Myths of Medical Malpractice

I wanted to share a very good article that reveals some truths about medical malpractice in our country.   It might be hoped that articles debunking the common myths about medical malpractice and “tort-reform” legislation would not still be necessary, but false beliefs have a tenacity that is sometimes hard to explain.  Maybe it’s just that people tend to believe untrue things when the belief in those false things serves some other conscious or unconscious purpose.  Nonetheless, belief in fairy tales is no basis for making laws that affect all of us when we visit a hospital or doctor’s office.

This article is important not just because it shows the falsity of these myths, but because of who wrote it and who published it.   A physician and a professor collaborated to write an article entitled Five Myths of Medical Malpractice.  In the article, the authors examine certain false beliefs – including the belief that the civil jury trial system delivers unusually high verdicts, and the belief that physicians move to states with damage caps (caps on the amount of money a person can receive in a malpractice case).  These and a few other common falsehoods are exposed in detail and with plenty of supporting evidence.

It is also revealing that the journal Chest published this article This is a peer-reviewed journal of the American College of Chest Physicians.   My hope is that the physician-readers will study this article with an open mind and begin to at least wonder whether the whole “tort-reform” movement is simply a manufactured “crisis” that may serve insurance companies needs, but does nothing to help physicians and, more importantly, does nothing to make patients safer.

Citizen Alert: Special Interests Trying to Take Away Our Right to Trial By Jury in Medical Malpractice Cases

One thing that many large corporations and insurance companies can’t stand is that ordinary citizens in Georgia and across the United States have the right to trial by jury in civil cases.  This sacred right runs against the mindset of those who believe that only large companies and the wealthy should get to make the rules.  Whether it’s environmental contamination, medical negligence, unsafe trucks on the road or defective products, many companies would rather blame their victims for the harm they cause instead of acting more safely.   Juries scare these companies because juries can make them act more safely and hold them responsible when they don’t.

These special interests are always on the prowl, looking for ways to take away our rights, often by passing laws that close the courthouse doors to us.  But the problem is that these companies can’t just come out openly and say “we want to enact laws that take away your right to trial by jury and that deny you the right to hold us accountable when we harm you, harm your families, harm your neighbors or damage your property.”  They know everyone would reject such obvious attempts at one-sided legislation.

Instead, these corporations and their allies in the PR business are much slicker than that – they come up with really nice-sounding names for their proposed laws so we won’t seek the rotten core of what lurks beneath the surface.  One such recent attempt in Georgia is by an outfit calling itself the “Patients for Fair Compensation” and they are trying to get the Georgia legislature to adopt a law – called the Patient Injury Act – that takes away our right to trial by jury in cases where Georgia citizens are injured by the actions of corporate hospitals and healthcare providers.  As Georgia Watch reports, this group is actually led by healthcare industry executives who are seeking to shut the courthouse doors for the oldest of reasons – they don’t want to be responsible to us for the terrible harms that can be caused by medical negligence.

Ordinary citizens who cause a wreck on the road or otherwise harm someone can be held accountable by a fair jury of 12 citizens in Georgia.  Why should these healthcare corporations and other monied special interests get special privileges that the rest of us don’t have?  There is no reasonable excuse for this type of law that takes away our Constitutional rights, and we should let our Georgia lawmakers know we won’t accept it.  Please take a minute to call your Georgia state legislator and let them know that you don’t approve of Senate Bill 141.  And if they vote for it, let’s hold them responsible at the ballot box.

Risk of Fire and Injury from Home Dryers

I wanted to share some information that I came across about the dangers associated with dryers in homes.  According to this recent article by Brian Dakss at, dryers account for 15,000 house fires every year.   That number was a bit of a surprise to me.  An engineer with Underwriters Laboratory, John Drengenberg, mentions in the article that a common cause of these fires is lint.  The lint can build up in the lint trap, according to Drengenberg, and cause excessive heat and eventually a fire.

So, what should we do?  Drengenberg advises folks to clean the lint trap before or after every load, and each year the pipes and exhaust vent should be cleaned thoroughly.  Also, we should not put certain items stained with oil or gasoline in the dryer, and should avoid putting rubber or plastic items in the dryer as well.

One clue to look for to determine if lint is building up is that your clothes are not drying as well as they should.


Fatalities in Auto Wrecks: Bibb County, Houston County, and statewide in Georgia

The Macon Telegraph reported this weekend that there were 1,191 fatalities in traffic wrecks statewide in Georgia, 17 in Houston County, and 18 in Bibb County.  While the numbers are down from 2002, this is still far too many lives being lost in traffic collisions.   Amy Leigh Womack reports in this article that most of the wrecks were caused by impaired driving, driver error or excessive speed.

To minimize your risk, apply common sense.  Our lives are full of distractions – cell phones, fast food lunches in the car, application of make-up, etc. are all distractions that can cause wrecks in a vehicle.  So, when you are in a vehicle just focus on driving, and think about the lives and injuries you can prevent just by being a considerate driver and avoiding the common distractions that can cause loss of life or terrible injuries.  And of course, it should go without saying – don’t drink and drive, don’t drive while impaired or excessively tired, and don’t text and drive!

Avoiding Injuires from Auto Accidents and Other Safety Tips

I hope one of your resolutions is to make 2013 safer than 2012.  Consumer Reports has come up with a list of 10 valuable safety tips that I hope you will take  minute to read.  Some of the tips are expected, like the advice to wear a helmet when riding a motorcycle and the recommendation to wear a seat belt.

But a couple of the other tips were less obvious.  For example, CR suggest that you stop at all stop signs and red lights.  This is (or should be) obvious also.  But what many of you may not know is that 676 people were killed in 2009 because drivers did not stop at red lights.   That number was very surprising to me.   That’s just a staggering number of deaths from a very specific, and preventable, careless act.

Also, yielding to pedestrians and bicycles takes on even more importance when you consider that 12 percent of motor vehicle deaths involve pedestrians and 2 percent involve bicycles.  Folks on bikes and pedestrians are vulnerable and we should all be extra careful driving around them.

Please read these valuable safety tips and let’s make 2013 the safest year yet.