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What's Law Got To Do With It? USA Today Reports on Medical Malpractice

Last week, USA Today printed a front page headline article:"Bad Docs Often Keep Practicing Medicine". This should not come as a surprise. The article starts out with a story about a Texas doctor who had been sanctioned many times by the Texas Medical Board for malpractice and mismanaging medications. He had killed two of his patients. He abused drugs himself. Yet, time and time again they allowed him to keep practicing medicine. Years later, after much harm done, he was finally effectively barred from practicing medicine.

Well, what do we know about Texas? It is a Tort Reform state. Compared to New York, the Texas Legislature has strictly curtailed right to claim in a negligence lawsuit for pain and suffering. So good luck Texans, your state does not oversee bad docs, and you have little hope to be compensated in court, either.

USA Today also learned:
-Doctors banned from hospitals as "dangerous" keep their licenses.
-Even the most severe conduct often goes unpunished.
-Doctors with the worst malpractice records keep on treating patients. 

The newspaper investigation confirms: We cannot rely on government regulation or oversight to protect our safety. The Civil Justice System allows the injured to hold wrongdoers accountable. It empowers the jurors- Citizen Judges, to act as the conscience of the community. Its goal is to compensate those injured through the negligence of others. The right to full access to the courts, without artificial restrictions on the jury's authority, or award "caps", must be protected. This is the only real oversight and curb on excesses we can be sure of.

So far, in New York, thanks to the tireless efforts of a few, injury victims' access to the courts is still protected. There are no caps on pain and suffering awards. The juries' hands have not been arbitrarily tied. But the battle against corporate lobbyists who want to kill our Constitutional rights continues. What is more, the fight to empanel jurors who have not been influenced by tort reform publicists also continues.

The next time you are treated to a knee jerk criticism of lawsuits or personal injury lawyers, think twice. The civil justice system is often our last best hope for civilized safety standards.

MITCHELL KESSLER is a personal injury lawyer with Levine & Grossman in Mineola, NY. He has 30 years' experience. Contact: 212-268-2677

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.

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