they are rarely prosecuted as homicides or as criminal violations of federal laws.

Source: AlterNet

June 13, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Veterans' Brain Injuries Need Surge In Proper Diagnosis

Category: The Latest Baddest

A government that can terribly mismanage a war of choice is perfectly capable of misdiagnosing injured veterans.

Misdiagnosing vets

Thousands of troops have been afflicted with traumatic brain injury. This occurs when on the battlefield when brain rattling explosions tear brain cells apart. What veterans are facing at home is misdiagnoses. Read the full article at the Boston Globe site.

Officials at the Pentagon and the Department of Veterans Affairs say that misdiagnosing mild TBI as PTSD is especially problematic because the two conditions are treated differently. Stress disorders are usually treated with counseling and anti anxiety or anti depression medications, while brain injuries typically require some combination of occupational, physical, and cognitive therapy.

From Boston.com

June 11, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Lucky Lady Gets Another Patient's Triple Bypass Surgery

Category: The Latest Baddest

Talk about luck. Sandy Baumgartner just happened to have cardiovascular problems remarkably similar to those of another patient whose angiogram was erroneously used during Sandy's triple bypass cardiac surgery.

We can file this with the wrong site surgeries when, luckily, the wrong site needed surgical attention anyway. And, with the medication errors when the prescribed medication probably was not that important to the patient.

Surgery, then a shock

Patient sues after film of another heart used in bypass operation

With her body still aching from triple bypass surgery, Sandy Baumgartner lay in a hospital bed talking with a nurse about her care. In the same room at Memorial Medical Center, her surgeon was talking with her husband about something unusual that had happened during the surgery a few days earlier.

Her husband, Gary Baumgartner, couldn't believe what he was hearing. The surgeon said he had operated on his wife while using a different patient's angiogram films.

The surgeon, Dr. Lit Fung of Modesto, told Gary Baumgartner he had sensed something was wrong near the end of the surgery and went to the catheterization lab, where he learned the mix-up had happened. Before the surgery, a hospital employee had loaded the angiogram films of a different patient into the operating room computer.

"He said that he threw a fit in the lab," Gary Baumgartner recalled. "I'm just flabbergasted. I'm thinking, 'It can't be.'"

He said Fung tried to reassure him that his wife's heart was very similar to the other patient's and that she should be fine.

Sandy Baumgartner, 58, of Turlock, said the hospital's risk management director came to her room later and said the same thing, that her coronary arteries were remarkably similar to the other patient's.

June 09, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Are Walter Reed Maintenance Workers Moonlighting On Indian Reservations?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Shirl Kennedy at Docuticker has spotlighted the latest degradation experienced by American Indians at the hands of the U.S. Government.

Health and Safety Deficiencies at Bureau of Indian Education Elementary and Secondary Schools

This report describes conditions at Bureau of Indian Education (BIE) schools that require immediate action to protect the health and safety of students and faculty.

We visited 13 schools as part of our Department-wide audit to determine if the Department of the Interior and its bureaus have effectively identified, prioritized, and mitigated health and safety deficiencies related to maintenance of their constructed infrastructure that could affect students, employees and the public. Although we have not yet completed this audit, we wanted to bring to your attention the serious health and safety deficiencies we identified at BIE schools.

We found severe deterioration at elementary and secondary schools, including boarding schools, that directly affects the health and safety of Indian children and their ability to receive an education. Deterioration ranged from minor deficiencies, such as leaking roofs, to severe deficiencies, such as classroom walls buckling and separating from their foundation. Other severe deficiencies included outdated electrical systems, inadequate fire detection and suppression systems, improperly maintained furnaces, and condemned school buildings that have not been torn down to remove the health and safety hazards. Some of these buildings have been condemned for over 10 years and are still not surrounded by protective fencing to prevent access to students.

These severe deficiencies have the potential to seriously injure or kill students and faculty and require immediate attention to mitigate the problems. This report highlights conditions at four schools in Arizona, including Chinle Boarding School, Kayenta Boarding School, Shonto Preparatory School and Keams Canyon Elementary School. The appendix describes conditions found at the other nine schools we visited.

Source: U.S. Department of the Interior, Office of Inspector General

The report contains graphic photos of many of the hazards.

My take on this situation is that there must not be enough votes to be earned from the Indian tribes to motivate politicians. Or, is it possible that the Walter Reed maintenance crew is handling these matters?

June 07, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Honey, Do You Know Where I Left The Gun?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Can it really be that hard to properly store guns in the home so that children won't shoot each other? Apparently, it is.

Most Guns in Homes With Young Kids Not Stored Safely

Almost one-fourth of 3,754 parents with young children -- surveyed at 96 pediatric practices in 45 states, Puerto Rico and Canada -- keep a gun at home. Yet in 70 percent of those homes with guns, parents said they hadn't taken adequate precautions to safely store the weapons, researchers report.

To try to prevent gun-related tragedies, 18 states have so-called child-access protection acts. These laws impose liability or criminal penalties on parents and adults where injuries or deaths have resulted from youngsters gaining access to unsecured guns, according to the Brady Campaign to Prevent Gun Violence.

But safe storage -- defined as guns being unloaded, locked in a cabinet or with a gun lock, with ammunition stored separately -- apparently isn't a widespread practice, the new research suggests.

Parents raised in gun-owning families were less likely to store firearms safely, according to the new study, published in the June issue of the journal Pediatrics.

And families who owned both handguns and long guns also were less likely to keep their guns locked up at home.

June 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Drug Company Rehabilitation Program For Wayward Doctors

Category: The Latest Baddest

At least the drug companies have not turned to illegal aliens to conduct their clinical trials - as far as we know.

Drug companies pay sanctioned doctors

The following editorial appeared in the Minneapolis Star Tribune on Tuesday, June 5:

You'd like to believe that the drugs prescribed to you and your loved ones are of the highest quality, that they've been tested and retested in clinical trials conducted by an elite corps of physicians with the highest level of competence and integrity, and that federal overseers are vigilant in protecting your best interests.

Unfortunately, that's not necessarily so, according to a New York Times investigation published on Sunday. Focusing on Minnesota, the paper found more than 100 doctors who had been disciplined or criticized by a medical board but who, nonetheless, had been paid by drug companies to conduct clinical trials or to promote certain medicines. At least two of those doctors had been convicted of criminal fraud. Altogether, drugmakers were found to have paid $1.7 million from 1997 to 2005 to 103 doctors who had been cited by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.

Source: FortWayne.com

June 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Attorney General Needs To Enforce An Anti-Boasting Policy

Category: The Latest Baddest

Boasting is not what it used to be. In these difficult political times, some listener is likely to repeat the boast to the enemy (read that as a member of the other political party). My assumption is that Bradley Schlozman, a DOJ attorney, failed to screen his audience. Worse, it seems he was a multiple careless boaster.

DOJ Official Admits to Boasting of Conservative Hires

Justice Department lawyer Bradley Schlozman looked very much like a man about to announce that he would be soon be pursuing opportunities in the private sector. Testifying this afternoon before the Senate Judiciary Committee as part of an ongoing investigation into the firings of nine U.S. attorneys and the politicization of Justice's career ranks, Schlozman told senators that as a top official in Justice's Civil Rights Division, he had bragged to others about hiring political conservatives to career positions in the division.

Schlozman said he did not take political loyalties into account when hiring career attorneys, which would be a violation of the Hatch Act. "I was not saying, 'I want conservatives,'" Schlozman said. However, when asked by Sen. Charles Schumer (D-N.Y.) whether he had boasted about bringing a large number of conservatives into the staff of the Civil Rights Division, Schlozman said: "I probably have made statements like that."

Source - The BLT: The Blog of Legal Times

June 04, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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U.S. Supreme Court Erases Another Punitive Award Without Even Breaking A Sweat

Category: The Latest Baddest

It has always bothered me when an appellate court sets aside a judgment for a Plaintiff without even writing an opinion. There is an arrogance and dismissive quality to the process that is an embarrassment to the legal system. It bothers me even more when the appellate court is the U.S. Supreme Court which, on the subject of punitive damages, has become the nation's giant eraser. We have now arrived at a place where every punitive damage award in the nation is likely to be bounced back for another try until the Gang of Nine in Washington decides the amount is acceptable.

US high court throws out compensation for accident victim

The US Supreme Court on Monday tossed out a ruling requiring Ford Motor Co. to pay 55 million dollars in punitive damages to a driver who was paralyzed in a rollover of her sport utility vehicle.

Without issuing an opinion, the justices sent the case back to a California appeals court to recalculate damages under new guidelines on punitive damages.

The high court in recent years has issued several ruling limiting punitive damage awards including one suggesting punitive awards are reasonable only if they are in "single-digit" multiples of compensatory damages. In another case, the court said a punitive award cannot be a punishment for harm to others.

June 02, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Decider Is Preparing To Excite His Base With Next Supreme Court Appointment

Category: The Latest Baddest

A president who did not prepare for an invasion and occupation of Iraq is now devoting his limited attention span to filling vacancies on the U.S. Supreme Court that might occur in the waning days of his administration. I would prefer he work on the bush clearing at the Texas ranch instead. A two year vacancy on the Supreme Court would be better than any Bush nominee.

EXCLUSIVE: Women, Minorities Top Bush's Supreme Court Short List

White House Prepares for Possible Vacancy as Court Nears Summer Break

By JAN CRAWFORD GREENBURG

The White House is developing a short list of possible Supreme Court nominees so President Bush can move swiftly if a justice retires at the end of June, when the Court breaks for its summer recess, according to sources involved in the selection process.

Bush met with top advisers [aka, Karl Rove] last month, and they discussed possible nominees if a Supreme Court vacancy occurs.

He told White House Counsel Fred Fielding and other administration lawyers that he wanted to nominate a woman or a minority to the Court, and his legal team has narrowed its focus to a half-dozen contenders, sources said.

With the heated political climate -- and with Bush's approval ratings still low -- advisers believe they cannot afford any missteps with the Supreme Court if a vacancy were to occur, sources said.

To that end, advisers are focusing on possible nominees who are believed to be solid judicial conservatives and would galvanize the base at a time when Bush desperately needs its support. [Making a lifetime appointment to the U.S. Supreme Court in order to galvanize a political base for a dead-ender president who is presiding over the ruins of an incompetent administration seems just about right for the mentality of these advisers.]

Conservatives who have grown disillusioned with Bush on Iraq, spending and immigration believe his nominations of Chief Justice John Roberts and Justice Samuel Alito are the one bright spot of his presidency. [And I thought his bright spot was the landing on the aircraft carrier.]

May 30, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Persistent Errors Of Chemotherapy To Children

Category: The Latest Baddest

You will not be happy to learn that the medical profession has a high rate of success...in accomplishing the administration of the wrong chemotherapy to children with cancer. Once the error occurs it makes it way to the patient 85% of the time. This is a degree of perserverance we can do without.

Most Errors in Pediatric Chemo Make It to Patients

The vast majority of potentially harmful errors in chemotherapy for children with cancer do find their way to these young patients, a new study finds. And they are more often caused by dispensing or administration mistakes than by prescribing mix-ups, the researchers found.

In total, 85 percent of these drug errors were not spotted until the child received the medication, according to a study led by Dr. Marlene Miller, associate professor of pediatrics at the Johns Hopkins School of Medicine, Baltimore. These errors do not always cause harm to the child, the authors added, but they are always worrisome.

Their analysis of the United States Pharmacopeia's voluntary medication error-reporting database, MEDMARX, also found that prescribing errors accounted for only 10 percent of cases occurring in patients under 18 years of age from 1999 to 2004. Instead, most of the mistakes arose from dispensing errors by pharmacy staff or administration blunders by nurses and other health care workers.

Surprisingly, prescribing errors accounted for just one in 10 cases. Most errors (48 percent) involved mistakes in administration, followed by errors in dispensing (30 percent). The most commonly cited types of error were mistakes in dose or quantity (23 percent), or time of administration (23 percent), followed by omission errors (that is, failing to deliver the drug at all, 14 percent) and improper administration technique or route (12 percent). By far the biggest cause of error was "performance deficit" -- human error -- at 41 percent.

May 29, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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"Queen For A Day" To "The Big Donor Show" - A Bridge Too Far

Category: The Latest Baddest

Media Law Prof Blog informs us that the television genre started by Queen for a Day approximately 50 years ago is still flourishing.

[I can still recall the sad life stories of each contestant vying to win the crown, velvet robe, washer & dryer and a night on the town.]

Terminally Ill Woman to Choose Recipient of Kidney on New Reality Show

A terminally ill woman will choose the recipient, one among three contestants, of one of her kidneys on Dutch TV, much to the dismay of many, including some members of the Dutch parliament. Creators of the program, called "The Big Donor Show," said it will highlight problems with the lack of organ donors.

Extreme Makeover: Home Edition, the most recent incarnation of this genre, may have met its match. The Big Donor Show not only has contestants pouring out their individual tales of woe in a competition to win the "prize" of a kidney but also has the kidney donor's terminal illness to ratchet up the pathos.

I suggest The Big Donor Show will, indeed, highlight problems - problems with the lack of taste and restraint of the program's producers.

