Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Friday, May 23, 2008

Web site planned

New Web page to list
malpractice claims

By David Baker
Posted Friday, May 23, 2008

Over the past month, summaries of a very few of the many medical malpractice lawsuits pending against Capital District medical providers have been presented here. Now details of the new Web page that will list these lawsuits have been decided.

* The page will list only lawsuits filed. It cannot and will not attempt to show the outcome of any suit.

* Lawsuits, once added, will remain permanently on the page.

* Lawsuits filed in 2005 and 2006 in Rensselaer and Albany counties will be added first. Then the list will expand back, a year at a time, to at least 2000, and then to filings in Schenectady County.

* All lawsuits will be added, whether they are active or concluded.

* The page will have two separate, prominent sections that will be directly accessible from the home page. One will highlight any lawsuit alleging one or more of the 27 “never events” (see below). Later, a second section will present new filings.

* The page will go online without any announcement on this page, which will now become dormant. At the appropriate time, steps will be taken to make the public at large aware of the new site.

* The page will have a link back to this page, where most of the items will remain but will be reorganized in a manner that will enable people to get full details of the case that led to the new site.

It is believed that new page will be the first of its kind in the nation, and that it will provide a permanent resource for those seeking information about specific Capital District providers, and, in time, as a data base of statistics on the numbers of medical malpractice lawsuits filed in a relatively self contained area of the country.

It is recognized that some lawsuits are filed in which there was no negligence. It is also true that because of the insurance companies’ aggressive defense of every claim, many more lawsuits that have merit end after years of brutal litigation without any compensation or closure for the victims. Some providers will be listed on the page when there was no negligence. That is a consequence of allowing insurance companies, on behalf of the provider, to deny and defend every claim.

Although insurance companies and lawyers make the decisions, it is the medical facilities and individual providers whose names appear on lawsuits, and will soon be listed on a readily accessible Web page It is hoped that those providers will be now prompted to reduce the number of lawsuits filed for medical malpractice.

The best and most obvious way to do this is to reduce the number of deaths and injuries caused by errors and negligence.

Next, they must insist that errors are acknowledged and where appropriate, reasonable compensation provided. Programs in other parts of the country have shown that most people don’t sue if errors are immediately disclosed. They sue when the provider appears to be hiding something.

Nothing will stop every error that leads to a bad outcome but acknowledging a mistake is the first step toward preventing it happening again and allowing everyone – victims and providers – to move on.

That must be better than continuing with the present system, which serves only to deny many injured people appropriate compensation while greatly enriching liability insurance companies and their lawyers.

(A “never event” is a list of events which the National Quality Forum says should never occur, and for which a growing number of health insurance companies are refusing to pay.

One of those never events is hypoglycemia – low blood sugar – that occurs while a person is a patient in a healthcare facility.

In 2003, Lisa Baker died three weeks after she was found in her bed in Samaritan Hospital near death and – according to the hospital’s own records – with a blood sugar of just 2 mg/dL.

Any measurement below 60 mg/dL is considered hypoglycemia.)