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Negligence Bonanza
May 23, 2003

Doctors' mistakes cause insurance 'crisis'

MEDICAL NEGLIGENCE killed my wife, Mary Sagen, in 1996. She was 45 years old. Her young daughter, her mother, her brothers and I all miss her terribly.

An article in the Nov. 23 Commentary section by Dr. Glenn Keiper, a Eugene neurosurgeon, rails against the legal profession, the courts and "suit happy" victims for supposedly increasing the cost of medical malpractice insurance in Oregon. Keiper's column was glaring in its omissions, and it failed to address the real issue: Needless mistakes kill and injure a shockingly large number of patients.

Well-regarded studies reported in The Register-Guard estimate that misprescribed and over-the-counter drugs alone kill more than 100,000 Americans every year. Another 100,000 die in hospitals each year because of preventable errors. Injuries from medical negligence are estimated at 1 million.

With such an ongoing national crisis, one might hope doctors would join in the outcry for accountability and for safer medicine. What is the medical community doing to eliminate needless mistakes, which would be the easiest and most obvious way to cut malpractice insurance costs?

Medical safety advocate Dr. Sidney Wolf, director of Public Citizen, and Thomas Moore, author of "Prescription for Disaster," conclude that serious and fatal medical mistakes could be reduced by half or more. Recommended actions include mandatory reporting of all medical mistakes to the Food and Drug Administration on who is getting hurt and why; computer cross-checking at the pharmacy that could reduce drug interactions and prescription errors; and doctor prescriptions that are not handwritten.

The FDA estimates that only 1 out of 10 deaths or serious injuries are reported; however, many experts believe that it is closer to 1 out of 100. With mandatory reporting, the FDA would know more quickly which medical practices and procedures are safe and which are not.

The medical community admits it is reluctant to report medical mistakes to quality improvement groups such as the FDA, fearing that this information might be used against them. This seems like trying to justify a hit-and-run when involved in an auto accident.

Full Story Here

Doctors' Mistakes Causing Penile Damage

Complications from circumcision are much higher than previously thought; over two-thirds of penile trauma cases seen in hospitals are due to doctors' mistakes during circumcisions a new study says.

"Fear, pain, crippling, disfigurement and humiliation are the classic ways
to break the human spirit. Circumcision includes them all."

Not only is the patient's health in jeopardy, doctors are liable for these mistakes. The most common doctor's mistakes are damaging the urethra, removing too much tissue, and glans amputation.

Dr. George Denniston, director of Doctors Opposing Circumcision said,
"Circumcision is not risk free. It is too risky for elective surgery. If parents knew how many times surgeons botched this operation, they would keep their baby boys far, far away from the circumciser's knives. Medical students often perform circumcision unsupervised. Sometimes a circumcised boy is sent home without the parents ever being informed of problems that occurred during or as a result of the circumcision until penile dysfunction becomes obvious years later. At other times, additional surgery is immediately required and, in some cases, the boy is sexually re-assigned as a girl."

"I will go to my grave hearing the screams of a tormented baby in my ears,"
says Marilyn Milos, Director of the National Organizations of Circumcision Information Resource Centers (NOCIRC) about the first circumcision she witnessed in nursing school. "As I watched in disbelief, I began to cry. The doctor looked up at me and said, 'There is no medical reason for doing this.
' Surely, this pain and suffering is an unacknowledged complication, too.
More and more studies are showing that a host of complications arise from
circumcision-not only physical trauma as illustrated in this study, but emotional trauma and sexual dysfunction, too. All circumcised men exhibit
one or more complications. Many of these men are suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder because of circumcision, while we wonder why they aren't emotionally available to loved ones."

Liability for this surgery is increasing as more malpractice lawsuits are being filed to compensate for complications.

Full Story Here

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