May 28, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Why Docs Get Diagnosis Wrong 15% Of The Time

Category: The Latest Baddest

Approximately 15% of the time a doctor's diagnosis is wrong. (And, we haven't even gotten to errors in treatment yet.)

The Changing Nature Of Authority: Doctors

Medical doctors have long been considered paragons of authority and expertise in our society. Their authority derives from long, rigorous academic training and is refined through continual clinical practice. We should listen to doctors because they are the best chance we have to get a reliable diagnosis based on the best science available. Or are they?

In What's Wrong With Doctors, Richard Horton reviews How Doctors Think, a book by Jerome Groopman. The review points out that on average 15 percent of doctors diagnoses are inaccurate....

So, what causes this high error rate? See if you can spot your doctor in this list:

Doctors go wrong in many ways: they misapply evidence-based medicine; their training doesn't teach them how to learn from mistakes (actually they cant even admit when they make a mistake); they are susceptible to bribes and misinformation from big pharma; they are prone to a host of cognitive errors that they are unaware of-attribution error, availability error, search satisfying error, confirmation bias, diagnostic momentum, commission bias; they work in a system that rewards hurrying as many patients through as possible; and finally the classic-they don't listen to patients.

Let me repeat the last two items on the list. They work in a system that rewards hurrying as many patients through as possible; and finally the classic-they don't listen to patients.

If your doctor shows any of these signs and symptoms it may not be long before you or your surviving relatives need a lawyer. Do yourself a favor and find another doctor.

May 24, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Crossing The Line Replaces Walking The Line At Justice Department

Category: The Latest Baddest

I crossed the line watching the testimony of Monica Goodling yesterday. I now believe nobody in the Justice Department headquarters knows what the law is, what their precise job duties are, who was running the place and how to provide factual accounts of important events to the public or Congress.

Goodling Says She 'Crossed the Line'

Ex-Justice Aide Criticizes Gonzales While Admitting to Basing Hires on Politics

A former senior aide to Attorney General Alberto R. Gonzales leveled serious new accusations against him and his deputy yesterday, describing an "uncomfortable" attempt by Gonzales to discuss the firings of U.S. attorneys as Congress and the Justice Department were intensifying their investigations of the issue.

Monica M. Goodling, who resigned last month as Gonzales's senior counselor and White House liaison, also told the House Judiciary Committee yesterday that she "crossed the line" by using political criteria in hiring a wide array of career professionals at Justice, including looking up political donations by some applicants. [Based on the combined testimony of the top management at the Department of Justice it appears "line dancing" may be a regular noontime activity.]

Goodling, 33, alleged that Deputy Attorney General Paul J. McNulty was "not fully candid" with Congress about his knowledge of White House involvement in the firings. McNulty, who tendered his resignation last week, disputed that.

Under intensive questioning from Rep. Artur Davis (D-Ala.), Goodling also described a mid-March meeting with Gonzales that began as a discussion of her future at Justice but ended with talk about the U.S. attorneys' firings.

"Let me tell you what I can remember," he said, according to her account.

"He laid out for me his general recollection . . . of some of the process" of the firings and then asked "if I had any reaction to his iteration," Goodling said.

She said the conversation made her "a little uncomfortable" because she knew that she, Gonzales and others would be asked to testify before Congress.

"Do you think, Ms. Goodling, the attorney general was trying to shape your recollection?" Davis asked.

Goodling paused, then said: "No . . . I just did not know if it was a conversation that we should be having, and so I just -- just didn't say anything."

She added that she thought Gonzales was only "being kind."

It may be that Alberto Gonzales' only redeeming character trait is his reported kindness.

May 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctor, Are You Snoring?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Would any hospital patient want to be diagnosed and treated by a doctor in his 23rd consecutive hour of work? Apparently, medical residents are required at times to put in a triple shift and an 80 hour work week. Severe sleepiness is the diagnosis of the condition of the residents according to a recent study. Will the medical profession just reply with a yawn?

Approved Medical Resident Hours Still Resulting In Sleepy Doctors

Medical residents working within the mandated maximum of 80 hours per week experience severe sleepiness, a finding that may have implications for both patient care and resident safety, according to a new study presented at the American Thoracic Society 2007 International Conference, on Sunday, May 20.

Previous studies have shown that sleep-deprived residents perform poorly in several areas like judgment and concentration and are at risk for motor vehicle accidents. There have been several instances where sleep-deprived residents have committed serious mistakes in patient care. This led the ACGME (Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education), in 2003, to limit their work hours to not more than 80 hours a week and 24 hours at a stretch. The impact of this standard has not been well studied.

May 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Physician, Heal Thyself - Please!

Category: The Latest Baddest

The supposedly superior private healthcare system in the U.S., the one that everyone says makes us the envy of the industrialized world, needs to focus on the third leading cause of death - the medical profession.

Doctors Are The Third Leading Cause of Death in the US

According to Dr. Barbara Starfield of the Johns Hopkins School of Hygiene and Public Health, 250,000 deaths per year are caused by medical errors, making this the third-largest cause of death in the U.S., following heart disease and cancer.

Writing in the Journal of the American Medical
Association
(JAMA), Dr. Starfield has documented the tragedy of
the traditional medical paradigm in the following statistics:

ALL THESE ARE DEATHS PER YEAR:

12,000 -- unnecessary surgery
7,000 -- medication errors in hospitals
20,000 -- other errors in hospitals
80,000 -- infections in hospitals
106,000 -- non-error, negative effects of drugs
These total to 250,000 deaths per year from iatrogenic causes!!

Trial Lawyers have been doing their best to correct the situation, but apparently the docs and their helpers still have the upper hand.

May 17, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Can Pharmacists Believe Everything They Read?

Category: The Latest Baddest

OnThePharm has an interesting exercise that may partly explain why there are so many prescription errors.

Can you read these prescriptions? (Round 2)

[Take a minute to study these handwritten gems.]

Remember there's more to a prescription than the drug. You need to get:

Drug name
strength
directions
quantity
number of refills

[See if the prescriptions do the job.]

The problem with an illegible prescription is that it may not be perceived as illegible by the filling pharmacy. In other words, depending on the phase of the moon the pharmacist can "read" just about any prescription if he tries hard enough. But, will his "read" be what was intended to be written?

Is it time to put our quills away and turn to typing prescriptions?

February 21, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctor/Defendants Leap To Aid Of Moaning Juror

Category: The Latest Baddest

I have had the pleasure of the nurse/defendant who showed up at trial every single day wearing an immaculate white nursing outfit including that cute little cap, but I have never experienced what occurred in the Charlie Weis medical malpractice trial this week. Forbes Magazine provides the details.

Weis' Malpractice Case Declared Mistrial

A judge declared a mistrial Tuesday in Notre Dame coach Charlie Weis' medical malpractice lawsuit after a juror collapsed and several doctors - including the two defendants - rushed to his aid.

The juror, an older man, began moaning as he listened to an expert testifying in defense of Massachusetts General Hospital surgeons Charles Ferguson and Richard Hodin. Weis claims they botched his care after gastric bypass surgery in June 2002.

The judge immediately ordered the other jurors out of the courtroom, but some saw Ferguson, Hodin and other doctors who were in the courtroom rush to the collapsed juror's aid.

An attorney for Weis said it was with "great reluctance" that he ask for the mistrial in the case that was expected to go to the jury Wednesday.

"I cannot think of an instance there would be more reason than when a juror has this kind of incident," attorney Michael Mone said.

A lawyer for the doctors said a mistrial would be unfair to the surgeons, who had rearranged their schedules to accommodate Weis, who is in the offseason for football.

Judge Charles Spurlock, however, agreed to grant a mistrial.

By the way, sometimes listening to the testimony of defense experts makes me moan, too.

February 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Turn To Page Five For The Definition Of A Hostile Workplace

Category: The Latest Baddest

Occasionally one lawsuit can serve as a primer on a particuiar subject. Today, I have a nominee for the subject of a hostile workplace. This workplace may set a marker that will last for years.

Employees Sue Vision Care Charity for Discrimination

One of Santa Barbara's most important and distinctive charities, Surgical Eye Expeditions International (SEE), has been hit with a lawsuit by four employees - one of whom has since been fired - who are accusing the organization of racial discrimination and harassment.

Although the supervisor they accused of using racial slurs left the job in November, the plaintiffs claim that their complaints garnered continuing defamation, harassment, and other retaliation from members of the organization's board of directors.

The lawsuit, filed in mid January, describes a hostile workplace in which people had to listen to a white supervisor use crude racial epithets, including "nigger" and "stupid Mexicans" to describe clients and coworkers. Three of the plaintiffs are Hispanic; one is black. When the plaintiffs complained to the human resources director, who is Asian, the supervisor against whom the complaints were filed then allegedly said of the human resources director, "I hate that little chink, or Jap, or whatever he is." The same supervisor allegedly called another employee "white trash," made jokes about Jews, and referred to a Chumash leader as "Chief Powwow."

February 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctors Without Scruples

Category: The Latest Baddest

So you think you and your doctor form a team dedicated to your best medical interests and good health. Well, you may have to think again.

Many doctors stay mum on controversial care: study

BOSTON (Reuters) - Do not always expect straight talk from your doctor about treatments he or she disapproves of -- 14 percent of physicians believe it is acceptable to withhold information about topics such as birth control, abortion and sedating dying patients, according to a study published on Wednesday.

In addition, 29 percent feel no obligation to tell patients where they can go to get that care.

Most of the 1,144 U.S. doctors who responded to the poll, accord to a report in the New England Journal of Medicine, supported full disclosure and referral to another health care provider if they had moral objections to a treatment or procedure.

"If physicians' ideas translate into their practices, then 14 percent of patients -- more than 40 million Americans -- may be cared for by physicians who do not believe they are obligated to disclose information about medically available treatments they consider objectionable," Dr. Farr Curlin of the University of Chicago and colleagues wrote.

"In addition, 29 percent of patients -- or nearly 100 million Americans -- may be cared for by physicians who do not believe they have an obligation to refer the patient to another provider for such treatments."

Men, Christian doctors and physicians with the strongest religious beliefs were most likely to say it is permissible to withhold information and not help a patient find another source of controversial care.

Those doctors who practice silence whenever they have a moral or religious objection to an available treatment should display a prominent "speak no evil" monkey image on their chest. This symbol could become the universal sign of a medical provider who puts his or her own beliefs ahead of the need for full disclosure of medical options.

February 06, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Pediatricians Are Failing In Honesty

Category: The Latest Baddest

Less than 40% of pediatricians feel medical errors are being disclosed to parents. I would grade that as an F.

Pediatricians: Error-Reporting Systems are Inadequate

Most pediatricians endorse reporting medical errors to hospitals and disclosing them to patients' families, but only 39% thought that current error-reporting systems are adequate, according to survey results reported today in the Archives of Pediatrics and Adolescent Medicine.

"The current failure of hospital reporting systems to capture information about errors from physicians impedes efforts to accurately characterize the epidemiology of pediatric medical errors and to improve the safety of hospitalized children," the authors declared.

Although medical errors are frequent among hospitalized children, most current research on error reporting and disclosure has examined physicians treating adults, according to researchers.

The pediatric environment poses a "unique challenge" in error reporting because a third party--the patient's parents--must be included in the conversation, investigators noted.

While I agree it is very necessary to include the child's parents in the conversation I fail to see how this creates a "unique challenge" in error reporting. An error is an error and it should be reported to the responsible adults. I assume it is not being reported exclusively to six-year-olds. Maybe it is being whispered to parish priests in the confessional. Or, entered in Top Secret logbooks at insurance companies.

By the way, don't you love the term "Error-Reporting Systems"? Is that a part of the "Error-Producing Systems"?

February 01, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The New Maytag Dishwasher/Fireplace

Category: The Latest Baddest

The Maytag repairman will not be so lonely anymore.

Maytag, Jenn-Air Dishwashers Recalled

Maytag is recalling about 2.3 million Maytag and Jenn-Air brand dishwashers because of a fire hazard.

Liquid rinse-aid can leak from its dispenser and come into contact with the dishwasher's internal wiring which can short-circuit and ignite, posing a fire hazard, the company said.

Maytag has received 135 reports of dishwasher fires, resulting in product and/or property damage. Four injuries have been reported, including three reports of smoke inhalation and one serious hand laceration when operating a fire extinguisher to put out a fire in the dishwasher.

Consumers should contact Maytag to determine if their dishwasher is included in this recall.

The units were sold by department and appliance stores and by homebuilders nationwide from July 1997 through June 2001 for between $370 and $800.

After this news of dishwasher fires will bathtub fires be next?

January 20, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Will Appellate Judges Work In Their Bathrobes?

Category: The Latest Baddest

I have never made an appellate argument on behalf of a death row inmate. My legal practice at the appellate level has always been on the civil side of things. Even so, I have to say that Howard J. Bashman's article about the AWOL Appellate Judges is very troubling?

Did 9th Circuit Judges Go AWOL From Oral Argument?

Henry Weinstein, who covers the 9th Circuit for The Los Angeles Times, reported last week that when a three-judge 9th Circuit panel recently conducted another oral argument on death row inmate Kevin Cooper's challenge to his conviction and sentence, none of the three appellate judges was physically present in San Francisco where the oral argument was taking place.

