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nuclearrabbit77

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OUSTON, March 4 ? As domestic security director for 16 north Texas counties, Greg Dawson of Fort Worth has many dealings with doctors and hospitals, preparing for a terrorism emergency he hopes will never come.

So, Mr. Dawson said, he was stunned this week to find that his name had been added to a little-known Internet database for doctors attacking "litigious behavior." His offense: filing a medical malpractice lawsuit against a Fort Worth hospital and doctor over the death of his 39-year-old wife, whose brain tumor was missed, and winning an undisclosed settlement.

For months, an obscure Texas company run by doctors has been operating a Web site, DoctorsKnow Us.com, that compiles and posts the names of plaintiffs, their lawyers and expert witnesses in malpractice lawsuits in Texas and beyond, regardless of the merit of the claim.

"You may use the service to assess the risk of offering your services to clients or potential clients," the Web site says.

For fees listed as low as $4.95 a month for the first 250 searches and thereafter 2 cents a search, subscribers are invited to search the database "one person at a time or monitor any sized group of individuals for litigious conduct." They can also add names to the database "from official and unofficial public records." Whether that could include a doctor's own files is not clear.

"They can sue but they can't hide," says the Web site.

A founder of the group, Dr. John S. Jones, a radiologist in Terrell, near Dallas, declined to respond to questions, saying through a lawyer, Vincent A. Bacho, that he had given one newspaper interview and had agreed not to give another before it was published.

The sponsors draw no distinctions among cases in what they say is the first effort to use public sources to compile a list of litigants in "predatory lawsuits" that are causing a medical crisis. One couple was put on the list after winning $40.9 million over a botched operation by a drug-dependent surgeon.

Mr. Dawson said he recently had trouble finding a doctor for his son and considered it possibly retaliatory. "I thought how amusing, I'm blacklisted," he said.

He said he learned he was on the list from Texas Watch, a consumer research and advocacy organization based in Austin.

Dan Lambe, executive director of Texas Watch, said: "Medical malpractice patients need more care, not hurdles. It's offensive on different levels."

One other doctor besides Dr. Jones, Hoyt Allen, is named on the Web site run by DoctorsKnow.Us, which registered with the State of Texas on Jan. 30, 2003. Dr. Allen did not respond to messages left with his medical office in Kaufman, also near Dallas. The group lists an address in Mesquite, Tex., that has no telephone. No one responded to messages sent to the group's e-mail address.

The American Medical Association said that it had just learned of the group and that it saw no ethical issues at stake.

"There's no question that physicians are totally frustrated by the relentless assault on the medical profession by trial lawyers," said Dr. William G. Plested, chairman of the A.M.A.'s board of trustees and a cardiovascular surgeon in Santa Monica, Calif. Dr. Plested said the government already maintained a database of doctors who had been sued, for use by medical professionals.

"Is it fair to come to me if you've sued the last 10 physicians you've seen and never collected?" he asked. "Is it fair for me not to know that?"

The Texas Medical Association referred questions about the group to its general counsel, Rocky Wilcox, who responded in a short statement: "We are not a part of and, in fact, don't even know who is running this service. The fact that it exists testifies to the continued frustration physicians feel as they try to care for their patients amidst the epidemic of lawsuit abuse."

How many people are listed on the Web site or what happens to them when they seek further medical care is not clear.
 

nuclearrabbit77

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But Mr. Dawson, 42, director of Emergency Preparedness Department for the North Central Texas Council of Governments, said that since last month he had been seeking some minor medical attention for his 18-year-old son and been turned away by half a dozen doctors. They said they had full schedules or rejected his insurance, he said.

Among other people listed were Dolores and Ricardo Romero of Humble, Tex. In 1998, Mrs. Romero said, her husband, then 40, went into the hospital to have a herniated disk repaired. The operation went awry and he nearly bled to death on the operating table, suffering serious brain damage. Now, he can barely walk or see and needs help feeding himself and using the toilet.

