View Full Version : Organ Transplant Debacle

02-24-2003, 06:09 PM
I just heard that the parents of the girl are lining up for their payoff. Since they are illegal aliens, do you think that they ought to be allowed this lawsuit? I think that they should have to cover the cost of the original operation before they're allowed to bring the suit. If they don't come up with the cash and sue, then I would have no problem with them being arrested as they arrive to court and immediately deported. Had the victim of this tradgedy been a convicted serial killer instead of a seventeen year old girl, I'd favor the impending lawsuit. I say kick their asses back to Mexico with zero compensation. I say this after the family of the girl refused to allow her organs to be donated out. I can understand their reluctance to allow this, but at some point the decision would come down to doing the right thing. Any other bleeding heart liberals out there feel the same way I do? I hope this isn't the beginning of my transformation into a dittohead. It really aggravates me that someone who isn't even supposed to be here in the first place can turn around and sue for big bucks. If it comes to fruition, I may jump on the "throw the bastards out" bandwagon.

02-24-2003, 06:26 PM
Combining tort reform with actual enforcement of our immigration laws and the world would be a better place.

In this case, I'm with you. Someone who shouldn't be in the country, then receives what is in effect a charitable operation should hardly be able complain that it didn't work out the way she wanted.

02-24-2003, 06:55 PM
I have to agree with you and (scary as it may be) Irish. If her organs were viable and her family refused to donate them, that is truly contemptible.

I have no problem providing emergency medical care to illegal aliens--to refuse would be immoral--but allowing them to sue for negligence is preposterous. They don't have the right to even be in this country, what makes them think they have the right to avail themselves of our court system? Illegal aliens should not have the same rights as citizens. Otherwise, what is the point of immigration laws?

The story of the the last few weeks of this girl's life is very sad. That does not, however, mean her family should become instant millionaires.

02-24-2003, 07:33 PM
I read that 16 Americans died waiting for transplants on the same day she received new organs. Given this fact, I think her parents should definitely have donated her remaining viable organs (such as kidneys)--and they should have done this whether she was an illegal immigrant or an American citizen. Now maybe in their stress the parents didn't think of this, or maybe they didn't even know that others were dying while awaiting organs. Still, even with a lot of sympathy for the girl, the scenario is somewhat disturbing. Also, a great many doctors are quitting due to insanely high malpractice insurance premiums...in Connecticut premiums rose by 50% in the last year alone...so should illegals be allowed to sue for things like this? I don't know. I do think in general that if we have a classification "illegal alien" it ought to mean something--or as Tom Haley points out, what's the point of immigration laws? We really can't just have an open-door policy where everyone who walks in illegally is entitled to all benefits and protections, to say nothing of the terrorists who are walking in. And INS is simply higjly ineffective when it comes to deportations. Maybe we really should have troops on our borders, and maybe that would help with: 1) illegal immigration 2) preventing terrorists from walking in 3) cutting down on the amount of drugs smuggled into the USA.

02-24-2003, 08:23 PM
Why shouldn't the doctor be sued? Should the doctor provide worse care to somebody based on citizenship? Once the doctor takes the case he or she has an obligation to provide the level of care appropriate in the jurisdiction/circumstances. Assuming he breached that standard of care, he should be liable for malpractice. Any damage award for economic loss could be reduced because of alien status I would think. I.E. earning potential should be based on home country etc... But no way should professionals treat people worse because they are illegals. I totally disagree here.

Mat Sklansky
02-24-2003, 08:46 PM
There is probably some flaw in my thinking, here. Or it may be a legal impossibility. But it seems right to me that the doctor should be sued for obvious negligence, and that a large portion of the money awarded should go, not to the parents, but to some other cause. Now I'll wait to hear what the problems with this notion are.

