Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Sunday, August 28, 2011

Ending the silence

Web page to be
widely promoted

By David Baker
Posted Sunday, Aug. 28 2011

The audience for this page has until now been small, with most of the area’s population unaware of it.

But that is about to change.

In the coming weeks, an aggressive plan that will bring the page to people across the Capital Region will begin.

This will be the beginning of the end of a conspiracy that for more than a decade has allowed medical providers, lawyers and the media to profit from errors and negligence that have killed and injured dozens of people.

This conspiracy has meant that:

* The providers have been able to keep their mistakes out of public view and thus have had less incentive to stop them from happening;

* Providers have been able to fight most lawsuits, even when they know they are liable for a death or injury, without any bad publicity;

* Lawyers on both sides have greatly increased their income as they allow cases to drag on for years, with none of the news stories that would damage a provider’s public image;

* Claims, when they eventually are settled, cost the public most far more then they would if liability had been acknowledged immediately, as both the settlement amounts and all the inflated legal costs are paid by insurance carriers, resulting in higher liability insurance premiums for the providers – which are then passed on to the public either directly in providers’ bills or as high health insurance premiums or taxes.

* The news media, without which none of this could be happening, have, for more than a decade, received a steady stream of advertising revenue from providers who are buying their silence.

And while all the participants in this alliance have benefited, dozens of people have died or received an injury that was totally preventable; a situation that will continue as long as providers put far more effort into hiding their mistakes and avoiding responsibility than they do stopping all these tragedies from happening.

This has to change.

In the past month, both the hospitals and the area’s largest newspaper have been presented in writing with an opportunity to abandon their alliance and start acting in the public interest; the hospitals by immediately acknowledging errors and where appropriate, offering compensation, and the newspaper by reporting the few lawsuits that will still be filed against the providers.

There was has been no response.

Therefore, a project will start soon to bring this page to the attention of most of the Capital Region.

Hospitals in other parts of the country have seen significant declines in lawsuits after they began acknowledging errors promptly. But here in the Capital District, those benefiting from their alliance are unwilling to give it up.

That’s why, very soon, they will be forced to do it.