How was the oral argument conducted?

According to the article, two of the judges -- M. Margaret McKeown of San Diego and Ronald M. Gould of Seattle -- participated in the oral argument via videoconferencing, while the most senior judge on the panel, Pamela Ann Rymer of Pasadena, participated via telephone because her videoconferencing connection was not functioning.

[If the telephone connection had failed would text messaging been used?]

Howard's interesting review of the issue leaves me with the impression that AWOL Appellate Judges may become the norm over time. Although I might accept this technological solution to busy calendars or travel difficulties in a civil appeal, I cannot believe a society which is preparing the death chamber would show such callousness to a defendant.

Would these same AWOL judges accept jurors in their own bribery case [yes, judges do occasionally take bribes] who simply appear from their respective homes via video conferencing? I seriously doubt it.

January 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Pentagon Needs To Stop The Killing Due To Preventable Medical Errors

Category: The Latest Baddest

The Pentagon is faced with one problem which parallels what is going on in civilian life- the devastating impact of preventable medical errors. Stars & Stripes tells the story.

Military takes closer look at preventing medical error

Six years ago, the Pentagon's budget called for a new office within the military dedicated to tracking, correcting and preventing medical errors that jeopardize patient safety.

The timing in creating the Patient Safety Program was no accident, according to military health officials.

In the previous year, nationwide surveys showed that 70 percent of patients didn't trust their health care providers, according to the Pentagon's Center for Education and Research in Patient Safety.

Another study estimated at least 46,000 people died each year from medical errors, according to Howard S. Steed, deputy director of the center. "That's every year," he stressed Thursday during a break at a patient safety conference at the Officers Club on Yokosuka Naval Base.

In a hospital setting, a nurse or aide questioning a doctor can prove challenging. In the military, rank is added to that imbalance, center staff said. One of the major goals in reporting and preventing medical mistakes is encouraging lower-ranking servicemembers to question their superiors when a patient's well-being is at stake.

The thought that fear of the military's chain of command could be interfering with the obligation of every health care provider to assure the best treatment for each patient is frightening.

I would also suggest another major goal - encouraging the superiors to order changes in practices and conduct which are causing the most common medical errors. If you can order men into battle you should be able to order them to prevent common medical errors or face consequences.

January 19, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Hospital Stay From Hell

Category: The Latest Baddest

Lisa Lindell has posted on TortDeform a first person account of a hospital stay that went very, very wrong. Here are some excerpts:

Hospitals Are Not As Safe As You Think They Are

I was baptized by fire during my husband's 108-day hospitalization. He was admitted to one of the finest hospitals in our country following a burn injury.

I knew he was in a great facility because I have absorbed all the PR and advertising touting their wonderful and caring treatment for years. We were humbled and grateful he was being treated there.

The reality is quite a bit different. As an accountant I had no medical experience but trusted he was in good hands. That trust was slowly eroded by repeated instances of their failure to provide even the most basic care adequately. Obvious signs of decline in the patient were ignored and he was left to rot. Additional complications and threats to his survival continued to be heaped upon him by reckless and sloppy medical care. The entire experience quickly became a battle for his life; my sister and I vs. the healthcare providers.

If there were a deadly organism in your child's school the building would be evacuated and sterilized. If I showed my husband the same level of neglect at home, I'd have a criminal record. Why does this continue to be allowed in our healthcare facilities? Surgical site errors, drug errors, misdiagnosis, mistakes, recklessness; who's protecting us? There's no incentive to deliver quality care to the patient and nobody is accountable to the patient.

The regulatory and accreditation facilities aren't working for you, they're working for their customer, the hospital. Physicians are accountable to their insurance carrier or attorney, everybody except you. The hospital is guided by their bottom-line, not taking care of you. Nurses are overhead and the fewer they can put on the floor, the better. Have healthcare costs declined as a result of malpractice caps? I didn't think so.

My husband survived, no thanks to world-class medical care. I'm sure they chalk him up in the "win" column, when in reality his hospital experience was a total failure and the most terrifying experience of my life. If he would have died, it would have been classified as "complications" from his injury when in fact it would have been as a result of his treatment. Our healthcare system is in crisis and it's only a matter of time before you or yours need care, be prepared for hard work.

January 10, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Now They Are Slanting Our Beverage Studies

Category: The Latest Baddest

The funding source of research is likely to impact the final conclusions. No big surprise to me. This rather obvious situation has been found to exist even in beverage studies. Sound the alarm!!

Where can someone go to get the truth about Bud Light?

On Nutritious Drink Studies, Consider the Funding Source

Before you take to heart any research about the health effects of beverages such as milk, fruit juice or soft drinks [and light beer?], find out who paid for the study.

If a beverage manufacturer or industry group funded the research, the finding may be biased, researchers report.

"When a food company sponsors a study, it is much more likely to be positive" about the health effects of the product, said Dr. David Ludwig. He's the study's senior author and director of the Optimal Weight for Life program at Children's Hospital Boston, the pediatric teaching hospital for Harvard Medical School.

Ludwig and his colleagues analyzed 206 articles from medical journals that evaluated the health benefits or effects of soft drinks, juice and milk [and light beer?]. The studies were published from 1999 to 2003.

Of the 206 studies, 111 supplied information on funding. To prevent bias in Ludwig's review, one researcher selected the articles for inclusion in the study. Another two researchers who were not told the funding sources classified each study as favorable, not favorable or neutral toward the beverage studied. A fourth researcher who didn't know the conclusions of the study determined the funding source and classified the studies, based on whether they would be beneficial, negative or neutral to the funder's bottom line.

In all, 22 percent of the studies were funded totally by industry, while 32 percent had both industry and independent funding.

"We found when a food company pays for a study, the results are about eight times more likely to be favorable to the company's financial interest than when the studies are funded independently," Ludwig said. "It is a strong association. It raises concern for bias."

The same association has been found in studies of medications funded by drug companies, Ludwig said. But, he added, bias in studies of beverages could have a greater impact because nearly everyone drinks milk, juices or soft drinks.

I am not sure about Ludwig's last conclusion. Somehow slanted drug studies still strikes me as more likely to cause serious harm. But, maybe I do not appreciate what the slanted beverage studies are hiding.

January 08, 2007

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Note To New Employee: Be Sure To Buy A Ventilator

Category: The Latest Baddest

Tennessee Ernie Ford used to sing a song about coal mining. I believe it was Sixteen Tons, and the punch line was that all the worker got at the end of the day was "another day older and deeper in debt."

In some jobs today it appears the workers would celebrate the fact they were another day older.

Insurance Journal tells us how some employers, with the acquiescence of the Bush Administration, save money on personal safety equipment.

Labor Groups Sue to Force Employers to Pay for Safety Equipment

The AFL-CIO has joined with the breakaway United Food and Commercial Workers in suing the Labor Department to force adoption of a rule requiring employers to pay for personal safety equipment for workers.

The Occupational Safety and Health Administration rule, proposed in 1999 but never adopted in final form, would require employers to pay for protective clothing and other equipment used by millions of workers to protect them from job hazards.

"The Department of Labor held hearings, took comments and then put it on the back burner,'' said Peg Seminario, safety and health director for the AFL-CIO. "There's a clear-cut requirement that employers pay for it. But some employers are not paying, especially in industries with low-wage workers or unrepresented workers.''

The lawsuit claims that the Bush administration's failure to act on the OSHA proposal is endangering workers. The labor groups say that workers in some of the country's industries such as meatpacking, poultry and construction are vulnerable to being forced by their employers to pay for their own safety gear.

December 20, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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What Hospitals Don't See (Or Don't Report Seeing)

Category: The Latest Baddest

In the Hear No Evil, Speak No Evil mode of hospital administration:

Hospitals Miss Most Patient Safety Incidents

Hospital reporting systems may significantly under-report patient safety incidents, particularly those resulting in harm, warns a study published on bmj.com.

December 20, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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And The Board Of Directors Did Not Object

Category: The Latest Baddest

"Does any board member object to us backdating these stock option grants to ourselves?"

Backdating Not Limited To Execs: Study

About 460 public companies manipulated stock options grants not only for their executives, but also for their outside directors, according to a new study by Harvard Law School.

The study, the first of its kind to examine directors and not just executives, could explain why more boards didn't act to stop the activity.

December 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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NIH Scientist Receives Pfizer Bucks

Category: The Latest Baddest

Pfizer Inc. apparently provides special compensation for senior government scientists working for the National Institutes of Health. The compensation program has been recognized by federal prosecutors with a conflict of interest award in the name of one recipient, Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III.

Federal scientist admits he's guilty of conflict of interest

BALTIMORE -- A senior government scientist from the National Institutes of Health who took about $300,000 in unauthorized payments from a drug company pleaded guilty Friday to a federal charge that he committed a criminal conflict of interest.

The admission by Dr. P. Trey Sunderland III came after years of denials by his attorneys and six months after the scientist had asserted his constitutional right against self-incrimination to a congressional subcommittee.

Sunderland, 55, admitted that he failed to get required authorization for taking $285,000 in consulting fees and $15,000 in expense payments from the drug company Pfizer Inc. from 1998 to 2003. During the same period, he provided Pfizer with spinal-tap samples collected from hundreds of patients as part of a research collaboration approved by the NIH.

After the hearing Friday, U.S. Atty. Rod J. Rosenstein told reporters that Sunderland's actions were a breach of the public trust.

"This case is not about an honest mistake," Rosenstein said. "If a government employee is actually on the payroll of a company that benefits from its dealings with the United States, there's a chance that that employee's financial interest will affect his or her official actions."

Unaddressed at the hearing was how the guilty plea might affect Sunderland's employment.

Let's see if we can come up with a plan to deal with Sunderland's employment. Should he be given a larger staff or a bigger office? How about a longer vacation?

December 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Gov. Haley Barbour Creates Market For School Ashtrays

Category: The Latest Baddest

Can a tobacco lobbyist change his spots?

Former Tobacco Lobbyist Turned Governor Kills Statewide Anti-Smoking Program

Mississippi Gov. Haley Barbour, a former tobacco industry lobbyist, won a long battle in court to withdraw all funding for Mississippi's highly successful anti-smoking program, and last week the last dollar ran out.

"This is truly a case of one man, a longtime tobacco industry lobbyist, using his power to destroy a program that was reducing tobacco use among Mississippi's kids," said Matthew Myers, President of the Campaign for Tobacco-Free Kids, a national nonprofit organization.

In a report to be issued Wednesday, the group documents what it calls Barbour's "relentless attack" on what it said was the nation's most successful anti-smoking program.

From ABC News Blog

Will the Haley Barbour ashtrays be distributed to the Mississippi school restrooms?

December 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Urologists Have This Very Expensive New Money Machine

Category: The Latest Baddest

When your urologist recommends I.M.R.T. as the treatment for your prostrate cancer you may need to review his financial statement.

Greedy doctors will do anything to get your money

The nearly 240,000 men in the United States who will learn they have prostate cancer this year have one more thing to worry about: Are their doctors making treatment decisions on the basis of money as much as medicine?

Among several widely used treatments for prostate cancer, one stands out for its profit potential. The approach, a radiation therapy known as I.M.R.T., can mean reimbursement of $47,000 or more a patient.

That is many times the fees that urologists make on other accepted treatments for the disease, which include surgery and radioactive seed implants. And it may help explain why urologists have started buying multimillion-dollar I.M.R.T. equipment and software, and why many more are investigating it as a way to increase their incomes.

Already, dozens of the nation's 10,000 urologists have purchased the technology for intensity modulated radiation therapy, which is what I.M.R.T. stands for, and some of them are recommending its use for growing numbers of their patients.

Critics see a potential conflict of interest on the part of urologists, the specialists who typically help prostate patients choose a course of treatment. The critics say that urologists who can profit from the new form of therapy may be less likely to recommend other proven approaches, which for some older men can involve forgoing treatment altogether.

Urologists who have purchased the new multiple beam systems say they are embracing a superior way to treat prostate cancer. But because there is little research directly comparing I.M.R.T. with the other treatments, there is little consensus among urologists about which approach is best.

That is why some doctors worry that I.M.R.T. may be emerging as yet another example of the way financial incentives can influence medical decisions in this nation's for-profit health care economy.

The one certainty about I.M.R.T. is that for doctors who own the technology, it can be much more lucrative than alternative treatments. Medicare and other insurers typically pay urologists only $2,000 or less for performing surgery to remove the prostate or for implanting radioactive seeds. The insurers say the much higher I.M.R.T. payments, which in some cases exceed $50,000, are based on the technology's cost.

December 01, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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One Third Of Hospital Review Board Members Have Conflicts Of Interest

Category: The Latest Baddest

MSNBC has posed a question that is easy to answer in one word.

Hospital boards too closely tied to industry

Panels that oversee experiments tainted by conflicts of interest, study finds

A survey of hospital review boards that watchdog experiments on patients shows that one in three members takes money from companies that make drugs and medical devices that come under study.

What's more, many of those with conflicts rarely or never disclose their financial ties, researchers found.

The question: Do medical researchers always act in the best interest of science -- or patients -- if they are also getting royalties, consulting fees or other benefits from the makers of the products being tested?