02-24-2003, 09:07 PM
Typically the damages go to family members and the estate of the deceased - which means parents in the case of kids. The law on wrongful death and recoverable damages varies by jurisdiction but tends to be well-settled and logical. I don't think it would work to give actual damages to some third party. It really is none of anybody else's business and should not benefit them. But some jurisdictions have thought about doing what you propose on punitive damages. On punitive damages it makes a lot more sense to give the money to those not concerned about the case. That is because the policy of punitive damages is to use the court's power to punish the defendant for reprehensible conduct whereas compensatory damages are designed to make the victims whole. I would favor a scheme that gives punitive damages (after a full fee of at least 40% to the plaintiff's attorney of course) to a worthy cause with a percentage going to the victim. Maybe 25% to the victim and the rest to some fund. I don't like the idea of it going to the government wthout strings, so I don't know exactly what I'd do with the money.

John Cole
02-24-2003, 09:21 PM

I'm bothered by your tone, quite frankly. Did you stop for a minute to consider that these people just lost a daughter? Isn't, given the circumstances, "lining up for their payoff" a bit cruel?

I know they should have considered other people in need, but, again, after what these people have gone through, denying the hospital the right to the newly transplanted organs is, at least, understandable.

Mary, the woman I live with, agrees with me, and just for a little perspective, she's on the list for a kidney and pancreas transplant, and may have to wait five or six years, if a match can be found at all. But, that's why we've been together for fifteen years--she has empathy and possesses a rare generousity of spirit, which I urge you to develop.


02-24-2003, 09:35 PM
i think it might matter whether they are illegal aliens who happened to go to the hospital,


mexican nationals who were let in over the border for humanitarian medical reaasons.


the reason i say that is that in the second case since the medical service is free, they may have had to waive certain rights, although of course that can be easily challenged and stuff.

man im scared of hospitals and stuff. they put wrong organs in her, wrong blood type or whatever? once youre an adult you realize everybody is just winging it.

Mark Heide
02-24-2003, 10:09 PM

That Mexican family was granted visas to come to the US for that operation, so their legal status is legitimate. The money for the operation was provided by a private organization. This is unlike the Mexicans that come across the boarder in California to go to a hospital to have a baby that is payed for with taxpayer money.

Furthermore, anyone visiting another country abides by the laws of that nation, so they have the right to file a lawsuit.


Ray Zee
02-24-2003, 11:04 PM
this is exactly why you should be compensated for giving organs or blood. then there would be no shortages. imagine poor people having to give away their organs for free because they want to do a good thing. when everyone else involved in the whole scheme of the operation gets paid big bucks. disgusting. they can deal with theidea of people using their organs to raise money. citizens are going to inda to get operations from organs sold there on the black market.

Ray Zee
02-24-2003, 11:07 PM
anyone that malpractices need to be punished. since we dont do it criminally then civally is the next best thing. the punitive damages need to be high to let others know that the punishment is severe. i am sorry insurance goes up along with our costs. but if you dont charge them, then there is no incentive to do the right thing.

02-25-2003, 12:33 AM
It is next to impossible to get punitive damages in a med mal case. Juries just don't hammer docs with punitives, despite what the insurance lobby might have you believe. Getting a decent level of actual damages is a big victory with a jury in a med mal case.

John Ho
02-25-2003, 02:06 AM
That's a pretty dense post. Duke screwed up big time and whether or not the family wants to donate her organs has no bearing on a lawsuit. I personally don't see why they don't want to donate them but I'm sure they are in shock now and don't trust anyone from Duke.

A lawsuit is a given here. If you don't want to allow illegal aliens to sue then you shouldn't allow them to have the operation in the first place. I guess you could just let the girl die. My understanding is that the public donated a lot of the money towards the operation because the media got involved and everyone was rooting for her.

It comes down to the fact that if Duke hadn't screwed up there would be no lawsuit. If the surgery went well and she still died that is tragic but not grounds for a lawsuit.

John Ho
02-25-2003, 02:23 AM
Terrorists don't walk into this country. Unless they can walk on water. If that's the case they do have God on their side.

Drug smuggling is more the fault of the users than the dealers. If there was no demand then people would not go to such crazy lengths to smuggle into our country. A trivial amount of money to many Americans is a fortune to those in poor countries. And no one is forcing Americans to snort coke. A better solution is to legalize drugs rather than continue our futile attempts to stop a product that has an insanely huge profit margin.

