Here's a little more info:Texas Attorney General Greg Abbott is going out of his way to defend four civil lawsuits against a hospital accused of allowing a “sociopathic” neurosurgeon to treat patients.
None of the suits name the state, but the Dallas Morning News reported that Abbott has asked a federal court for permission to represent Baylor Regional Medical Center of Plano in the suits related to Dr. Christopher Duntsch.
The physician practiced medicine and performed “minimally invasive” spinal procedures in the north Texas area for two years before losing his license in 2013 after the deaths of two patients and the paralysis of four others.
The suits claim Baylor put revenue ahead of patient safety by overlooking the Duntsch’s substantial substance abuse issues and doing nothing to stop him from treating patients.
The physician told the newspaper Baylor made about $65,000 profit on each procedure he performed. - Raw Story, 4/10/14
Here's a little more info about Duntsch:The suits challenge the constitutionality of a state law that requires the plaintiffs to prove that Baylor acted with actual intent to harm patients. Abbott seeks court permission to defend the statute.
If Abbott’s position is upheld, the patients would have a much harder time winning a suit against Baylor. One of the plaintiffs’ attorneys, James Girards of Dallas, criticized the attorney general’s motion.
“I think it’s absolutely insane that he has chosen to defend the hospital that enabled this … sociopathic neurosurgeon to wreak havoc on its patients,” Girards said. “I hate to think he’s doing it to pander to the medical lobby.”
Kay Van Wey, a Dallas lawyer who filed two of the suits, also attacked the attorney general. “Mr. Abbott is making it clear that his priority is to protect hospitals, not the patients they harm,” she said.
On Tuesday, Baylor lawyer John Scully said: “We disagree with the plaintiffs’ claims about the statute at issue.”
Abbott, who is running for governor, is not required by law to defend the statute but has the legal right to do so. A spokeswoman said Tuesday the attorney general would not comment on the matter.
Duntsch performed a number of “minimally invasive” spine surgeries at Baylor Plano in 2012. He was later accused of botching many of the procedures. - The Dallas Morning News, 3/25/14
Pretty sick, right? But sadly, it's not surprising with Republicans like Texas running things:Duntsch, an engaging and fast-talking son of missionaries, came to North Texas with uncommon credentials. He had a doctorate in molecular biology as well as a medical degree from the University of Tennessee medical school, where he also had been an assistant professor in neurosurgery. And he had trained at the well-regarded Semmes-Murphey Neurologic & Spine Institute in Memphis.
In 2011, he was recruited to the Dallas area by the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, which specialized in endoscopic back surgery. That involves the insertion of a thin, flexible tube with a video camera and instruments through a small incision.
Dr. Michael Rimlawi and Dr. Douglas Won, the institute’s directors, reached an agreement with Baylor Plano for Duntsch to operate there. He was to be paid a base salary of $600,000 a year, plus bonuses and expenses.
If Duntsch did well and built his practice, even greater financial success could follow. “In Dallas,” he said, “if you are an aggressive neurosurgeon, you can earn $3 million a year easily.”
But, Duntsch said, problems developed right away with the Minimally Invasive Spine Institute, including its failure to obtain malpractice insurance for him. Also, “they were talking about millions of dollars in marketing,” he said. “But when I got here they were nearly bankrupt.”
Won declined to talk to The News about Duntsch. Rimlawi did not respond to requests for comment.
Duntsch said he then cut his own deal with Baylor Plano president Jerri Garison. “She said, ‘We want you to build your practice here,’” Duntsch recalled.
He set about doing that. But one of the first signs of trouble came on Dec. 30, 2011, when Duntsch performed back surgery on Lee Passmore of Frisco, a field agent for the Collin County medical examiner.
Passmore said he had been referred to Duntsch by another doctor, and he was impressed when they met. “He had this air about him,” Passmore said of Duntsch. “He knew what the problem was, he was going to fix it, and everything was going to turn out great.”
Passmore’s surgery was a spinal fusion, a procedure that uses metal implants and bone grafts to stabilize adjoining vertebrae.
But a second surgeon assisting Duntsch on Passmore’s operation became deeply concerned. There was excessive blood loss, he said, and Duntsch was removing part of the spine unnecessarily.
