My Letter to the Editor: Yet Another Reason Why Our Lives (Literally) Hinge on the Civil Justice System

September 11, 2013  |  Other

Guest Post by Baron & Budd Shareholder and American Association of Justice President Burton Leblanc

Recently, USA Today ran an investigative story uncovering the fact that thousands of healthcare providers are allowed to continue to practice medicine despite repeat errors, fines and even probations (Link: http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/08/20/doctors-licenses-medical-boards/2655513/).

Centered on the story of two women who both died from a fatal mix of drugs prescribed by the same physician, Dr. Greggory K. Phillips, the investigative article reveals a harrowing reality today: patient safety is at risk.

If we have learned anything from Wall Street over the past few years, the lack of accountability in any industry can have devastating consequences. When it comes to healthcare, the results can be life altering injures and even death.  Legal accountability through the civil justice system provides an incentive to put patient safety first.

As an advocate for the civil justice system, I am acutely aware of the repercussions of unchecked negligence and was moved to write a letter to the editor, which can be read here: http://www.usatoday.com/story/opinion/2013/09/02/doctors-oversight-licenses-medical-boards-your-say/2756211/.

In my letter I spoke of the civil justice system and how important it is that we protect and utilize it to make sure that those in power act responsibly. I spoke of the fact that, every year, 98,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors. That is equivalent to two 737s crashing every day for a whole year. In fact, preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the United States and cost our country $29 billion a year. I spoke of the fact that state medical boards and hospitals are failing to report these crucial incidents of medical errors and in doing so are failing to stop future deaths.

Bottom line, if no one is accountable, no one is safe. Our safety is threatened when our access to the civil justice system is threatened. When we are denied access to the civil justice system, we are subject to a world where negligent healthcare providers and corporations can wreak havoc and be protected by self-regulating bodies that time and again have put the interests of their members before public health and financial safety.

Many Americans do not realize their ability to hold wrongdoers accountable is under attack everyday–across the country in our statehouses and in Congress.  The most effective, time-tested method of accountability across all sectors, including the healthcare industry, is the civil justice system. This is something I know firsthand.

Burton LeBlanc is an environmental and dangerous drug lawyer at Baron and Budd. He is also the president of the American Association for Justice in Washington, DC.

To keep in touch with Burton on Facebook and receive the latest need-to-know news on the civil justice system and medical errors, visit https://www.facebook.com/jburtonleblanc.

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