The Romeros's lawsuit revealed that the surgeon, Dr. Merrimon Baker, was addicted to painkillers, had once left a surgical sponge inside a patient, and on other occasions operated on the wrong hip and amputated the wrong leg. The jury, finding that the hospital acted with malice since it knew of the doctor's history, awarded the Romeros $40.9 million. A higher court overturned the malice finding and an appeal is pending.

Dr. Baker, who is practicing outside Houston, did not respond to a message left with his office.

"Well, I think it's ridiculous," Mrs. Romero said of her appearance on the litigants list. "My husband's a victim of a doctor's malpractice ? it's not frivolous."

A prominent Texas plaintiff's lawyer, Richard Mitthoff, who represented the family and also turned up on the list, said he was not totally surprised. "I've heard rumors of such lists but I've never seen anything surface until now," Mr. Mitthoff said.

Another couple listed, Rick and Sheila Beeson of Wichita Falls, Tex., also voiced dismay. Their son, now 7, suffered severe brain damage from untreated low blood sugar at birth. They settled with the hospital and doctors for $9.4 million.

"All we did was try to help our son," Mr. Beeson said. "My job as father is to look out for him, his financial security since they took all that away from him. It's not fair to do what we have to do and be put on a blacklist."
 

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I think its a good idea.

Patients think that we should reveal all of the lawsuits filed against us then we DESERVE THE SAME INFO ABOUT PATIENTS!
 
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Originally posted by MacGyver
I think its a good idea.

Patients think that we should reveal all of the lawsuits filed against us then we DESERVE THE SAME INFO ABOUT PATIENTS!

We are not doing 'an eye for an eye' on medical malpractice suits. The very fact that they make no distinction between legitimate claims and frivalous suits speaks of their laziness or arrogance on the part of the physician---who might believe that all medical lawsuits are ungrounded (as doctors can do no wrong).

While the doctors are probably responding to frustration with the legal system, this seems more reactionary than a true attempt at solving the problem.

The problem is the system, not the doctors or the patients. I can't help but think this will only contribute to the animinity between physicians and patients.


At the very least, the website should make a distinction between what they call "predatory lawsuits" and legitmate claims. If they are not sure, the plantiff should not be slandered as 'predatory'.

The website, I presume is some doctors' solution (or revenge) against an ever litigious society, but all this does is create one more barrier between physicians and patients.
 

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This is interesting, especially since I live in Texas, and would love to practice medicine here one day.

It seems to me that the idea of this database is actually a good one, but the difference needs to be made between preditory and frivolous vs. legitamate lawsuits.

It seems like the article tries to portray the database as the "Official List of People in Texas who sued a Doctor, and should no Longer be Given Medical Care." This just isn't true. Don't doctors deserve to know if a patient has sued their last 5 physicians? Especially since patients believe (probably rightly) that they deserve to know about lawsuits about their doctors.

I think its interesting that Mr. Dawson thought he had been blacklisted simply because he called 6 doctors that had full schedules or didn't accept his insurance. Good grief, I'm not on that list but it's a pain in the ass for most people to get a new doctor! With busy clinics, and the neverending hassle of a bizillion different insurances I find his claim just plain silly.
 

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Originally posted by NonTradMed
We are not doing 'an eye for an eye' on medical malpractice suits. The very fact that they make no distinction between legitimate claims and frivalous suits speaks of their laziness or arrogance on the part of the physician---who might believe that all medical lawsuits are ungrounded (as doctors can do no wrong).

While the doctors are probably responding to frustration with the legal system, this seems more reactionary than a true attempt at solving the problem.

The problem is the system, not the doctors or the patients. I can't help but think this will only contribute to the animinity between physicians and patients.


At the very least, the website should make a distinction between what they call "predatory lawsuits" and legitmate claims. If they are not sure, the plantiff should not be slandered as 'predatory'.

The website, I presume is some doctors' solution (or revenge) against an ever litigious society, but all this does is create one more barrier between physicians and patients.

dude, come on. Why should the website make distinctions between what's frivolous and what isn't? This information is in the public domain, and the public can do whatever it pleases with it.
Point- physicians who browse the site should have the common sense to make the distinction between what's frivolous and what is legitimate.