The answer: NO.

November 22, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Payola Lives In Medical Journals

Category: The Latest Baddest

A new absurdity in medical journals is highlighted by Roy M. Poses, MD at Health Care Renewal.

"Sponsored Editorials?"

The blog Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry: A Closer Look just noticed a new phenomenon, the "sponsored editorial." Apparently, these have appeared in the July and November issues of the Journal of Clinical Psychiatry's paper edition (although not on the web). A jpeg reproduction appears in this Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry post.

The "sponsored editorial" itself features clinical bullet points on akasthisia, and two pull quotes, in a large type face, from suffering patients. On the bottom appears the AstraZeneca logo. No authors are listed.

I want to second Clinical Psychology and Psychiatry's blogger's motion that by printing this as an editorial, albeit "sponsored," the journal appears to be endorsing a marketing message as if it were substantive content....Misleading physicians by disguising advertising, in this case, as editorial content in a peer-reviewed journal, is liable to distort their medical decision making, and hence is bad for both them and their patients.

October 31, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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School Safety Drill Goes For A Realistic Experience

Category: The Latest Baddest

I presume this Michigan school principal would have started a fire to make a fire drill as realistic as possible.

School Safety Drill Upsets Some Parents

WYOMING, Mich. (AP) -- A school safety drill that included police officers in riot gear with weapons has caused concern among some parents who say it was too realistic and frightened some students.

Police in the western Michigan community of Wyoming entered two classrooms at Lee Middle and High School on Thursday and announced there was a threat to the school, The Grand Rapids Press reported.

Students, who were unaware police were conducting a drill, were taken from the classroom into the halls, patted down by officers and asked what they had in their pockets, the newspaper said.

"Some of these kids were so scared, they just about wet their pants," said Marge Bradshaw, a parent with four children in Godfrey-Lee Schools. "I think it's pure wrong that the students and parents were not informed of this."

Officers wore protective gear, including vests and helmets, and carried rifles that were unloaded and marked with colored tape to indicate they were not live weapons, the newspaper said.

Principal David Britten said students weren't told ahead of time to make the drill as realistic as possible. Teachers were informed moments before it took place, he said.

Now they can bring in the counselors who should have some very realistic emotional scars to treat.

October 13, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Michigan Welcomes Snake Oil

Category: The Latest Baddest

Personal responsibility apparently stops at the front door of drug manufacturers in the State of Michigan. Defective drugs cost all of us but not pharmaceutical companies.

They Break It - We Buy It

Even before there was a Pottery Barn, there was "The Pottery Barn Rule" - you break it, you buy it. It's a fair rule. It epitomizes personal responsibility by forcing a careless person to pay for the consequences of his or her carelessness. In short, it's just the sort of rule you would think the tort reform lobby would support. Instead, the American Tort Reform Association is trying to save a perverted "You break it, they buy it" rule currently in effect in Michigan.

As Henry Greenspan explains in his excellent article, Michigan pharmaceutical companies are completely immune from product liability suits in the state of Michigan. That's not a misprint. The thousands of Michigan citizens who have been injured or killed by fen-phen, Vioxx, and other defective drugs cannot sue the pharmaceutical company that manufactured it. This is so even if the drug is recalled by the manufacturer or the FDA because it's defective! Even if an unquestionably defective drug unquestionably causes the injury or death of a Michigan citizen, the pharmaceutical company is unquestionably immune from suit. The pharmaceuticals don't even have to pay the medical bills of the injured consumer. So if the company that "broke it" doesn't have to "buy it" who does?

Thank you, Justinian.

Snake oil may soon replace automobiles on Michigan's manufacturing list.

October 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Did Swiftboating Take Down Hamdan's Navy Defense Attorney?

Category: The Latest Baddest

What a coincidence! The Navy lawyer who led a successful Supreme Court challenge of the Bush administration's military tribunals for Guantanamo detainees has been passed over for promotion and will have to leave the military.

Detainee's lawyer out of job after win

Lt. Cmdr. Charles Swift, 44, will retire in March or April under the military's "up or out" promotion system.

Swift said last week he was notified he would not be promoted to full-blown Navy commander. He said the notification came about two weeks after the Supreme Court sided with him and against the White House in the case involving Salim Ahmed Hamdan, a Yemeni and alleged al Qaeda member who was Osama bin Laden's driver.

"Charlie has obviously done an exceptional job, a really extraordinary job," said Marine Col. Dwight Sullivan, the Pentagon's chief defense counsel for Military Commissions.

Sullivan added it was "quite a coincidence" that Swift was passed over for a promotion "within two weeks of the Supreme Court opinion."

The coincidental "firing" of Lt. Cmdr. Swift could be a variation of the swiftboating political strategy during the 2004 presidential campaign. It is hard to imagine what terrible evils were ascribed to Swift in his official Navy review.

October 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Gentleman From Florida Needs To Name The Man Of The Cloth

Category: The Latest Baddest

I hate to bother Rep. Mark Foley during his alcohol rehabilitation program, but he should attend to one matter of importance with a single email or instant message. It doesn't have to be a long message. All it has to do is identify the clergyman who abused him as a child.

Law Blogger Joseph Saunders brought this obligation to my attention.

Rep. Mark Foley Needs to Disclose the Identity of His Abuser

If Rep. Mark Foley was the victim of a crime, he needs to identify the perpetrator in order to protect other minors. It's not enough that he's disclosed that he's a victim of sexual abuse, he needs to prevent future abuse by naming his accuser.

Of course, while he is at it, Rep. Foley could also identify any fellow members of Congress who used the page program as a supplier of fresh victims each year.

September 30, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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An Eye Surgeon Who Lost His Way And His Case

Category: The Latest Baddest

This will be a test to see if former eye surgeon Bradley Schwartz of Arizona was wise to settle this medical malpractice case instead of taking his defense to a jury? Hint - there is a reason he is former eye surgeon Bradley Schwartz.

The facts are provided by this story in the Arizona Daily Star.

Suit against Schwartz settled

A malpractice case scheduled to go to trial next week against former eye surgeon Bradley Schwartz has been settled. Attorney Greg Wasley, who represents Eduardo and Delia Valenzuela, said the lawsuit was settled Wednesday, but the terms are confidential. The Valenzuelas sued Schwartz in January 2004 on behalf of their son, who was born in October 1994 with congenital cataracts.

The couple alleged that when Schwartz performed an intraocular lens implant in November 2000, he didn't tell them he was addicted to prescription drugs. They also said Schwartz failed to notice the retina in the boy's right eye detached six months later and believe Schwartz's drug problems were a contributing factor. Wasley said that by the time Dr. David Brian Stidham [Remember this name.] diagnosed the detached retina in February 2003, it was too late to repair it and the boy lost sight in that eye.

Schwartz's attorney, Tom Slutes, said Schwartz last examined the boy in June 2002 and the retina was not detached. He also said Schwartz had stopped using drugs six months before that, which drug-analysis tests would have confirmed at trial.

Both attorneys said the decision to settle was made because one can never tell what a jury will do. [I can tell what any jury would have done in this case. Read on.]

In addition, Slutes said there was some concern Schwartz might not have been able to find impartial jurors in Pima County. [Impartial jurors would not have helped Schwartz. Read on.]

Schwartz was convicted in May of conspiracy to commit first-degree murder in the October 2004 slaying of Stidham. His medical license was revoked and he is serving a life sentence with parole possible after 25 years. [Do you think even impartial jurors may have thought Schwartz was a really bad actor?]

The man prosecutors believe was hired by Schwartz to actually carry out the slaying, Ronald Bruce Bigger, is to go to trial in January.

September 26, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Conspiracy Of Silence May Be When You Are Handed A New Prescription

Category: The Latest Baddest

About 35% of the time possible adverse side effects are mentioned by physicians providing a prescription for a drug new to a patient. Is it any wonder patients do not know when they are experiencing them?

Study: Doctors Don't Explain Rx Drugs

Americans are taking more and more prescription drugs, but their doctors are doing a poor job of communicating critical information about the medications they prescribe, UCLA researchers report.

In a study that included surveys of both doctors and patients, as well as taped transcripts of actual office visits, the researchers concluded that all too often doctors did not tell their patients why they were prescribing specific medications.

They also frequently failed to tell them about the potential adverse side effects of the drugs they prescribed, or even the names of the drugs.

Poor communications between doctors and their patients can lead to easily avoidable prescription drug misuses, including drug overdoses and underuse.

The study used taped conversations between doctors and patients to uncover this gem in the history of doctor-patient communications:

One taped exchange, which the UCLA family practitioner described as an extreme example of the tendency toward "spotty communication" proceeded as follows:

Physician: "If I'm writing antibiotics, are you allergic to penicillin?"

Patient: "No, I'm not allergic to anything."

Physician: "Okey dokey."

Nothing is "Okey dokey." about the failure of many doctors to properly explain drugs to patients. The physician is supposedly the "learned intermediary" between the drug manufacturer and the patient. It is his job to tell the patient (A) The name of the medication, and whether the drug is a trade medication or generic (B) Why the drug is being prescribed (C)How, when, and how long to take the medication (D)The drug's possible adverse side effects and what to do if side effects occur (E) When to expect the medication to work, and how to tell if it is working and (F)Foods, herbal supplements, and other medications that should be avoided while taking the drug.

Is this another Conspiracy of Silence?

September 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Cheap, Heartless And Stupid - The New Look Of Health Insurance?

Category: The Latest Baddest

I have been thinking of ways to convey to the public how cheap, heartless, and stupid insurance companies often are. Then, deposited into my computer comes this from Managed Care Matters:

Insurers' self-inflicted wounds

In yet another example of self-inflicted trauma, an insurer has been accused of illegally canceling health insurance policies for individuals with serious medical conditions.

This time it is Blue Cross of California. According to the story in the LA Times, a family's coverage was canceled by Blue Cross after the insurer uncovered inconsistencies in their insurance application, inconsistencies which, according to Blue Cross, would have caused them to deny coverage for the family.

So let's say the insurer acted appropriately, which in this case appears dubious. But set that aside; health insurers, which aren't exactly beloved by the American consumer, look cheap, heartless, and stupid for this type of decision.

I'll just step out of the way so you can read the article over a few times.

September 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Should Law Blogs Be Designated As ATTORNEY ADVERTISING?

Category: The Latest Baddest

New York May Define Law Blogs As Advertising according to a post at WebProNews.

Another indication that the law is struggling to keep up with technology in a useful way, proposed restrictions in New York could prevent lawyers from setting blogs about law.

Greg Beck, who runs a legal blog called Consumer Law and Policy Blog reports the new restrictions would regard any public communication by a lawyer about a lawyer as advertisements. Therefore they must follow legal advertising rules.

The rules require phrases like "Attorney Advertising" to appear on the blog and for a hard copy of each post (and subsequent changes, which would include comments) to be put on file for a year and sent to the state.

But Beck points out that the new rules contain a definition of advertising so broad that websites, IMs, and emails could even be considered as public communication.

To be on the safe side since my blog can be accessed by New Yorkers, here is my required public warning - ATTORNEY ADVERTISING.

Now my question regarding the warning - Is everything I ever say in public also required to be somehow designated ATTORNEY ADVERTISING?

September 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Low Fines In Worker Deaths Are Probably Just Fine With Employer

Category: The Latest Baddest

We could draw the conclusion that if a serious safety breach caused the death of 30 workers, the Iowa employer's fine would have been $30,000. Confined Space explains why Iowa workers may be falling 1,200 feet to their deaths from television towers.

In Iowa, Lives Are Only Worth $1,000 Each

This is what gives OSHA a bad name. State safety officials have fined a central Iowa company $3,000 after three of its workers fell to their deaths from a television tower in May.

Deters Tower Service of Grimes was cited after an investigation showed the workers fell after a rope broke. The Iowa Occupational Safety and Health Agency also said there was no system in place to protect them from such a failure.

The workers were replacing strobe lights on the tower near Oakland in Pottawattamie County when the accident happened.

The owner of the company, Leo Deters of Norwalk, Jason Galles of Des Moines and Jon McWilliams of Cumming fell about 1,200 feet.

I propose an escalating system of fines when multiple deaths occur. A single death would warrant a $10,000 fine. A second death would require a $25,000 fine per death. A third would cost the employer $100,000 per death. I believe someone would have better protected the three television tower workers if my proposal had been in place. It would have been impossible for them to have fallen even 10 feet.

September 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Double-Dipping Has Many Names

Category: The Latest Baddest

Double-dipping is the subject of a post at InsureBlog.

Shoe, Meet Other Foot...

Briefly, several agents (and agencies) agreed to help local school districts shop for their group insurance. They were paid a fee by these public entities, and charged with finding the best plans at the most attractive rates. Unbeknownst to the school districts, the agents were also paid commissions (and apparently bonuses) by the carriers, essentially getting paid twice for the same work. When the districts found out, they cried foul, and the agents now face disciplinary action (if not firing squads) by the State of Ohio.

Firing squads may not be appropriate, but maybe a public lashing is. If public money is received to perform a service no other money should be sought or paid as compensation. Of course, the public entity should be prudent enough to include a prohibition of outside compensation, bonuses, fees or free trips to golf resorts.

