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Imagine Being 7 Months Pregnant, You Get Heart Palpitations And A Series Of Doctors Refuse To See You

By Habib Wicks, PEERtrainer Co-Founder

As many of you know I have been training for a marathon. I run several times a week with a group of guys who have run marathons before. As far as "PEERtrainers" go, these guys are the best. They schedule runs, motivate me to run on days that I don't want to. Many of them are doctors as well, so I have to endure lots of complaining about some of the inside baseball of being a doctor. 

Usually I focus on my own breathing and let them talk and talk so I can have a better chance of keeping up with them. Yesterday though I heard a very interesting story which I felt compelled to write about. One of the guys is a cardiologist, and he was particularly upset about something that happened in the last couple days. 

There was a woman in the hospital, somewhere in the system that was 7 months pregnant and having heart palpitations. I was told by my friend that a whole series of doctors would not see her, I think 4 or 5. My friends assistant called him and asked if he would. He agreed to, and explained that the other doctors did not want to touch the case with a ten foot pole out of fear of being sued.

He gets into the room to see her and she just starts crying and crying. She is glad to see my friend. But can you imagine what is going through this woman's head? You are way pregnant, your heart starts acting funny, you are probably freaking out. And a series of doctors refuse to see you?

Bad stuff can and does happen to women during pregnancy. Anyway, there is this huge healthcare debate about things that might or might not happen in the future depending on what happens. And in this debate, the words "tort reform" have come up. It is something that Republicans always talk about, and that some Democrats are starting to talk about. As I understand it, "tort reform" means reworking the issue of suing doctors when something goes wrong. 

It is one of those buzzwords that we hear get tossed around, and it sounds like an abstraction. Which is why I wanted to blog about this story. I am not a lawyer or a doctor, but it seems that when doctors refuse to see patients out of fear of being sued, something needs to be worked on. And I have NO IDEA how one would structure "tort reform." Obviously if someone screws up, there needs to be recourse. 

Anyway, I thought this might be interesting contribution to the healthcare debate. Hopefully not too controversial. This is one of those things that everyone can relate to and understand.


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The problem is that those who want to "fix" it, that brought this up in the first place--i.e., Republicans--are, like everyone in DC, looking at this as a black and white issue. they do nto realy want to fix it. They simply want to eliminate the right of people to sue doctors, period, just like they want to get rid of "government regulations" that block innovations for everyone even though they are protecting against something going wrong for some people, and are fine with getting rid of universl health care because it unfairly taxes everyone and props up some fraud and waste, even though without it there are some people who cannot afford insurance through no real fault of their own. So this is why most Democrats are against even bringing the issue up--if the matter is put into a bill, the Republicans will simply try to eliminate tort as a possibility, not reform it. As the debt ceiling debate demonstrates, Republicans are not willing to negotiate, just dictate. What I love is that they can make it sound like they are working against evil lawyers, because everyone likes to make fun of greedy lawyers. But 90 percent of our legislators are lawyers--and greedy ones at that.

Thank you for bringing up the reality of what many doctors face--the fear of being sued. There has to be a better balance between holding health professionals liable for errors and patients suing the daylights out of well-intentioned professionals who render care to the best of their abilities and knowledge. This does pertain to the current healthcare debate. Nothing works well, including health care (no matter who's in charge of it), without integrity and honesty on the part of both the provider and the recipient.

Our country need tort reform, but even more than that, its every citizen needs a reformation of morals--a return to doing what is right in every area of life. Who's to say what is right? Good question, but the Golden Rule might be a good place to start.

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