The website is besides the point. What really gets under my skin is how the author of the article COMPLETELY ignores making any contrasting examples of the possibly hundreds of frivolous lawsuits that are listed in the database. This is NOT impartial, informative writing, this is merely another example of sensationalism.
 

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I use to work at a rural ER in northern California. They have a database in that county of people with "drug-seeking" behavior. I thought this was a novel approach. It gives the doctors a heads up and promotes discretion. This was in 1999 and before HIPPA. I dont remember anyone having a problem with it (nobody would unless they were on it).

I think it raises some of the same ethical concerns as a lawsuit database. Some distinction must be made between the quality of the suits or perhaps number of suits. Outcomes maybe?
 

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The website should do so b/c it is giving doctors ideas that these patients are sue happy. I am not saying all doctors will take it this way, but at the very least, the website should write a brief synopsis or do something to filter out the legimate ones. Otherwise the end result is as stated in the article.

Let me put it this way....if you had been victim of a botched operation and you sued....and someone put your name on their website....and there is no filter on whether this was frivalous or not, would you appreciate that?

I know it's easy for people on SDN to feel for the physicians....but remember that we will all probably be patients someday as well and we could possibly be at the other end of a lawsuit.

Originally posted by sardarg89
dude, come on. Why should the website make distinctions between what's frivolous and what isn't? This information is in the public domain, and the public can do whatever it pleases with it.
Point- physicians who browse the site should have the common sense to make the distinction between what's frivolous and what is legitimate.

The website is besides the point. What really gets under my skin is how the author of the article COMPLETELY ignores making any contrasting examples of the possibly hundreds of frivolous lawsuits that are listed in the database. This is NOT impartial, informative writing, this is merely another example of sensationalism.
 

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I didn't realize this thread was here, I originally posted this elsewhere.

He tried to get appointments with only 6 doctors and he concludes he's blacklisted? Sounds like conspiracy theory to me. Their schedules probably ARE full. If you're establishing care with a new primary care physician they usually want you to schedule a first visit appointment (first visits are LONG - an hour or so - meant for the doctor to really get to know and examine the patient in a detailed fashion so that subsequent visits are more problem-focused). Getting a first visit appointment can take months, because the physicians are often incredibly busy and their first committment is to their established patients. He probably didn't try calling any of the younger/newer docs in town, they usually have appointment slots because their aren't as many established patients. Or, if it's an emergency, go to the ER. And anyway, no one gets turned away for their insurance being bad if they're willing to pay out-of-pocket. The offices who are telling him that they don't accept his insurance are helping him out by telling him beforehand instead of just letting him come in and then get stuck with the bill.

It's extremely unlikely that the entire state of Texas is on this obscure website and that's why this guy can't get an appointment. Makes for great sensationalist journalism though.

bpkurtz
 

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I'm all for the list. If I go on a national database for being sued....why shouldn't I have the same information about patients? Maybe it'll make people think twice before suing. Yes there's malpractice out there and yes there are many frivolous suits. Anyone who doesn't believe me just needs to ask a praciticing doctor (they've all been sued...its just a matter of when.)

As far as asking the website to decide between frivolous and meritorious suits, that's kind of silly. We all have different ideas of what frivolous is. Without reading the entire court transcript we couldn't decide for ourselves if we thought it was frivolous. Certainly the fact that a case is settled, or even won by the plaintiff, doesn't mean it wasn't a frivolous suit. It could mean there was poor documentation on the M.D.s part, it could mean there was a bad outcome and a sympathetic jury, and it could mean the doctor had a bad day and made a mistake. Put the data out there and let us decide what to do with it. Personally, I just don't feel right caring for patients that have sued me. Legal wrangling leaves a bad taste in my mouth. I also wouldn't feel right caring for patients who have sued my partners. How far that extends I have yet to find out......

Remember...bad outcomes happen every day to good people. Most of them don't sue. They know the doctor did her best.

Remember, most suits are dismissed or won by the defendant.....therefore most suits are frivolous.

If you sue me, don't come back to me for care.

P.S. Don't criticize me until you've been named in a suit.
 
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