But, prohibitions need to be as creative as the agents who, apparently, have quite a vocabulary when talking about double-dipping.

...allegedly, one of the agents demanded extra compensation from the carrier, and requested "that the payments not be called commissions (his contract with the district prohibited commissions) but rather be an "override, or some other form, like consulting."

September 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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And On The 31st Hour He Rested

Category: The Latest Baddest

Just the doctor I want to diagnose and treat my wife or child - a first year medical resident who has been working 30 consecutive hours and 80 hours a week. Worse, we now find Dr. Exhausted is likely to be exceeding these enlightened limits. Does this profession really believe this is best for patients...or residents, for that matter?

Medical Residents Overworked Despite New Work Limits

From Scientific American:

Young doctors in their first year out of medical school regularly toil beyond highly publicized new limits on their working hours, according to newly published results from a Web-based survey. The work limits, which went into effect three years ago, were meant to address the concern that hospitals overburdened these physicians in training, or residency, thereby putting patients at risk of serious medical errors. Another survey finds that the extended hours made first-year residents more likely to jab or cut themselves with a needle or scalpel.

Working 80 to 100 hours a week or even more was long considered normal for residents, on the grounds that such training taught them to operate under stress and provide complete patient care. Of course, grueling hours also double a resident's chance of getting into a car crash and make them one third more likely to commit a serious error, studies had found. In June 2003, prompted by proposed legislation to restrict residents' hours, the Accreditation Council for Graduate Medical Education began limiting residents to 30 consecutive hours and 80 hours a week, averaged over four weeks.

September 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Tort Reform Discussed By A Fool Makes Even Less Sense

Category: The Latest Baddest

Sometimes two stock answers provided by Tort Reformers USA just won't hang together. Giving them makes you look, well, dishonest, disingenuous or stupid.

The Denver Post carries this tale of a glib tongue that mocks its owner.

"Take a hike!" That's Republican candidate Bob Beauprez's response to Colorado's health-care crisis. Check it out - it's right there on his website, beauprezforgovernor.com.

Last month, a reporter asked Beauprez about the factors causing massive increases in the cost of health care. Remarkably, he answered, "Medical malpractice costs." According to the candidate, 80 percent of doctors admit to practicing "defensive medicine" due to malpractice costs. This despite the fact that, according to Beauprez's website, Colorado's medical malpractice laws are among the most effective in the nation at "thwarting frivolous lawsuits and defensive medicine."

Do Colorado's effective medical malpractice laws effectively thwart defensive medicine? Or do 80 percent of doctors practice "defensive medicine"? Mr. Beauprez, which way is it?

I suppose Candidate Beauprez would say, It all depends on the meaning of the word thwart.

August 26, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Were Body Cavities Included In The Illegal Strip Searches?

Category: The Latest Baddest

It must have been quite exhilarating for the jailers in New York to illegally strip search thousands of inmates charged with misdemeanors. At least the arresting officers didn't do it at the scene of the arrest.

Jail stripped of search rights

A new federal appeals court decision could open the door for thousands of people who were strip-searched at the Nassau County jail between 1996 and 1999 to sue the county for damages.

The ruling by the Second U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals could expose the county to tens of millions of dollars in damages, a plaintiffs' lawyer said. The ruling says that the county should be held liable for illegally strip-searching anyone who was brought to the jail during that time on misdemeanor charges, and grants those people class-action status for liability.

The county has conceded for years that it was wrong to strip-search people who were not accused of felonies, and correction officers stopped doing it in 1999, County Attorney Lorna Goodman said.

"A strip search where someone is buck naked is one of the most degrading experiences a person can go through," said Robert L. Herbst of Manhattan, a lawyer for the plaintiffs. "When someone has to go through that because of a policy that the county knew was unlawful, that's a disgrace."

The appeals court has sent the case back to an Eastern District judge, who will next decide whether potential plaintiffs should be treated as a class when it comes to awarding them damages.

August 26, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Medication Errors Run Amok

Category: The Latest Baddest

The spectrum of medication errors by healthcare professionals is so wide and deep that it seems to be designed into the delivery system. You have to reach the conclusion that nobody gives a damn after reading the results of this study at Johns Hopkins Children's Center, presumably a well-staffed facility adhering to the gold standard of care. I cannot imagine the magnitude of the problem at facilities which are only meeting the silver or bronze standards.

Drug Injury Watch brought the study to my attention.

Drug Errors Occur At All Points In Medication Process

In June 2006 the medical journal Quality & Safety in Healthcare published an article, "Computer based medication error reporting: insights and implications", that demonstrated drug errors can and do occur at all points in the medication process.

Medical researchers, led by Marlene Miller and Christoph Lehmann, analyzed 19 months of data from a voluntary medication error reporting system in use at the Johns Hopkins Children's Center from 2001 to 2004.

As regards where the drug error occurred during the medication process, they found:

30% were prescribing errors;
24% were dispensing errors;
41% were administration errors; and,
6% were documentation errors.

Analyzing their data by drug type, the researchers observed:

17% of the errors occurred with antibiotics or anti-virals;
15% with pain relievers and sedatives;
11% with nutritional supplements;
8% with gastrointestinal medications; and,
7% with cardiovascular medications.

At least the medical grief is being equally spread among the patient population by the miscreants.

August 25, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Dying At Work - 5,702 Times In 2005

Category: The Latest Baddest

Workplace fatalities remain high. The Bush Administration says it sees improvement. Presumably, all we have to do is stay the course.

That is an executive summary of a blistering post at Workers' Comp Insider, excerpted below.

BLS Stats on Dying at Work: Spin Control in the Graveyard

The Bureau of Labor Statistics has issued its report on workplace fatalities for 2005. The total number of deaths (5,702) is down a fraction from the previous year's 5,764. In his press release announcing the results, Assistant Secretary of Labor Edwin Foulke tries to emphasize the positive, which isn't easy, given the inherently morbid nature of the data.

Here's what Foulke had to say, with a few parenthetical Insider comments:
Fatal falls declined 7 percent last year from an all-time high recorded just a year earlier [Wow, did I miss the 2005 OSHA initiative to reduce the death rate from falls?]. Further, fatal work injuries among roofers dropped sharply, by 44 percent, [Gosh, Mr. Secretary, why are roofers suddenly being a lot more careful?] and, fatalities among women in 2005 (402) were the lowest annual total ever recorded by the census [excuse me, but this year's report does not show any historical data on workplace deaths for women. It would be nice to know how many fewer women died in 2005 than in previous years]. While the number of fatalities among Hispanic employees edged up slightly last year due to increased employment of Hispanic workers, the actual fatality rate declined [why are more Hispanics dying? Is the increasing number of fatalities acceptable?].

"Today's report is positive news for our nation and all workers," said Foulke. [A bizarre statement, to say the least.] "The overall decrease in workplace fatalities is the third lowest annual total recorded since BLS began collecting this data. [Give me a break. We're talking a difference of 62 deaths. Given the 143 million participants in the workforce, 62 fewer deaths is hardly statistically significant.] More importantly, this shows that more men and women were able to return home safely from their jobs. [Well, yes. But this report is the sad tale of the 5,702 workers who didn't.]

"Many of our initiatives to reduce workplace fatalities are showing tremendous successes, [Excuse me, Mr. Secretary, would you care to elaborate on these initiatives?] but there is still more work to do," he said. "The data released today highlight areas where our resources must be focused in order to eliminate fatalities on the job. We remain committed to doing just that." [I'm waiting for OSHA's new "Zero Fatalities for Fishermen" Initiative, coming soon to a port near you.]

The annual data on dying at work does not contain much in the way of positive news. Every year, too many people die on the job. Virtually all of these fatalities are preventable. While we can debate what specific programs are most effective in decreasing the risk of injury and death in the workplace, it's safe to say that this administration has reduced government's role to the bare minimum. No amount of data spinning is going to change that.

Continue reading "Dying At Work - 5,702 Times In 2005"

August 24, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Lack Of Professional Liability Insurance Should Be Disclosed

Category: The Latest Baddest

In the category of what is good for the goose...Walter Olson, at PointOfLaw.com, posts:

One of the most basic and relevant disclosures a lawyer can make to clients is whether he is covered by professional liability insurance or not. Somehow the legal profession has been slow to grasp this point, even while its members take the lead in enforcing rather more stringent consumer disclosure laws aimed at other occupations and professions. About one-third of states have decided through their regulators to require this disclosure from members of the bar, but in California -- the same state that goes to truly loopy lengths to require disclosures of essentially imaginary consumer risks -- a large body of lawyers argues that it's just too onerous. And guess who's taken the lead in that anti-consumer stance?

Unfortunately, the answer to the question is the California Trial Lawyers Association -- now the Consumer Attorneys of California.

Walter is right to spotlight this irony.

The public has a right to assume that licensed professionals in every field carry insurance for malpractice.

August 22, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Truth In Headlines On Blog Takes A Backseat To The Agenda

Category: The Latest Baddest

This Makes Me Sick! has apparently decided to insert little digs at medical malpractice lawyers and claims in the titles to its articles or links. The insertions do not have any relevance to the article or link. It is just a type of subliminal persuasion, I guess.

For example, there is a link today, August 22, 2006, to an article regarding the terribly high costs of getting the hospitals of New Orleans back in operation again after Hurricane Katrina. The link is Big Easy Hospitals Need Beaucoup $$ To Reopen, Pay Malpractice Insurance.

Note the Pay Malpractice Insurance sort of stuck on the end of the link's wording.

You can read the article from TV station KTAC, which is actually headlined as Health care redesign group backs requests for $300 million, all week and will not find any reference to Malpractice Insurance.

All I can say is that This Makes Me Sick! To discover an apparent bias against medical malpractice lawsuits and the compensation of malpractice victims at the website is shocking.

August 19, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Big Tobacco Lawyers Were Big Enablers

Category: The Latest Baddest

The recent tobacco ruling by a Federal Judge recognizing the criminal enterprise that we call Big Tobacco for what it is contains some strong words about lawyers. For a change, the words are directed toward the corporate and defense attorneys and not those on the plaintiffs' side who have fought mightily for the victims of smoking and the health of our nation.

Thanks to Canuckflack.com who highlights the judge's "indictment" of the enablers in the legal profession.

Tobacco PR and [Corporate] Lawyers: Deceitful Birds of a Feather?

Hey folks! If the Federal Court of Appeals feels this strongly about members of the bar acting unethically in pursuit of billable hours from the tobacco companies, what in the world must they think of the behaviour of advertising, marketing and public relations firms?

" ... Finally, a word must be said about the role of lawyers in this fifty-year history of deceiving smokers, potential smokers, and the American public about the hazards of smoking and second hand smoke, and the addictiveness of nicotine. At every stage, lawyers played an absolutely central role in the creation and perpetuation of the Enterprise and the implementation of its fraudulent schemes.

They devised and coordinated both national and international strategy; they directed scientists as to what research they should and should not undertake; they vetted scientific research papers and reports as well as public relations materials to ensure that the interests of the Enterprise would be protected; they identified "friendly" scientific witnesses, subsidized them with grants from the Center for Tobacco Research and the Center for Indoor Air Research, paid them enormous fees, and often hid the relationship between those witnesses and the industry; and they devised and carried out document destruction policies and took shelter behind baseless assertions of the attorney client privilege.

What a sad and disquieting chapter in the history of an honorable and often courageous profession. ..." (Judgement, Page 4 (pg 34 of .pdf))

Requiring the lawyer-enablers to smoke two packs a day for the rest of their lives might be an appropriate sanction.

August 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Nut Behind The Wheel Is, Sadly, Still Behind The Wheel

Category: The Latest Baddest

We have found the most defective component of the automobile. It is us, the drivers.

A study by the Insurance Institute for Highway Safety shows a need to work on the human side of highway crashes. I am not quite ready to say Cars don't kill people; people do. But, plain foolishness behind the wheel has to stop.

Cars are becoming safer, but the people who drive them are not, an insurance industry research group has found.

Absent safety improvements such as air bags, the highway death toll would rise by about 5,000 people - a more than 11 percent increase over 2005, according to the study.

The Insurance Institute for Highway Safety said drunken-driving rates did not change much in the 10 years studied, seat belt use has climbed only slowly and people are driving faster.

"We have lost focus on the human behavior side," said Adrian Lund, an author of the study, which examined the period from 1994 to 2004

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August 05, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Providing Pathetic Inmate Medical Care Reduces Prison Population

Category: The Latest Baddest

California was in the vanguard in developing a program to decrease its prison population. Providing pathetic health care to inmates was killing them off quite effectively. Just when the program was getting off the ground a Federal Judge discovered it.

Calif. Prison Chief Wants Private Care

The California prison system, plagued by mismanagement and negligence in delivering health care to inmates, is ill-equipped to provide hospital services to prisoners and should let an independent health care provider take over, the state's corrections chief said Friday.

"Clearly, I've seen examples where inmates are dying due to a lack of care in the system," Acting Corrections Secretary James Tilton said. "The facts are there: We have people not getting appropriate care."

A federal receiver took control of the prisons' medical system in April after a U.S. District Court judge found that an average of one inmate a week was dying of malpractice or neglect.

