Copyright 2007 by William A. Mays, Proprietor
       In the realm of legally sanctioned criminal behavior—a realm that is already filled to its rafters with tenants—medical malpractice insurance stands out as a head of household. The mere name recalls such similarly oxymoronic phrases as "friendly fire" or the "get out of jail free" card. Occasionally—though for every well-known case that pops up there are thousands that daily go unnoticed—an instance of gross malpractice will surface in the mainstream news. Jonathan Larson, for example, was a New York playwright whose breakthrough show "Rent" was one day from its Off-Broadway premier when, following two trips to emergency rooms where the medical staff sent him away, he dropped dead of a treatable condition. An X-ray of Larson's chest clearly showed an aneurysm on his aorta the size of a thumb, the kind of red flag beginning radiologists can detect in their first week of training. Yet, with a man sitting in their examination room who had severe chest pains and hours to live, the medical "professionals" did nothing. The New York State Health Department later compiled a laundry list of errors committed by the staffs of both Cabrini Medical Center and St. Vincent's Hospital, fining and criticizing both facilities accordingly. And the family of a man who had written one of the most profitable shows in Broadway history—and thus could expect far more productive output from him in the future—rightly sued the facilities and their spaced-out employees for medical malpractice. Still, the laziness of our highly paid medical personnel goes on unchecked. Dr. Rolando R. Sanchez of Tampa, Florida, did not even trouble himself to read the patient's medical history before amputating the wrong leg of Willie King. All he did was quickly check the operating-room blackboard upon which some other daydreaming hospital worker had noted the erroneous limb. King won a malpractice suit against Sanchez and the hospital, a judgment covered—if they had it—by their safely tucked away medical malpractice insurance policies. And if they didn't have the coverage, then why not? It's legal and everyone in the business has this expensive little recurring cost in their budget.
       Medical malpractice insurance premiums are taking up ever higher percentages of medical professionals' overheads, increasing the already exploding costs of an out-of-control medical industry churning itself into catastrophe with an outrageously bloated coterie of middle men and "administrators" reminiscent of the most Byzantine and egregious of Soviet bureaucracies. The Ministry of Information Retrieval is a model of efficiency compared to today's Borgesian nightmare also known as the United States healthcare system. Willie King himself, referencing his own experience, reflected the exasperation of many when he said "There's a problem there somewhere that needs to be corrected, and I don't know what it is." And the bureaucrats—including physicians—trapped within that nightmare find themselves becoming so discouraged, disheartened, demoralized—in a word, de-morale-ized—that they spend their days becoming more and more desensitized to the human suffering that surrounds them.
       As long as malpractice insurance is allowed to exist, it negates the entire purpose behind judgments fairly arrived at through due legal process. Go ahead, ignore the irreversible maiming done at your own hands of the innocent patient whose only mistake was entrusting his very life to you. Your medical malpractice insurance, which premium you curse with every breath—the target of which curse, strangely, the trial lawyers and legal system that represent and protect the poor, suffering wretch that you hath wrought—will save you from feeling the financial pinch intended to send a message, a message you will try with every fiber of your being to avoid hearing, although it is one already familiar to you. It is called the Hippocratic Oath.
Medical Malpractice Insurance
Must Be Stopped Before It
Kills Again
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