Stories Highlight Need to Protect Patients’ Rights in Health Care Debate

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For Immediate Release: November 9, 2009

Contact: Ray De Lorenzi
202-965-3500, ext. 8369
media.replies@justice.org

Stories Highlight Need to Protect Patients’ Rights in Health Care Debate

AAJ launches ads, videos to put human face on medical errors

Washington, DC Blake Fought, 19, was about to be released from the hospital after recovering from an illness that required a central line IV.  Unfortunately, the nurse had never been trained to remove the IV and did not follow proper procedures, causing bubbles to enter Blake’s brain, heart and blood vessels. He died in front of the nurses and his own parents – who were at the hospital to take their son home.

Blake is just one of an estimated 98,000 patients that die each year from preventable medical errors, with countless more seriously injured.  His story along with others will be released today as part of a series of video tributes to the lives behind medical negligence on http://www.98000reasons.org/, a website dedicated to explaining why tort law changes will not fix America’s broken health care system.

“Blake is just one of 98,000 patients that die each year from preventable medical errors, equivalent to two 737s crashing every day for an entire year,” said American Association for Justice President Anthony Tarricone.  “As tort reform is marketed as a panacea for health care reform, we know it won’t bring down skyrocketing healthcare costs or help the 98,000 patients that lose their lives every year from medical errors.  Real health care reform should put safety first, not use patients’ rights as bargaining chips.”

Here are a few stories and videos featured on http://www.98000reasons.org/ that show the impact of medical negligence on patients and their families:

  • In 2007, 29-year-old Quanisha Scott underwent a partial thyroidectomy to remove a goiter at a hospital in Little Rock, Arkansas. Twelve hours later, she began to develop shortness of breath and feeling her neck tighten. Despite complaints to the nurses, her condition was not appropriately monitored or reported to a physician. She went into respiratory arrest and suffered severe brain damage. It was later discovered that she had a hematoma at the site of the surgery. She is now bed-ridden and totally dependent on her mother for care.
  • Lauren Lollini of Denver, Colorado, went to a Denver hospital for kidney stone surgery in February 2009. Six weeks later, Lollini’s health began to deteriorate with feelings of exhaustion and a loss of appetite. After a week of her illness, she became jaundiced and had an inflamed liver. The doctors at an urgent care clinic diagnosed her with hepatitis C. Thirty-five other patients became infected with Hepatitis C at the hospital. A state investigation revealed that the outbreak began with a hospital staff person who had used hospital syringes and painkillers for drug use.
  • In August 2007, Merlyna Adams - a school principal from La Place, Louisiana - experienced a sharp pain in her right side. The next day, her primary care doctor ordered a CT scan, which revealed that she had a 10mm kidney stone. Over the next few days, she was transferred to several different hospitals. At the fourth hospital, she remained in ICU for nearly three weeks. Her body developed sepsis, a complication caused by infection. She suffered congestive heart failure, renal failure and pulmonary failure. The restricted blood flow to her hands and feet required her to have both legs amputated below the knee and she lost both hands. She is unable to engage in everyday tasks like brushing her teeth, taking a bath, eating or using the restroom without another person.

For more information on why tort law changes won’t fix health care, and to view real stories of medical negligence, visit http://www.98000reasons.org/.

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As the world's largest trial bar, the American Association for Justice (formerly known as the Association of Trial Lawyers of America) works to make sure people have a fair chance to receive justice through the legal system when they are injured by the negligence or misconduct of others—even when it means taking on the most powerful corporations. Visit http://www.justice.org/newsroom.

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