July 30, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Death By Lethal Injection -The Missouri Approach

Category: The Latest Baddest

Some patients who are fighting to live think their doctors are less than qualified to provide the best care. It turns out that most of the inmates on Death Row in Missouri who were only hoping to die as peacefully as possible were at the mercy of a doctor who may have been unqualified to provide any medical care.

Doctor overseeing executions had history of lawsuits, reprimands

From behind a screen in a Kansas City court June 5, the doctor who devised and supervised the state's lethal injection procedure described it in terms so troubling to a federal judge that he ordered it halted.

The doctor testified anonymously that he is dyslexic. That he sometimes confused names of drugs. That he sometimes gave inconsistent testimony. That the injection protocol was not written down, and that he made changes on his "independent authority."

And that turns out not to be all.

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch has confirmed the man behind the screen was Dr. Alan R. Doerhoff, 62, of Jefferson City. Two Missouri hospitals won't allow him to practice within their walls. He has been sued for malpractice more than 20 times, by his own estimate, and was publicly reprimanded in 2003 by the state Board of Healing Arts for failing to disclose malpractice suits to a hospital where he was treating patients.

It is unclear how much U.S. District Judge Fernando Gaitan Jr. was told before he strongly questioned the doctor's qualifications - and whether Missouri was delivering unconstitutionally cruel punishment in its death chamber

A deeper dive into court records shows that Doerhoff made false statements in at least two different court cases about his history of mistakes.

The article about Dr. Death By Injection details even more troubling revelations about his competency. In the process, the story raises the question of the competence of those who permitted him to be in this position.

July 28, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Marlboro Man Is No Johnny Appleseed

Category: The Latest Baddest

The Marlboro Man is riding the range in Western Europe, Asia and the Mideast, driving cigarette sales to new highs (instead of a herd of cattle).

Altria stock sets new high; outlook raised

Shares of Altria hit a new 52-week high on Tuesday after the world's biggest cigarette maker reported stronger-than-expected second-quarter earnings and predicted profit would continue to rise as international sales expand.

Altria Group Inc., which is also a majority owner of Kraft Foods, said its net profit grew 1.6 percent on strong growth in international tobacco and food sales. The maker of Marlboro and Parliament cigarettes also raised its full-year guidance.

Chief Financial Officer Dinyar Devitre projected further growth for Philip Morris International Inc., which saw improvement in markets in Western Europe, Asia and the Mideast.

The company has been experiencing declining cigarette consumption in the U.S., as health concerns and a growing number of smoking bans drive down demand by nearly 2 percent a year. Shipment volume in the quarter for Philip Morris USA, which controls about half the U.S. market, was down 4.3 percent to 47.2 billion units in the quarter, the company said, although excluding trade distortions, that decline was about 2 percent.

This "good news" comes shortly after the Florida State Supreme Court found that:

1. Smoking cigarettes causes aortic aneurysm, bladder cancer, cerebrovascular disease, cervical cancer, chronic obstructive pulmonary disease, coronary heart disease, esophageal cancer, kidney cancer, laryngeal cancer, lung cancer (specifically, adenocarinoma, large cell carcinoma, small cell carcinoma, and squamous cell carcinoma), complications of pregnancy, oral cavity/tongue cancer, pancreatic cancer, peripheral vascular disease, pharyngeal cancer, and stomach cancer)

2. Nicotine in cigarettes is addictive.

3. The defendants placed cigarettes on the market that were defective and unreasonably dangerous.

4. The defendants concealed or omitted material information not otherwise known or available knowing that the material was false or misleading or failed to disclose a material fact concerning the health effects or addictive nature of smoking cigarettes or both.

5. All of the defendants agreed to misrepresent information relating to the health effects of cigarettes or the addictive nature of cigarettes with the intention that smokers and the public would rely on this information to their detriment.

6. The defendants agreed to conceal or omit information regarding the health effects of cigarettes or their addictive nature with the intention that smokers and the public would rely on this information to their detriment.

I knew Johnny Appleseed and the Marlboro Man is no Johnny Appleseed.

July 21, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Consumer Product Safety Commission Should Ban Medications During Hospitalizations

Category: The Latest Baddest

The Institute of Medicine keeps writing reports that must be on the banned list for medical providers. The New York Times informs us and, presumably, the nation's medical providers that things are not getting better in our hospitals. This is a story that is running in a serialization that began in 1999. Maybe it needs to be published in the Wall Street Journal or Ski Magazine. Or, pasted on the men's room wall at country clubs.

Report Finds a Heavy Toll From Medication Errors

Medication errors harm 1.5 million people and kill several thousand each year in the United States, costing the nation at least $3.5 billion annually, the Institute of Medicine concluded in a report released on Thursday.

Drug errors are so widespread that hospital patients should expect to suffer one every day they remain hospitalized, although error rates vary by hospital and most do not lead to injury, the report concluded.

The report, "Preventing Medication Errors," cited the death of Betsy Lehman, a 39-year-old mother of two and a health reporter for The Boston Globe, as a classic fatal drug mix-up. Ms. Lehman died in 1993 after a doctor mistakenly gave her four times the appropriate dose of a toxic drug to treat her breast cancer.

The report is the fourth in a series done by the institute, the nation's most prestigious medical advisory organization, that has called attention to the enormous health and financial burdens brought about by medical errors.

The first report, "To Err Is Human," was released in 1999 and caused a sensation when it estimated that medical errors of all sorts led to as many as 98,000 deaths each year -- more than was caused by highway accidents and breast cancer combined.

After the first report, health officials and hospital groups pledged reforms, but many of the most important efforts have been slow to take hold.

Should the Consumer Product Safety Commission consider banning all drugs during hospitalizations?

June 28, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Delay, Deny And Underpay - Is This Any Way To Run An Insurance Company?

Category: The Latest Baddest

I am trying to picture the new ads that State Farm may be running after a recent verdict in Oklahoma. Should the company try something like, Hey, Hey, Hey - Delay, Deny and Underpay? Or, maybe, With Malice Toward All.

Jury penalizes State Farm over tornado claims

State Farm acted "intentionally and with malice" in handling the insurance claims of dozens of families whose homes were damaged in the May 3, 1999, tornado outbreak in south central Oklahoma, a Grady County jury decided.

After five weeks of testimony, jurors awarded $12.9 million in damages to the lead plaintiffs in the class action lawsuit, comprising $3 million in actual damages and $9.9 million in punitive damages.

Donald L. Watkins Jr. and Bridget Watkins alleged in July 2001 the insurance company "engaged in a wrongful scheme to delay, deny or underpay claims" by engaging the services of Haag Engineering Co. to inspect brick and other structural damage to policyholders' homes, knowing Haag was predetermined to disagree with the policyholder as to the nature and extent of the covered losses.

The jury ruled that State Farm "recklessly disregarded" its duty to deal fairly and act in good faith with the Watkinses and that it "intentionally and with malice" breached its duties as the couple's insurance company.

The jury further found "clear and convincing evidence" that State Farm recklessly disregarded its duty to act fairly and in good faith with members of the class action by employing Haag Engineering and its independent adjusters from E.A. Renfro Co.

June 22, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Were These Lawsuits Frivolous?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Submitted for your review are three recent verdicts not likely to appear in any list of frivolous lawsuits.

CHICAGO -- A woman was awarded $35,835,684 by an Illinois jury for being rendered quadriplegic after she was hit by a speeding deputy's sheriff en route to a low-priority call (Margaret Petraski v. Cook County, No. 01-L-6368, Ill. Cir., Cook Co.).

PHILADELPHIA -- Twins were awarded a combined $13.2 million against a hospital for neurological damage they sustained in utero after their mother's urinary tract infection went undiagnosed (Lisa Kinney-Lindstrom, et al. v. Philip G. Sih, M.D., Morgan T. Smith, M.D., and Abington Memorial Hospital, No. 03-02926, E.D. Pa.).

MORGANTOWN, W. Va. -- A family was awarded $17 million for injuries their daughter sustained at birth which rendered her a spastic quadriplegic (Mark and Lori Pochron, et al. v. Monongalia General Hospital, et al., No. 03-FC-4, W.Va. Cir., Monongalia Co.).

June 16, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Airliner Crashes And Medical Lab Errors - Both Deadly

Category: The Latest Baddest

False negatives and false positives in medical labs cost money and lives. An expert in pathology quality compares the present error rates to 1% of all airlines crashing. That got my attention. We should either start riding the train or put some checks and balances in place.

Hospitals move to cut dangerous lab errors

Diagnosed with a deadly neuroendocrine cancer at age 34, Kim Tutt was told she might have just months to live. After five surgeries to excise a cyst under her gum, remove her lower jaw and teeth, and reconstruct her face with bone taken from her lower leg, the Tyler, Texas, mother of two heard some shocking news: The slides from the biopsy of her cyst had been contaminated by cells from another patient, and she had never had cancer in the first place.

For patients, some of the most devastating medical mistakes can start in the lab, where studies show that 3 percent to 5 percent of the billions of specimens taken each year are defective, be it a biopsy that doesn't extract the tumor cells, blood that isn't drawn correctly or a mix-up with another patient's sample. The error rate is significantly higher and more dangerous in common tests for many cancers, where a false positive may lead to unnecessary surgery or a false negative can miss a deadly skin cancer.

Now hospitals and health-care-quality groups around the country are working on initiatives to bring more rigorous standards to pathology labs...

"Tests fail because things can go wrong at every step of the process, and there are no checks and balances in place in pathology to catch these errors," says Stephen Raab, director of the center for pathology quality and health-care research at the University of Pittsburgh Medical Center, who is leading the lab-safety collaborative. While only about 1 percent of errors lead to serious harm or delays in treatment, he says, "You wouldn't want to have 1 percent of all airlines crashing."

June 14, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Special Docket For Special Folks

Category: The Latest Baddest

Some people are treated differently (make that much better) than others by our court system. A USAToday Blog discussion of the special treatment for special folks was set off by the discovery of a secret docket in South Florida.

South Florida's secret divorces revealed

"Any divorce that lands in court goes on the public record -- except the divorces of some judges, elected officials and other big shots, whose cases are hidden on a secret docket in Broward courts."

The story lands on the Miami Herald's front page this morning after the paper sued to get details on the secret records. How secret? Not only are the contents of the cases not public, but the very existence of the cases is hidden as well, the paper says. It's a county-news story, but in a nation with plenty of divorces, the Herald places the story in a bigger context.

"The use of a secret docket in the first place goes against the basic tenet that courts should be open to the public," the story says. "But the high-profile names on the docket further raise the question of whether some people get special treatment and are spared the indignity of having the details of their divorces open to all eyes."

An earlier Herald story looked at more secret cases and found "Divorce, negligence, malpractice and fraud cases have all vanished into a kind of legal black hole...."

I'm keeping a secret list of judges, elected officials and other big shots who should be sent to live in a black hole.

June 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Infected Body Parts For Sale (And Transplant)

Category: The Latest Baddest

Are you wondering why there have been reports lately of infected body parts from cadavers being transplanted into patients? This Associated Press story may provide the answer.

Tissue demand rises while inspections fall

A piece of fruit coming into the United States is more likely to get government attention than a ligament or heart valve taken from a cadaver and destined for transplant.

Although demand for donor tissue is booming, government inspections have fallen. In 2001, the Food and Drug Administration inspected 1 in 3 registered tissue companies; now it is 1 in 8. Over the same period, the tissue enforcement staff has shrunk from 252 to 227.

Meanwhile, the list of companies or those handling tissue has quintupled in that time frame from 406 to 2,030.

"Anytime you've got a growing industry with high profits to be made and the cops are not on the beat and they know it, it opens the door to mischief," said William Hubbard, an FDA associate commissioner from 1991-2005.

June 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Just When You Thought Your Ultrasound Was Safe And Non-Invasive

Category: The Latest Baddest

Beware of the ultrasound tech with a vaginal wand.

Woman's lawsuit claims assault during ultrasound

A woman is suing a Beaver County man she claims sexually assaulted her with a medical device during an ultrasound procedure in 2004.

The woman's attorney, Howard F. Murphy...said his client needed a routine abdominal ultrasound, but Pavlick duped her into allowing him to use a vaginal wand.

The lawsuit claims Pavlick used the device on the woman in an aggressive, sexual manner while also using his fingers. It further states that he made small talk with her and invited her to share his lunch.

June 08, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Billboard's Message Targets Rebuked Attorney

Category: The Latest Baddest

A Texas lawyer is featured on a billboard near the courthouse. But, the billboard contains a message he will not like. Forbes details this novel use of outdoor advertising.

Billboard Targets Unethical Attorney Still Practicing Law in San Antonio

A billboard unveiled today near the courthouse in downtown San Antonio is designed to draw the public's attention to the fact that a local attorney continues to practice law, following a sharp rebuke from a Texas appellate court for his willing participation in a fraudulent, multi-billion dollar lawsuit.

