On the same day that a Federal Judge delivered justice to a brain damaged baby and her family the Republican led congress was gearing up to pass medical malpractice damage caps (they call it reform).
Nothing unites the republican congress like a good handout to the insurance industry. Never mind that they can’t pass a healthcare bill, tax reform, or even a budget-Medical Malpractice Reform is always the great uniter.
On Monday U.S. District Judge Robert Scola awarded the family of a Miami Gardens 3-year-old who cannot move because of brain damage sustained during his birth a $33.8 million medical malpractice award.
The facts are egregious. The delivering doctor, Ata Atogho, did not tell the 19-year-old mother-to-be about her baby’s slowed heart rate and never offered her a cesarean section. He also left the room to deliver another baby and took an eight-minute call from his financial adviser. He then lied about an alleged conversation with the mother, and made a suspicious entry into the chart after he saw the baby was brain damaged.
The baby was born blue, face down and not breathing. He was revived but lost so much oxygen to his brain that he now requires 24-hour nursing care and can hardly even stay in a seated position.
Judge Scola awarded $21.7 million for the child’s economic damages and $7.6 million for his pain and suffering. The mother was awarded $3.3 million and the father was awarded $1.1 million for their pain and suffering, for a total of $33.8 million.
If the congress has their way, this case would never see the inside of a courtroom. Never mind that society would have to pick up the tab and pay for the child’s needs under the proposed tort reform plan. The Republican congress would much rather give another handout to the insurance industry-those who need it least, and take money and care away from a brain damaged baby and his family-those who need it most.
The bill would impose new limits on lawsuits involving care covered by Medicare, Medicaid or private health insurance subsidized by the Affordable Care Act. The limits would apply to some product liability claims, as well as to medical malpractice lawsuits involving doctors, hospitals and nursing homes.
In renewing their effort to devise a replacement for the Affordable Care Act, Republicans say one chief aim is to slow the growth of health spending. So the logic is to encourage doctors to order less tests and not practice defensive medicine. If someone dies or suffers severe complications -don’t worry we will cap damages at $250,000.00 for pain and suffering. By the way, who really thinks doctors are going to stop practicing defensive medicine? Those tests, whether it be an EKG, MRI or CT scan are non- invasive, useful diagnostic tests that help save lives, and by the way-add to the doctor’s bottom line. Those tests aren’t going anywhere. Doctor’s will continue to practice “defensive medicine”.
Rather than calling this provision Medical Malpractice Reform, lets call it what it is-An Insurance Handout.
Mark Kaire has been practicing law in Miami for nearly 30 years. He is dedicated to helping the injured people of Miami receive compensation. Mr. Kaire has been blogging on Miami’s legal issues for many years.