Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003


Saturday, September 22, 2012

Decisions not public

      Decisions in ‘negligent-credentialing’
      lawsuit still not filed in clerk's office

By David Baker
Posted Saturday Sept. 22, 2012

Six weeks after the settlement of the Susan Stalker vs. Samaritan Hospital lawsuit, decisions made by the judge on last-minute motions still have not been filed in the office of the county clerk.

The lawsuit ended, six years after it was filed, on July, 30,  the first day of trial.  On that day, several motions were due to be decided by state Supreme Court Justice Stephen A. Ferradino.

After a motion is decided, the winning attorney is required to file the decision and order with the clerk.

But as of Sept. 20, the last item listed on the county clerk’s web page was shown as filed on July 27 -- three days before the start of the trial.

A letter inquiring about the missing documents was sent to the clerk of the Supreme Court  earlier this month.  There has been no response.

Along with the decision, other documents might indicate the terms of the apparent settlement of the case.  It is this information that attorneys for the hospital would want to keep from the public.  And not just the hospital’s lawyers; back before the case was settled, Stalker’s attorneys told her they didn’t want anything in the newspapers.

Until about four years ago, keeping news of medical malpractice lawsuits from the public was easy;  the newspapers ignored them -- while receiving a steady stream of advertising revenue from the area’s hospitals.

But now, with this blog and its sister web page, northeasthealthclaims, listing many of these lawsuits, the attorneys are apparently withholding public documents from view -- and ignoring the rules of the court in doing it.

BACK IN JUNE, before the Stalker vs. Samaritan Hospital and Akiva Abraham ‘negligent-credentialing’ lawsuit ended, an e-mail about the case was sent to Times Union reporter Robert Gavin.  Gavin covers legal issues for the paper.

Gavin responded by asking that one of the documents in the case be e-mailed to him.

It was.  But no story appeared.

After the case -- according to the court’s web page -- ended with a  settlement,  a tweet was sent to Gavin.  He answered, and in response to his e-mailed request for ‘info’, it was pointed out that not only had there been a settlement, but that the court’s decisions had not been filed as required - an apparent effort  to keep details of the settlement from public view - making it doubly newsworthy.

That was back on Sept. 1.   There has been nothing further from Gavin.

And the TU’s six-year record of ignoring this case of obvious public interest continues.

AT THE END OF LAST WEEK, after a tweet was posted on Twitter about the Times Union’s non-coverage of lawsuits against area hospitals, TU reporter Jordan Carleo-Evangelist tweeted his opinion --  insisting that it was not because of advertising revenue the paper receives from hospitals -- and claiming that such a suggestion was an attack on his colleagues ethics. 

After a series of tweets back and forth (see below), he was then asked to say what, if not the ad revenue, he think is the reason for the non coverage.

That was over a week ago.  He still has not responded.

HOSPITALS DON'T MAKE JUST MEDICAL ERRORS; they also make billing mistakes, like this one in 2003 when Lisa’s insurance was charged several thousand dollars for a single insulin shot.

Click then click on ‘billing error’ to download a 1-page letter sent in response to a request for an itemized bill.

Tuesday, September 18, 2012

Book quote

From the book ‘Unaccountable: What Hospitals Won’t Tell You: and How Transparency Can Revolutionize Health Care,’   by Marty Makary, M.D.

“If you want to see a hospital jump to enact large-scale reform, just watch when a journalist cracks open the story of bad medical care.   I’ve never seen hospital administrators move as fast as they do when their public image needs repair.   It’s the code blue for hospital administration.”


Sunday, September 16, 2012

An unanswerd question

            Times Union reporter defends paper’s
            non-coverage of malpractice lawsuits

By David Baker
Posted Sunday Sept. 16, 2012

Despite repeated requests over the past eight years, Times Union editor Rex Smith has never commented on the suggestion that his paper has ignored dozens of lawsuits alleging medical malpractice and negligence filed against healthcare providers in its circulation area because those providers supply a steady stream of advertising revenue to the paper.

But while Smith has remained silent, one of his reporters has jumped in to defend his colleagues from what he calls an attack on their ethics.

The reporter is Jordan Carleo-Evangelist.  After I posted a public Twitter message on Thursday addressed to Robert Gavin, the paper’s legal reporter, Carleo-Evangelist tweeted the following:

“You should probably check out my colleague Cathleen Crowley’s award-winning series on medical errors.”

Carleo-Evangelist was referring to a series of stories run in several Hearst newspapers in August 2009 about medical errors.  Crowley, a Times Union reporter covering medical issues, wrote some of the articles.

To which I posted the following tweet:

“That was good work.  But it doesn’t offset TWELVE YEARS of silence on medical errors.”

