Wednesday, February 10, 2010

R.I.P. John Murtha

Congressman Murtha died of complications of surgery. He was one of the most powerful members of the House.

Murtha had a laparoscopic cholecystectomy (gall bladder removal) performed at National Naval Medical Center in Bethesda, this is the same hospital that takes care of the President. According to CNN, doctors "hit his intestine." This procedure is performed 10's of thousands of times per year, in virtually every hospital in the country. One of the outcomes of any surgery can be death, but with this procedure that is unlikely. If this had happened to John Doe in General Medical Hospital, Anytown, USA, a lawyer would already be preparing the lawsuit.

In my opinion this is a medical error, and is inexcusable. But as the discussion continues over health care reform, this matter should be considered, and be part of the discussion. Errors do happen. Doctors are human, and therefore imperfect. What should be done in the instance that the physician's error causes the death of a 77 year old man? Should it just be handled by the John Edwards' of the world, suing for as much as they can get, or should there be another avenue of redress?

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