Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, November 11, 2005

The questions remain

Two years and still no answers

By David Baker

It was during this month in 2003 that Lisa put her life into the hands of the nurses and doctors at Troy’s Samaritan Hospital.

And came out dead.

Now, two years later, I am still looking for an explanation of what happened in room 4018 on the night of Nov. 11, 2003.

I am still looking for answers for Lisa.

Not that anyone else wants to know.

Not the state Health Department. The agency took seven months to come out with what can only be called a whitewash, ignoring any fact that would stand in the way of its conclusion that the hospital was not responsible for the consequences of allowing an insulin-dependent diabetic’s blood sugar to drop to almost zero.

Not state Assemblyman Richard Gottfried. Gottfried could – and should – have the Assembly Health Committee he controls examine this and other determinations. Instead he writes a puff piece for the New York Post about how the department is not going after bad doctors, while ignoring a request to ask some hard questions about Lisa’s case.

Not the press. “Watchdog journalism” may be what the management of the Times Union is boasting about now, but for the past eight years the paper has routinely suppressed stories about lawsuits alleging malpractice at medical institutions in the Capital Region, while accepting perhaps millions of dollars in advertising revenue from those same institutions. Just how much of that money came from Northeast Health Inc. – the parent company of Samaritan Hospital – is information I can and will demand in the pending lawsuit filed on Lisa’s behalf.

And of course, not the hospital itself, which is allowing its insurance carrier to spend some of the immense wealth it has accumulated from inflated premiums to do everything it can to obstruct and delay what the law is supposed to do:

Reveal the truth.

So an estimated 98,000 people died each year in this country as a result of preventable medical errors.

That’s a terrible tragedy that calls out for action.

But money talks even louder. And a lot of people are listening.