"Since the State Bar of Texas has failed to appropriately punish him, we decided to turn up the heat on Trey Wilson for pursuing a bogus, $2 billion lawsuit that the trial judge said was based on faked evidence, witness tampering and intimidation," explained Sherman Joyce, president of the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA), the billboard's sponsor. Robert "Trey" Wilson was one of three San Antonio lawyers who filed the "phony" product liability lawsuit against DaimlerChrysler in 1998, Joyce said.

ATRA's billboard, headlined "The Texas Justice Massacre," resembles a Hollywood movie promotion replete with dramatic quotes and a "U" rating for "unacceptable." Its theme complements a recent newspaper ad sponsored by the Texas Civil Justice League (TCJL).

Will this start a trend? Will we see a billboard adjacent to a hospital headlined The Wild Bunch Rides Again?

June 06, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Plastic Surgery or Plastic Disasters?

Category: The Latest Baddest

'Plastic Disasters,' a Documentary on Cosmetic Surgery, is the subject of a review in the New York Times. After reading the review I will not be removing any wrinkles, liposuctioning any part of my body or straightening my nose.

Cosmetic surgery is fast becoming the new national pastime.

But like other body obsessions -- fitness, dieting or tanning, for example -- cosmetic procedures can sometimes cause extreme harm. That is the subject of "Plastic Disasters," an hourlong documentary on plastic surgery patients that [had] its premiere [recently] on HBO.

The film, directed and produced by David Heilbroner and Kate Davis, who won an Emmy Award for her 2004 HBO documentary "Jockey," positions itself as the antidote to television shows like "Extreme Makeover" and "The Swan." Those reality programs, both now defunct, promoted plastic surgeons as fairy godmothers, transforming patients (after hours on the operating table and months of recovery time) from frumpy Cinderellas to plasticized clones of Pamela Anderson.

"Plastic Disasters" takes the opposite point of view, that plastic surgery is not a welcome boost to self-esteem. The show posits cosmetic surgery as an agent of total ruination, leaving its victims scarred, both physically and emotionally.

The documentary is gruesomely compelling, complete with shots of gore and gangrene. It focuses on three patients who have had bad experiences: Mona, who had a botched liposuction; Tony, who undergoes a series of operations to correct a faulty nose job; and Lucille, who, after a nose job and two face lifts, is obsessed with her appearance.

Ms. Alley had liposuction at the Florida Center for Cosmetic Surgery in Fort Lauderdale. At least two patients died soon after having surgery there; the clinic settled 18 lawsuits with patients who claimed their operations were botched, according to The South Florida Sun-Sentinel.

The center could have provided the filmmakers with a perfect case study on how the facility, abetted by lax state oversight, developed such a controversial reputation. But the film never asks why the Florida Department of Health and its Board of Medicine were slow to discipline some of the doctors from the center. Not one state or federal health official or representative from a medical association appears in the film.

May 26, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The Old "Day Surgery Doctor Switcheroo With An Immunity Twist"

Category: The Latest Baddest

Ken Ackerman, a former Portland television anchor, has posted a compelling story of surgery that turned out poorly, a substitute surgeon and the virtual immunity provided to doctors practicing at many state-owned facilities.

While I Was Sleeping is the ironic title of the article. Ironic because sleeping is what we all have been doing while immunity expands for medical providers.

OHSU doctors are virtually unaccountable

It was supposed to be a 45-minute day surgery. "Dime a dozen," my doctor said. When the anesthesia wore off, I'd go home.

Several weeks earlier, I had been playing tennis when I felt a sharp pain in my neck. I called the head of neurosurgery at OHSU who referred me to a doctor on his staff. We met and decided I would undergo a procedure designed to reduce spinal nerve pressure.

Following the early morning operation I woke up in a hospital room. I wasn't supposed to be there. It was dark outside. Nighttime. I was supposed to be home. Yet, here I was, hooked up to tubes, my friends and family were there, my mother was crying. My doctor announced, "We think the swelling in your neck is the cause of your paralysis."

Paralyzed? The shock of hearing that word was only slightly more shocking than the news I received a few weeks later. A friend told me that an acquaintance of his was in the operating room during my surgery and had witnessed a second-year resident perform most of the procedure. I had put my faith and trust in one doctor. I had gone under the anesthesia with the understanding that the physician I had selected would be performing my surgery. I began to look for legal representation. That's when I received another big surprise.

One well respected Portland lawyer told me I had a case, but he wouldn't represent me because I had the surgery at OHSU. Doctors at OHSU claim protection under the Oregon Tort Claims Act, a law designed to limit liability for public agencies. If you file a medical malpractice claim against an OHSU doctor, you are limited to a maximum of $200,000 in damages. The cost, I learned, of preparing a malpractice claim for trial is too great and doesn't pencil out with the limits in place. In other words, I discovered, OHSU doctors are virtually unaccountable.

I was eventually able to find an attorney who believed that, with the right approach, we could make a difference. We filed suit against the OHSU Medical Group, which the doctors established in 1998 for the express purpose of separating themselves from OHSU Hospital. It's our contention that these doctors shouldn't be able to hide behind any kind of public protection.

My trial is set for this coming August. A jury will decide if the OHSU Medical Group doctors are public agents or private businessmen. If jurors rule in our favor, it will open the door for many others to get the most basic of questions answered like, "Who operated on me?" Just the first of many questions a victim has a right to know when a routine day surgery turns into a lifelong disability.

May 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Frist Finds Band Of Greedy Predatory Lawyers Attacking Places Of Healing

Category: The Latest Baddest

At last there is a group of lawyers who will take the heat off greedy trial lawyers.

Bill Frist has discovered greedy predatory lawyers who have been placing landmines in doctors' offices. I deplore this conduct and would support extraordinary rendition of any greedy preds apprehended in possession of IUD's, excuse me, IED's, to an AMA convention.

The shocking report:

Senate Democrats blocked two Republican-sponsored measures supported by President Bush that would have limited what doctors would pay injured patients for pain and suffering in malpractice lawsuits.

Senate Republican leader Bill Frist, a cardiac surgeon before going into politics, fell 12 votes short of rounding up the 60 needed to proceed with consideration of the main measure.

Frist said "greedy predatory lawyers" had turned doctors' offices into "minefields" for physicians rather than "places of healing."

April 14, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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To Forgive Is Divine - Hospitals Allowed To Have More Care Deficiencies

Category: The Latest Baddest

One would think that hospital regulators and accreditaion associations would be tightening up on patient care standards. But, leniency and forgiveness seem to be in vogue these days.

Hospitals Now Can Have More Patient Care Violations, Other Deficiencies Before Being Sanctioned By JCAHO

The Joint Commission on Accreditation of Healthcare Organizations is defending a decision last month to raise the number of allowable deficiencies a hospital can receive before being punished, as lawmakers and others say the change could decrease quality of care, the Los Angeles Times reports.

Reaction

Critics, including several lawmakers, have said the change is a "step back," adding that JCAHO seems "more eager to please hospitals than protect patients," the Times reports. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) said, "I don't know how far below zero they intend to go. They're not doing the job of making sure that hospitals are delivering quality, safe care." Senate Finance Committee Chair Chuck Grassley (R-Iowa) said the changes were "puzzling," adding, "Government investigators already have documented that the Joint Commission misses too many serious problems and rarely drops any hospital's accreditation. This move to weaken standards seems to be going in the opposite direction of what makes sense for quality of care."

Source

April 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Vioxx - Bad Drug, Bad Company

Category: The Latest Baddest

Any corporation can make a mistake. Any drug company can manufacturer and sell a product that turns out to cause serious injuries. But, it takes a special company to commit fraud on consumers and to intentionally withhold important information from prescribing doctors. Merck has joined the special club.

From Pharmagossip:

Merck - Vioxx; "wanton and wilfull"

Poor Merck. Yesterday they received a fresh blow in the intensifying legal battles over their painkiller Vioxx.

The New Jersey jury in the latest case ordered Merck to pay $9m in punitive damages for engaging in "wanton and wilful" conduct leading to a heart attack in one patient.

This is in addition to the $4.5 million already awarded, but less than the possible maximum of $22.5 million (5 x $4.5 milion) allowed by NJ state law.

...the jury found that Merck committed consumer fraud through unconscionable commercial practices when marketing Vioxx to physicians; that it made misrepresentations that could have been misleading; and that it intentionally omitted material information about a link between Vioxx and increased risk of cardiovascular injury.

April 09, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Is The Hospital A Health Provider Or The Grim Reaper?

Category: The Latest Baddest

Be sure you have your will updated before checking into the hospital. Hospital deaths caused by medical errors continue to rise. They are probably increasing at just about the rate that the tort reform effort has diminished patient rights to file claims. If this trend continues we will not have a Social Security or a Medicare crisis.

Medical News Today provides the sobering news about the grim reaper/health provider hospital industry.

Medical Errors Leading Cause Of Death In Hospitals, Study Says

Medical errors remain a leading cause of death and injury at hospitals nationwide, and the effort to improve patient safety at the facilities "is too slow and should be a cause for great alarm," according to a study released on Monday by HealthGrades, the Syracuse Post-Standard reports.

For the study, researchers examined the records of Medicare beneficiaries treated at about 5,000 hospitals nationwide between 2002 and 2004 and used 13 patient safety indicators developed by the federal government to evaluate admissions (Mulder, Syracuse Post-Standard, 4/3).

The study finds that about 1.24 million patient safety incidents occurred between 2002 and 2004, compared with 1.14 million between 2000 and 2002, at a cost of $9.3 billion.

According to the study, failure to save the lives of Medicare beneficiaries who developed complications, bloodstream infections and bedsores accounted for almost 63% of the patient safety incidents (Nelson, Knoxville News-Sentinel, 4/3). Almost 25% of Medicare beneficiaries who experienced patient safety incidents died between 2002 and 2004, and 82% of those deaths likely were preventable, according to the study.

The study finds that hospitals in Minnesota, Wisconsin, Iowa, Michigan and Kansas ranked highest on patient safety and that facilities in New York, New Jersey, Nevada, Tennessee and the District of Columbia ranked lowest (Syracuse Post-Standard, 4/3).

Samantha Collier, vice president of medical affairs for HealthGrades, said, "Overall, we see the number of patient safety incidents in American hospitals continuing to increase, at an enormous cost, and we still see a large gap between the incidence rates at the nation's top-performing and worst-performing hospitals" (Knoxville News-Sentinel, 4/3).

March 28, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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When An Orphanage Is An Enabler Of Child Molestation

Category: The Latest Baddest

An orphanage that permits a 12 year old girl to be checked out for weekends - unbelieveable!

The Associated Press reports the story:

Judge awards girl $6 million for sexual molestation

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. -- A judge on Monday awarded $6 million in damages to a girl who was molested at the Masonic Home for Children in Oxford five years ago when she was 12.

Orange County Superior Court Judge Carl Fox ordered James McDaniel-Webb, 49, of Fuquay-Varina, to pay $2 million in compensatory damages and $4 million in punitive damages. The man has pleaded guilty to state and federal charges of sexual misconduct and is in prison.

The girl's lawyer, Lynne Holtkamp, said McDaniel-Webb's financial situation wasn't known, but the order would allow more information to be gathered.

"Before he was charged, he was a software developer for Quest and obviously had some assets," Holtkamp said. "What this will enable us to do is to have a judgment creditor to go and get more information about what, if anything, he still has."

Patrick and the orphanage agreed to a settlement of a lawsuit in January. The lawsuit contended that McDaniel-Webb took the girl on overnight weekend trips away from the orphanage.

March 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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How Not To Increase Physician Income

Category: Gaming The System

Is your cancer doctor profiteering by choosing the high priced drug?

Payment System For Oncologists Influences Choice Of Treatment, Study Says

The current reimbursement system for chemotherapy medications administered to cancer patients might affect the treatments that oncologists use, according to a study published in the current issue of Health Affairs, the New York Times reports. Medicare and private health insurers reimburse oncologists for the full cost of the chemotherapy medications administered intravenously in their offices, although oncologists can obtain discounts of as much as 86% on the price of the treatments. As a result, oncologists "can profit from the sale of chemotherapy drugs," the Times reports.

Source

February 15, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Will The Defendant SpongeBob SquarePaints Please Stand

Category: The Latest Baddest

The case may sound silly, but it's not. SpongeBob SquarePants is being hauled into court in Massachusetts. His crime? Exploiting young children and contributing to escalating rates of obesity and diabetes. How can a cartoon character be guilty of such things? By corporate marketing run amok.

These are the words of Michele Simon posted on the blog of Chef Ann Cooper who bills herself as a renegade lunch lady who works to transform cafeterias into culinary classrooms for students -- one school lunch at a time. She brings you information to learn about the importance of changing the way America feeds its children.

The Simon article explains why this lawsuit is anything but "frivolous." This is a lawsuit whose time has come. With every other legal avenue closed to protect children, suing the worse offenders is the last resort.

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February 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Patient Screwed By Inventive Surgeon

Category: The Latest Baddest

In what may have seemed like an incredibly ingenious solution to missing medical devices a surgeon created what will forever be known as the Rickston Screw-Up.

Medical malpractice suit involves makeshift implant

HILO - An hour into back surgery on patient Arturo Iturralde at Hilo Hospital in 2001, Dr. Robert Ricketson discovered that two titanium rods he planned to attach to Iturralde's spine were missing.

