Having moved along the path of destroying the freedoms and rights
hitherto accorded wrongfully injured or defrauded Americans to have
their full day in court via state class actions, George W. Bush is now
pushing the Congress to make it even more difficult to sue for injuries
and fatalities coming from medical negligence or incompetence.
Again and again, George W. Bush demands pain and suffering caps on court
awards for the most serious of human injuries and other restrictions on
these defenseless patients. He complains publicly about "skyrocketing"
costs of "junk lawsuits" against doctors and hospitals. When people ask
him to document these wild assertions with data and quantitative
evidence, he totally ignores their inquiries. For good reason: he
doesn't have the facts. He is trading in unilateral propaganda of the
most reckless kind.
Call it Presidential malpractice, propelled by the Karl Rove-led grudge
against trial lawyers supporting Democrats. His specious stance also
reaps ten of millions of grateful campaign dollars from practitioners
and executives and political action committees associated with insurance
companies, hospital chains and medical societies (the latter declining
to police its own ranks of bad doctors).
The opposition to Mr. Bush's cruel and false positions is almost
entirely defensive. Groups like Public Citizen (citizen.org) and the
Center for Justice and Democracy (centerjd.org) have produced mountains
of factual rebuttals and brought forth the heart-wrenching victims of
bad physician or hospital practices to speak for the freedom to hold
their harmdoers accountable and deter future incompetence and
recklessness in open courts of law.
It is long overdue to go on the offensive against George W. Bush, whose
forked tongue on more than one occasion has said that "the safety of all
Americans is my top priority." Why isn't he lifting a finger on probably
the leading cause of preventable violence going on in the United States
today - deaths and injuries and sickness from the misworkings of the
Although other official estimates are higher, the major report by the
Harvard School of Public Health physicians estimated 80,000 deaths per
year (over 1500 a week) due to medical negligence. Similarly caused
serious injuries run into the hundreds of thousands yearly. According to the authoritative Worst Pills Best Pills book (2005 edition by Dr. Sidney Wolfe; available at www.worstpills.org), misprescribed or
overprescribed medicines are responsible for at least 100,000 deaths
The Bush Administration is perfectly callous toward this daily mayhem.
Bush proposed nothing to Congress about this epidemic of preventable
death, injury and disease. His government does nothing with existing
authority and leverage that could lift up standards and practices; this
would also strengthen the presently weak doctor discipline. His
Department of Health and Human Services runs the National Practitioners
Data Base which collects information on physician malpractice. This is a
start for some so-called "compassionate conservatism." But Bush could
Mr. Bush is obsessed with going after the defenders of these unfortunate
innocent patients, only a small percentage of whom collect any dollar
awards for wrong diagnoses leading to injurious procedures or
negligently performed operations and treatments. A surgical removal of
the wrong breast or foot or kidney receives some headlines. The vast
majority of harmed patients die or suffer out of sight of cheap
politicians, arrogant practitioners and corporations.
The millions of Americans who have been mistreated, their caring family
members, competent physicians and nurses and consumer organizations must
put the spotlight and heat on the White House and its dissembling
President, before he destroys more of the people's freedom to fight back
and defend themselves.
As Business Week magazine has editorialized, the medical malpractice
crisis is medical malpractice.