Tort Reform


Wahl has spina bifida, is brain damaged and paralyzed from the chest down. At age 32, he lived at a group home in Menomonie, where he loved coloring and going on picnics, said his mother, Karen Nichols-Palmerton.

One evening in October 2011, she visited the home and found her son’s room empty.

Wahl had been rushed to the hospital for treatment of a bedsore so severe that doctors feared he would be permanently bedridden.

A state health department investigation report laterfound he had the bedsore for four months before being hospitalized.

But the staff who cared for Wahl never sought medical attention for his wound, state investigation records show. And the facility never told the state or Nichols-Palmerton about it, as required by state law, according to state officials.

Instead, caregivers atAurora Residential Alternativessprinkled the bedsore with baby powder and applied antibiotic cream, watching it grow larger and more serious until it was bone-deep, records show. Nichols-Palmerton is suing Aurora for alleged negligence, seeking punitive and compensatory damages.

Changes to Wisconsin law passed two years ago, however, mean her attorney can’t use those state investigation records as evidence in the lawsuit, which alleges a four-month pattern of neglect.

“It scares me for those who put their trust in a facility,” said Nichols-Palmerton, who lives in Menomonie, a small city in western Wisconsin. “It scares me to think of things that could be brushed aside. I don’t rest so easy anymore.”

Holly Hakes, Aurora’s executive director, declined to comment, citing the pending litigation.

Thelaw, which went into effect in February 2011, bars families from using state health investigation records in state civil suits filed against long-term providers, including nursing homes and hospices. It also makes such records inadmissible in criminal cases against health care providers accused of neglecting or abusing patients.

The changes were included in a tort reform measure, the first bill Gov. Scott Walker proposed after Republicans swept both houses and the governor’s office in the 2010 elections.

Yes, let’s make sure this kind of thing is as hard to prosecute as possible.

Shit is fucked up and bullshit.


8 thoughts on “Tort Reform

  1. “”Each of these (proposals) is aimed at one thing — jobs,” Brian Hagedorn, Walker’s chief legal counsel, said at the hearing. “These changes send a symbolic and substantive message that Wisconsin is open for business.””

  2. can’t use those state investigation records…
    But you can be sure if they had their way, they’d happily let insurance companies go back to using ANY records or data to deny someone health converage…

  3. As for the standard of medical care, long term facilities are acutely aware of bedsores. €They are notoriously hard to treat and easily become worse due to secondary infection.
    In short, they should regularly inspect the skin for bedsores. They should have hopped right on it as soon as the skin showed any breakdown. If their patient care records don’t show this, they were grossly negligent.
    And what could be more relevant than if the facility had been warned of problems and failed to address them? Closing the records sounds like a way of protecting the facilities despite being troubled.
    Kind of sounds like closing the food / restarant sanitation inspection records so the public doesn’t know if their restaurant is sanitary or not. Or in a measure that has been done, laws which hide where food came from.

  4. Criminal conspiracy, sounds like, to cover up systematic neglect.
    Part of the Republican way of life.

  5. As someone who had a very similar situation happen to me – but who just snuck in with the old rules – I can tell you that at least I had a chance for litigation (it collapsed when the doctor changed her story during a deposition).
    Under the new rules, I wouldn’t have had any lawyer want to take the case. Medical testimonial from experts costs thousands of dollars.
    I really am ready to reciprocate the hatred that the GOP has for the downtrodden – my apologies to the Dalai Lama and Gandhi.

  6. Amen to this. Just had an argument with an apologist for the Keystone Pipeline and his argument for the pipeline was, who has to drive less? Asked about rooftop solar, his argument was that the more rich people install solar panels, the more poor people will have to pay for the electric grid.
    I managed to convince him that the real poor suffer more from asthma from fossil fuels and lousy transit options than they are going to do from solar panels and the Keystone pipeline — and that the people who will suffer from solar panels and the Keystone are the rich who get $200 per kilowatt hour on the sunniest days and who own the pipeline, and the refineries, and the tar sands that will so benefit from a cheap and read pipeline. The Republicans spend a lot of time caring about the hypothetical poor who need jobs while they gut protections and remedies for the real poor.

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