“I said, ‘What you’re doing is dangerous,’” the second surgeon recalled. “‘I’ve done 5,000 of these, and I’ve never seen this done before.’”
The surgeon, who agreed to speak to The News only if his name was not revealed, said he then grabbed Duntsch’s instruments to stop him from operating. “I said, ‘We’ve got a lot of blood loss, and you can’t see what you’re doing.’”
Ultimately, the surgeon said, the situation was resolved and the procedure continued. But he had this summation of Duntsch’s skills: “He was a disaster.”
Duntsch scoffed at the surgeon’s story. All the confusion, he said, was caused by the other doctor’s haste. “He told me that he was in a hurry, that he was actually in the middle of another procedure,” Duntsch said. “The whole procedure was ridiculous. … We were pushing against each other.”
A week later, Duntsch did a second surgery on Passmore, and he said it worked out well. “The patient did just fine,” Duntsch said. “He did wonderful.”
That’s news to the patient. “Clearly he’s wrong,” Passmore said. “He’s mistaken.”
Passmore, 39, is one of those who have filed suit against Baylor. His suit claims that Duntsch “misplaced the surgical hardware in Passmore’s spine.”
He’s now in chronic pain that is much worse than before, Passmore said. Baylor Plano should have seen immediately that it had a problem, said Passmore’s lawyer, James Girards, but Duntsch was making money.
“They had a stiff financial incentive not to look too closely,” he said.
Less than two weeks after the operating-room struggle over Passmore, Duntsch performed a spinal fusion on a 45-year-old man. He was assisted by Dr. Randall Kirby. Kirby’s job as an access surgeon was to move some of the patient’s organs and blood vessels aside so that Duntsch could reach the spine from the front of the body.
Before the surgery began, Kirby said, he had an unusual conversation with Duntsch. “He felt most of the spine surgery being done in Dallas was malpractice, and he was going to have to clean things up,” Kirby wrote. “I’m not kidding — that’s what he said.”
As Duntsch began to operate, Kirby watched in disbelief. “Dr. Duntsch’s performance … was pathetic on what should have been a fairly easy case,” Kirby later wrote to the Texas Medical Board. Duntsch was functioning at the level of a surgeon-in-training, Kirby said.
Duntsch had trouble removing the spinal disc, Kirby said, and “seemed to be struggling getting the [fusion] device into position.” - Dallas Morning News, 3/1/14
Seriously, this type of crazy, dangerous shit is not only going to continue but get worse if Abbott's elected Governor. That's why we need to get Wendy Davis (D. TX) elected. Davis by the way recently met with President Obama:Duntsch’s former patients argue that the hospital is being protected by a Texas law, HB 4, which they argue is unconstitutional. But unlike lawsuits involving abortion regulations, for example, the plaintiffs are not suing the state to block the law. That means the State of Texas is not a party to this dispute and could, if it wanted to, let this private lawsuit move forward without devoting a single state dollar to it.
Instead, Republican Attorney General Greg Abbott is coming to the law’s, and the hospital’s, defense—at the same time that he is defending HB 2, Texas’ omnibus anti-abortion law that was enacted, conservatives say, because the hospital admitting privileges that the law requires of abortion-providing doctors will guarantee a higher standard of care.
In inserting his office into this case—one in which admitting privileges not only did not increase the standard of care, but created a situation wherein a hospital appears to have had a vested interest in protecting a negligent, and potentially deliberately harmful but money-making doctor to whom it had granted admitting privileges—Abbott is seeking to make it harder for patients who are victims of bad doctors at hospitals to obtain restitution for harm done.
If Abbott cares about Texans who would be harmed by bad doctors—bad doctors with hospital admitting privileges—it seems a strange move to go out of his way to ensure that patients have as little recourse as possible to address that harm.
As it turns out, Republicans in Texas have a long history of attacking health-care access in the state, and it’s a history not confined to only curbing abortion access and cutting off family planning services.
Back in 2003, Texas conservatives drastically re-shaped the state’s medical malpractice laws with HB 4, to the extent that, for most Texans, the possibility of holding negligent doctors and hospitals liable for bad medical care just simply isn’t an option. This is the law Abbott is defending.