Then I sent another public tweet, addressed to both Carleo-Evangelist and Crowley:

“Honestly, do either of u really think that none of the stories on my site are newsworthy.”

To which Carleo-Evangelist replied: 

“I honestly haven’t had time to read them.  But I promise we wouldn’t hold back to protect an advertiser. If true, I’d quit.”

I replied:  “OK, so why not find a little time – then suggest another reason why the TU has ignored them.”

And then I tweeted:

 “JCEvangelist-TU defends TU reporters Robert Gavin and Cathleen Crowley from non-existent web attack then reveals he hasn’t seen the page.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:.  “There are hundreds of civil suits, maybe thousands, in our area that don’t get written about every year.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST again:  “You’re the one making the accusations. Now you’re saying I need to prove them wrong. That’s not how it works.”

And again:

“But it’s easy for you to lob around allegations you have no proof of.  In nine years, I’ve never once been told or asked to defer to an advertiser.  It’s never come up. And if it ever did, I’d be gone shortly thereafter.”

“What I can promised is that Rob Gavin) and Cathleen (Crowley) are hard-working and honest. I’m not going to speak for them.”

DB:  “I think my page makes a compelling case for my claim.  And your editor has ignored repeated requests since 2004 for comment.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “Well then, you must be right.”

DB:  “Maybe.  But at least I don’t defend a claim without reviewing the argument for it.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “Incorrect.  I didn’t say I hadn’t seen your page. I said I hadn’t read the 1000s of words on it.  Facts matter.”

DB:  “OK:  So which of the items you read are an attack on your colleagues’ ethics?

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “You saying we hold back on stories because of advertisers is an attack on their ethics. Pretty clear cut.”

DB  “I have said TU management is ignoring these stories.  I think – and hope – that most reporters are uncomfortable with that.”

CARLEO-EVANGELIST:  “How can we be uncomfortable with something that’s not true?”

DB:  “Reporters who think I question their ethics are wrong – it’s the management of the Times Union that has sold out … For an explanation of this claim, see my letter to the publisher of the Times Union on the download page of”

The next morning I tweeted a suggestion to Carleo-Evangelist, in which I referred to a story on about a now-settled lawsuit in which Samaritan Hospital is alleged to have negligently granted staff privileges to a now-former gynecologist who performed an unnecessary and unauthorized surgery.

“How about reading this story (on the negligent-credentialing lawsuit) and then saying why you think it has never been mentioned in the TU.”

That is essentially the same question I have been asking Smith, the editor, for all these years.

So far, Carleo-Evangelist, like, Smith, hasn’t come up with a response.


Twitter: @answersforlisa

Friday, September 14, 2012

Discovery continues

                            Demands for documents exchanged
                   in Samaritan Hospital vs. Web page

By David Baker
Posted Friday Sept. 14, 2012

The process known as paper discovery continues in Samaritan Hospital’s lawsuit against a web page that lists previously unreported medical-malpractice lawsuits.  At the end of August, a lawyer for the hospital served a ‘notice to produce’, asking for various documents, such as ones showing the number of hits to the page. That is a routine demand and will be complied with when a response is served next week.

But some of the demands the lawyer has made are clearly irrelevant to this case.  For example, he wants a copy of every item posted on the blog Answers for Lisa.

That blog has been up since 2004 - but it wasn’t until 2008 that stories about lawsuits filed against healthcare providers appeared on It.  Until then it consisted  mainly of a running account of the lawsuit against Samaritan Hospital over the death of my wife, Lisa.

The current lawsuit complains only about the domain name northeasthealthclaims and about the use on that site of a logo; it is not about the Answers for Lisa blog. This demand is for material that is irrelevant, and without a court order it will not be provided.

Furthermore - and most significantly - the hospital’s lawsuit on its face is not about the content of the northeasthealthclaims page - although clearly the real intent of this suit, with its claims for money damages, is an attempt to suppress information that compliant newspaper editors have ignored for the past 12 years.

As well as responding to this demand, I have filed my own notice to produce.  Among the documents I am asking for are: records of the amount Northeast Health, Inc. has paid for advertising in newspapers, television and radio in each year since 2003; a copy of every newsletter distributed by the company in that time; and the total budget for its internal and external public relations.

Northeast Health will almost certainly object to this demand, but it is claiming – without producing any evidence – that I have caused actual damage to its reputation, so this information is clearly relevant.

I am also asking for records showing the total amount that has been paid out to settle malpractice and negligence claims against any facility owned or operated by Northeast Health since 2003.

Meanwhile, I have received a transcript of my deposition in this case, which I will check for any incorrectly transcribed testimony and sign.