Brushing off an offer from a representative of the rod manufacturer to fly two more rods from Honolulu to Hilo in 90 minutes, Ricketson used a hacksaw to cut off the shaft of a screwdriver and inserted it into Iturralde's back.

The screwdriver piece broke a week later. For the next 2 1/2 years, Iturralde suffered increasingly severe medical problems until he died in 2003.

Source

January 23, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Pentagon Finds New Source Of Money - Military Retirees

Category: The Latest Baddest

Our military forces are being asked to sacrifice even in their retirement for the good of the country. Now, the idea is to dramatically increase their health insurance premiums. And, if that happens to force them out of the military medical system entirely, even better. Is this how America treats its troops?

The Pentagon hopes to reap billions of dollars to pay for ships, aircraft and other weapons by doubling or tripling health insurance premiums paid by military retirees and driving 600,000 of those pensioners out of the military medical system, a coalition of veterans organizations charges.

Groups representing more than 1 million military pensioners -- those who served at least 20 years -- are organizing a telephone and letter-writing campaign to block the idea if it surfaces in Congress or to persuade the Bush administration to abandon it.

The retiree groups say the hikes are meant to trim $32 billion from the Pentagon's health costs by 2015. Most of the projected savings would come from the movement of an estimated 600,000 retirees from Tricare to health insurance plans obtained through civilian employers. Source


January 17, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Out West Real Men Vault Fences To Use Restrooms

Category: The Latest Baddest

Even in the mountains of the West a football couch can carry the macho thing too far.

A lawsuit contending a freshman football coach for El Dorado High School told players to jump over a fence before a game at Ponderosa High School - resulting in a player fracturing his arm and facing what could be more than $100,000 in medical bills - won't be dismissed.

The lawsuit states that the freshman football player was at Ponderosa High School in Shingle Springs before the game when a teammate said he needed to use the restroom. Coach Melton asked whether others also had to do so and then directed the players to jump over a fence that was closer than using a gate to access the restroom, according to the lawsuit. One team member went first over the fence, followed by Melton and then the youth who fell, according to the suit.

From the Mountain Democrat

January 12, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Nursing Home Attendant Scalds Patient In 20 Minute Shower

Category: The Latest Baddest

A public guardian is suing a California nursing home on behalf of a disabled woman left by an attendant in a scalding shower for 20 minutes. The story of this terrible incident and its horrible consequences is posted by the Modesto Bee.

REDWOOD CITY, Calif. (AP) - San Mateo County sued a nursing home company after a disabled woman was left in a scalding shower so long she suffered third-degree burns. The county's public guardian is seeking unspecified medical costs and punitive damages from Res-Care Inc.

Prosecutors accuse the company of improperly training the attendant monitoring Theresa Rodriguez, 51, who was left in a wheelchair for 20 minutes under shower water up to 135 degrees, according to the suit.

Rodriguez, who suffered oxygen depravation at birth, was mentally and physically unable to move herself, the suit claims. Nursing staff then allegedly left her in a bed with third-degree burns for more than three hours before calling 911.

Rodriguez was burned so badly she spent two months on life support. She will remain bedridden and will need a feeding tube for the rest of her life, authorities said.


January 11, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Doctor Distances Himself From Evil Twin

Category: The Latest Baddest

From This Makes Me Sick is the story of the North Carolina doctor who moved to Michigan to get a new start far from the shadow of his evil twin. The problem is that the evil twin was the same doctor with a different name. Yep, the doctor just changed his name. I may be old fashioned, but the story makes me sick, too.

Dr. Steven Olchowski was once hailed as a maestro of the gastric bypass procedure. But then the lawsuits began. While practicing at North Carolina’s New Hanover Regional Medical Center, he would tell patients he was to perform one type of gastric bypass surgery. But once in the operating room, he actually did a risky short-cut operation--a mini-bypass--instead, resulting in life-threatening complications afterwards. He did give up his license in NC. But he was already in Michigan starting anew. And to cement the move, he changed his name. Out with Olchowski and in with Hawkins. His attorney said he wanted a fresh start. Don't we all. Try doing that pesky medical background check now.

January 08, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Medication Dosing Errors Common In Children

Category: The Latest Baddest

Medical researchers do not run from the word error. A recent medical journal article reported there are many potential errors in prescriptions for children that may prove harmful.

Potential medication dosing errors occur frequently in outpatient pediatrics. Studies on the clinical impact of these potential errors and effective error prevention strategies are needed.

Some of the details:

Approximately 15% of children were dispensed a medication with a potential dosing error: 8% were potential overdoses and 7% were potential underdoses. Among children weighing less than 35 kg, only 67% of doses were dispensed within recommended dosing ranges, and more than 1% were dispensed at more than twice the recommended maximum dose. Analgesics were most likely to be potentially overdosed (15%), whereas antiepileptics were most likely potentially underdosed (20%). Potential error rates were not lower at the site with an electronic prescription writer.

Potential Medication Dosing Errors in Outpatient Pediatrics, Journal of Pediatrics, Volume 147, Number 6, December 2005

January 07, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Automakers Deprive U.S. Buyers Of Safety Options

Category: The Latest Baddest

Why do 20 children under fifteen years of age die each year from choking in motor vehicle electric window incidents? Wash Park Prophet has the answer and a pretty damning indictment of U.S. automakers. Some excerpts:

A three year old [Sarah] left alone in a running car with other children in front of her house in Colorado Springs was killed when she was choked by an electric car window before the other children in the car could notice in time.

Rocker and toggle switches raise and lower windows when pressure is applied, even if accidentally. Lever switches, on the other hand, must be deliberately pulled in order to raise a window.

Janette Fennell of Kids and Cars said lever switches and auto-reverse mechanisms - in which closing windows stop and retract on contact with hard objects - are standard in Europe and Japan. While the top U.S. automakers include these safety features in cars bound for Europe, they typically are not options in domestic models, she said.


January 03, 2006

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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ECG Electrode Placement Not Always Correct

Category: The Latest Baddest

When a doctor examines an electrocardiogram (ECG) he is looking for evidence of normalcy and for signs of ischemia, dysrhythmia, and many other variations of normal. There may be a problem hidden in all those squiggly lines, however. "An under appreciated cause of ECG abnormality is electrode misconnection and misplacement. This occurs when the ECG electrode is mistakenly connected to the wrong part of the body...or is placed improperly on the body... Knowledge of the common patterns of electrode misconnection and misplacement lead to the ready recognition of this phenomenon in everyday practice." Question: how can "under appreciated cause" appear in the same paragraph as "ready recognition"? Emergency Medicine Clinics of North America, Volume 24, Number 1, February 2006

December 31, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Bad Stunt At Waffle House Injures Homeless Man

Category: The Latest Baddest

A homeless man probably likes waffles because he was a regular at a Georgia Waffle House. Unfortunately, the cook decided to have a little fun. He offered the homeless man $5 to drink a toxic mix of industrial-strength dish cleaner and apple juice. The money was so appealing that the homeless man has ended up with significant injuries (including brain damage) and has filed a lawsuit against Waffle House. I side wtih the homeless man. Dish cleaner and apple juice is not a beverage that should be prepared for any purpose at a restaurant. If it is created by an employee I believe the restaurant should be legally responsible. It is also likely, in my opinion, that the cook has shown some signs of being a bad actor before he thought of this particular stunt. The facts are in a news article from Georgia.

December 31, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Missing Instruction To Staff: An MRI Is A Magnet

Category: The Latest Baddest

Because some medical providers did not know or forgot that an MRI is powered by magnets, a 6-year-old boy was killed in a bizarre MRI accident. The child "died after he was struck in the head by a metal oxygen tank that flew into the MRI chamber in which he was lying, pulled by the machine's powerful magnets."

After noticing the boy wasn't receiving oxygen, the anesthesiologist called to two MRI technicians to attend to the oxygen supply. A nurse who was passing by in the hallway outside the MRI scanner room heard the anesthesiologist call for oxygen and handed him the metal tank, which was drawn into the machine, striking the boy in the head and face.
Source


December 30, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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ER's Not Designed To Be Holding Areas For New Hospital Admissions

Category: The Latest Baddest

Emergency rooms are not boarding houses. Patients who are "boarded" in ER's for hours or days waiting for a room are probably at risk. A patient in an ER holding pattern is not likely a priority for the ER staff and, over time, is supposedly the medical responsibility of multiple doctors. The Boston Globe reports on a study of this gurney stacking practice. Why is this obviously risky practice just now being studied?

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December 24, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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People Die When Transplant Program Lies

Category: The Latest Baddest

A California liver transplant program reportedly misrepresented its capabilities to at least nine patients who died waiting for transplants that could never occur. Now juries may decide if these wrongful deaths are deserving of just compensation. Nobody can ever assure survival after a liver transplant, but a program must be honest about its ability to perform the procedure.

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December 12, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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The National Park Service Is Not Mother Nature

Category: The Latest Baddest

National Parks are, by definition I suppose, part of Mother Nature. But, does that mean that a very careless act of the federal government that kills a climber is protected from civil liability? I disagree with the decision of a federal judge who dismissed a wrongful-death lawsuit brought by the family of a young rock climber killed in a 1999 slide in Yosemite Valley. The federal judge apparently bought the defendant's idea that the case amounted to suing Mother Nature. I say our government killed a young man by its negligence.

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December 11, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Fraud On Surgical Patients - Hospitals Are Re-Using Medical Devices

Category: Torts For Our Time

If an auto mechanic repaired your 2004 Explorer with used parts without telling you, would the word fraud come to mind? How would you feel if a hospital used reconditioned, used medical devices during your surgery or, worse, implanted them in your body, without your consent? I would feel used. And, I would believe a jury of my peers would feel the fraudulent use of such devices would justify both compensatory and punitive damages, especially when the used part failed.

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December 03, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Nursing Home Or Storage Shed?

Category: The Latest Baddest

No nursing note for eight days probably explains why an 80 year old nursing home resident died. When she was finally taken to the hospital the resident was found to be dehydrated, with pneumonia, and a blood sugar level that was seven times normal. She also was found to have suffered another heart attack. Somebody needs to explain to Care Manor why it is called a nursing home. If nobody is going to perform nursing services it may want to call itself a storage shed.

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December 02, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Bright This Eye-Drop Manufacturer Is Not

Category: The Latest Baddest

The manufacturing process is never perfect. However, some manufacturing deficiencies are really bad news. The FDA found that an over-the-counter drug manufacturer of eye drops and other products, MBI Distributing, Inc, let things get out of hand and has shut down its California facility with a consent decree. How bad was the facility and manufacturing process? For starters, the facility lacked controls to ensure that its eye drops were sterile. Two eye drop brands were unapproved drugs. Three other products did not provide adequate warnings for their safe use. One of the brand names is Bright Eyes. Bright is not the word that comes to mind when the conduct of MBI Distributing, Inc, is considered.

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November 15, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Foam Kills

Category: The Latest Baddest

The duty to warn. When the hazard is real the product should carry a warning. But, some manufacturers and suppliers would rather conceal the risk of injury or death.

The owners of the Rhode Island nightclub where a 2003 fire killed 100 people are seeking a dismissal of criminal charges on the basis of information that was not provided to the grand jury. The whistle-blower information allegedly withheld from the grand jury, if true, tells us that the supplier of the insulating foam used at the nighclub knew about the flammable nature of the foam and its other potential hazards but intentionally failed to warn about them. Someone needs to spend time with the whistle-blower. My bet would be that the civil trial lawyers representing the families of the deceased club patrons are already two to five steps ahead of the prosecutors in looking into the conduct of the foam manufacturer and supplier.

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November 09, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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Why You May Want To Take The Bus Instead Of The Ambulance

Category: The Latest Baddest

Zachary Meisel, an assistant professor of emergency medicine at the University of Pennsylvania, gives us a peek at what can go wrong during an ambulance ride to the hospital. Dr. Meisel starts with the story of a lady who is killed by a lethal injection stupidly given by the paramedics. There is no other way to describe the mistake. Then, he explains why there is such danger lurking in an ambulance.

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November 06, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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A Corporation Would Allow You To Burn In Your Bed

Category: The Latest Baddest

The defective Sunbeam electric blanket can ignite into flames. Sunbeam learns of the hazard to sleeping consumers, but does not launch a voluntary recall. Why? It was cheaper to pay any resulting claims. Could any corporation really be this bad?

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November 03, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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US Health Care Flunks When Needed

Category: The Latest Baddest

A new survey finds when health care is needed badly in the United States what is received can be pretty bad. Researchers questioned adults who had experienced some kind of serious condition that required "intense" medical treatment or had been hospitalized for something other than routine pregnancy. US health care providers were given a failing grade.

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November 02, 2005

By Greedy Trial Lawyer

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It's Not The Spiders, Stupid!

Category: In Your Face

A rather large number of doctors have obviously concluded that brown spiders have commenced a coordinated assault upon homo sapiens. They have reached this conclusion without the benefit of any scientific evidence and in the face of overwhelming evidence in the medical literature that what they are treating as spider bites (sometimes multiple spider bites) is actually a life-threatening staph infection, MRSA. It would be comical if it were not deadly for some of the misdiagnosed patients.

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