Medical malpractice claims are often complex and expensive. To prove a claim of medical malpractice, a plaintiff typically must show that a provider violated the standard of care in their treatment and that the violation injured them. Medical malpractice claims are also typically claims of negligence, which means the plaintiff doesn’t have to prove that the doctor or provider’s mistake was intentional, just that it deviated enough from what should have happened that it’s fair to have the doctor or provider help pay for the damages that the mistake caused. This is especially true in the context of medical negligence, because the costs related to an injury are often extreme. In the worst cases, a patient dies; but in other cases, the patient and their family can be left carrying the cost of their uninsured medical expenses and future care, which in cases of severe injury tops millions of dollars in a lifetime.
Like other tort reform measures, which seek to reform personal injury law, HB 4 did little to advance patient safety but did much to insulate negligent doctors and hospitals from malpractice damage awards. HB 4 restricts the rights of patients in several dangerous ways. First, it imposes a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages in a malpractice suit. Non-economic damages are the only kind of compensation a jury can award for the injury itself, as opposed to compensation for things like lost wages, attorneys’ fees, and medical bills.
“This bill was passed despite there being no data to support that these kinds of damages caps keep costs down or help patients,” Alex Winslow, executive director of the consumer protection advocacy group Texas Watch, explained to RH Reality Check. “The data just isn’t there.” - RH Reality Check, 4/10/14
And of course Republicans want to take the focus off Abbott so they're attacking Davis:President Barack Obama met briefly Thursday with state Sen. Wendy Davis, the Democratic nominee for governor.
The White House says Obama visited with Davis at the LBJ Presidential Library in Austin. That's where Obama delivered a speech commemorating the 50th anniversary of the Civil Rights Act.
Davis spokesman Zac Petkanas said Obama and Davis discussed the importance of the 1965 Voting Rights Act, which was also signed by President Lyndon B. Johnson, and the law's legacy in Texas. - Houston Chronicle, 4/10/14
By the way, Davis will be speaking at a very big event soon:President Obama had a very brief meeting Thursday with a notable Texas politician, but it was enough to inject himself into the local governor's race.
Obama spoke briefly with Democratic gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis after his civil rights speech at the Lyndon Johnson presidential library.
No cameras recorded the event, but the campaign of Republican candidate Greg Abbott quickly responded.
"Sen. Davis stated last month that she would not shy away from President Obama's visit to Texas, yet in another flip-flop, she instead decided to meet with him in secret -- away from the public and refusing to mention what they discussed," said a statement from Abbott spokesman Matt Hirsch.
He added: "We can only assume President Obama and Sen. Davis bonded over their shared support of ObamaCare and limiting Second Amendment rights. Texans want a governor who shares there values, not someone who wants to bring Obama's big government agenda and failed liberal values to our great state." - USA Today, 4/10/14
Click here if you want to donate and get involved with Davis' campaign:Texas Black Expo (TBE), host of Texas' largest African-American empowerment festival, announces State Senator Wendy Davis, democratic candidate for governor, will deliver the keynote address at the TBE Corporate Luncheon, Friday, June 20, 2014, 12:30 p.m., Four Seasons Hotel, 1300 Lamar Street, Houston. TBE is a nonprofit organization with a mission to stimulate growth and development within Texas' urban communities by strengthening businesses, inspiring youth, and building better lives.
"I am honored to speak before Texas Black Expo, an organization dedicated to strengthening Texas business and improving the lives of Texans," said Senator Wendy Davis. "Whether it's making sure Texas children have access to a 21st century education, or making sure families are paid equally for the same work, I will fight for all Texans as your next governor."
The TBE Corporate Luncheon, which is co-presented by the Texas Legislative Black Caucus, is a featured event at the 11th Annual TBE Summer Celebration, June 19-22, in Houston. The luncheon will gather the foremost business and community leaders, TBE corporate sponsors, and elected officials from across the state to help commence the action-packed, weekend of events.
"TBE isn't focused on politics; the priority is to empower everyone with positive messages, and powerful experience," said Jerome Love, president, TBE. "Our corporate partners support the Expo because they are committed to helping Texas' diverse communities thrive. Senator Davis is committed to Texas, and all Texans, and I know her luncheon keynote will resonate with all attendees." - Digital Journal, 4/10/14