Here’s an example of obtuse. BMJ just came out with a study of so-called “defensive medicine,” the notion that doctors order unnecessary tests for the sole purpose of protecting themselves from malpractice suits. We’ve always believed this entire theory was poppycock. We believe most physicians are good doctors who order tests and procedures because they want to get it right, avoid error, and by the way, for the reasons that they legally certify to Medicare and Medicaid – because these procedures are medically indicated and necessary for the health of the patient.
Apparently, BMJ’s researchers have now made the brilliant finding that doctors who order extra tests and procedures have fewer malpractice suits. Well, people don’t sue unless they’ve been very hurt due to a preventable error, or at least they don't get very far in the process. So when doctors order more tests and fewer lawsuits result, it means there are fewer harmed patients with reason to sue. I mean, duh, right?
But the study’s authors apparently can’t bring them to state the obvious. As the Washington Post reports, “The data does not demonstrate that higher spending caused lawsuits to decrease or reveal whether higher spending resulted in fewer medical errors.” Seriously?
But now for the malicious.
In Houston, Texas, a woman was “raped in her hospital bed by a doctor who she claims checked his phone afterward while she cried.” But “the physician charged with assaulting her at Ben Taub hospital in November 2013, Dr. Shafeeq Sheikh, may get off scot-free in civil court.”
Here is part of the reason why.
Sheikh's employer at the time of the rape, [was] the prestigious Baylor College of Medicine.…
Baylor's lawyers have submitted to the court a proposed order to dismiss Sheikh from the case, as "mandated" by law. Baylor's attorney, Jeff McClure, declined comment.
The law he cited, in the "tort claims" chapter of the Civil Practice and Remedies Code, says that if a governmental unit and its employee are sued, the employee shall "immediately" be dismissed.
How is a doctor at a private medical college considered a government employee?
Baylor doctors staff Ben Taub, which is a public hospital owned by Harris County.…
In Texas, a limited government liability state … Baylor can argue it is immune to the claim altogether. Even if Laura's lawyers are successful in challenging that immunity, and she is granted an award, the most a municipality can be forced to pay is $100,000.
And it gets worse. “The Texas Supreme Court has ruled that rape in some circumstances is covered by medical malpractice laws.” And in Texas, that means virtual immunity for a rapist doctor. Specifically,
In 2003, as part of a sweeping tort reform package, lawmakers tweaked the definition of medical liability claims to include breaches in "standard of care" and safety. With some dissent, courts construed that definition to include sexual assault in the health care setting. Texas' medical malpractice statutes are considered among the most prohibitive in the country. Lawmakers severely capped damages for pain and suffering and set up expensive hurdles for potential plaintiffs. As a result of the law, Laura must pay to retain a physician expert to testify to the obvious fact that rape is a violation of acceptable standard of care.
"It should be offensive to every Texan, the idea that tort reform could be used to defend a rapist in about the most horrific crime that can be committed on a woman," [lawyer Jim Perdue Jr.] said.
But the "expert" who sponsored this law, "Rep. Joe Nixon, a Houston Republican … pushed back on the notion that his bill is responsible for the hurdles Laura faces in her civil action. That includes the provision that allows Sheikh and Baylor to claim government protections." So is he obtuse or malicious or both? Guess at this point it doesn't matter. Notes columnist Lisa Falkenberg:
Here's the sad truth, though: In Texas, right now, we have laws designed to protect doctors, to protect hospitals, to protect counties. In this case, those laws may end up protecting a rapist.
And what of the victim? Apparently, she's irrelevant.