People love having illegals cut their grass, wash their dishes, and pick their produce but then they get scapegoated for many problems they have nothing to do with. Like high premiums for malpractice insurance...are illegal aliens putting doctors out of work? No. It's the trial lawyers who want 6 or 7 figures for pain and suffering above and beyond expenses and lost wages. Of course you mention tort reform and 99% of Americans are clueless as to why it's important.

I've got no philisophical problem with tightening our borders with regards to Mexico or Canada. I just doubt it's worth the expense since it's not going to fix anything. Plus the politicians will have to find someone new to scapegoat when things don't go well. Some have made careers out of this topic.

02-25-2003, 02:43 AM
I believe that legalizing drugs would probably be a good idea, as the "war on drugs" seems to be probably unwinnable. Yet if we had troops on our borders for other reasons it would probably cut down the flow of drugs also.

Just a couple of weeks ago they caught two Pakistanis trying to walk in over the Niagara area, carrying in their backpacks items typically used in bomb-making.

02-25-2003, 02:49 AM
'Terrorists don't walk into this country. '

well if one in a million illegal immigrants is a terrorist then as many as ten terrorists entered last year, according to federal figures.

02-25-2003, 02:59 AM
Well what is going on with the out-of-sight premiums then?

I'm not doubting what you say and maybe this is worthy of another thread, but doctors are walking away en masse for a reason now. Paying perhaps 1/3 of your yearly income for malpractice insurance is no small thing. I'm not sure of the figures but my dad is a retired MD and he is really astounded at it. Plus, he says, you pay in subsequent years too...because liability goes on for some years even after you stop practicing. I didn't ask him all the details. Ray Zee is right that there needs to be some financial accountability so to speak, but wtf is going on?

The brief article I read in the Connecticut newspaper highlighted a doctor whose malpractice premiums jumped from $50,000 last year to $75,000 this year--and highly paid surgeons or specialists can pay hundreds of thousands a year in malpractice premiums now.

02-25-2003, 03:04 AM
ive heard the main factor in premiums is the interest rate.

interest rates low, insurance companies cant make money on investments so they have to charge for premiums.

high interest rates they make so much off of investments that how much they charge in premiums not a big deal.

John Ho
02-25-2003, 03:07 AM
I meant that since they come from the Middle East they probably flew in. It's not about having troops..it's about making sure people don't come in through the cracks in the system. You can put a million soldiers on the border but if a terrorist comes in on a student visa there's nothing you can do about it.

John Ho
02-25-2003, 03:23 AM
Yeah but wouldn't you want to differentiate between honest mistakes and misconduct? The little girl's case seems to be an innocent error. You can't go overboard on this stuff. Doctors are human too. By all accounts the surgeon who messed was excellent.

02-25-2003, 04:01 AM

Of course I considered the fact that this family had just lost a daughter. I made it clear that I understood any reluctance to donating her organs. But sometimes you have to bite down and just do the right thing, regardless of the pain. That includes donating the organs AND owning up to the fact that you're in this country illegally. Just because the situation is fraught with tragic circumstances doesn't mean I should ignore the facts. If I were to make the same choices they did, I don't know if I could live with myself when reality set in.

In response to your closing paragraph--man, what a cheap shot. Did you feel the need to qualify yourself? Apparently so. My post was pointing at two facts--the disgusting decision against donating organs and the fact that if they were law abiding citizens, they'd be watching her die in Mexico instead of her having a shot a survival here. I'm sorry it didn't work out for them. Your judgement of me is way off base, and I think your using your ailing partner in to disparage me says more about you than me.

02-25-2003, 04:10 AM
If they're not here illegally, then they have every right to seek damages--and I'd encourage that.

02-25-2003, 04:18 AM
I wouldn't be opposed to nailing the offending hospital to the wall, just in this case I don't think (under my apparent misunderstanding of the facts) that the victims should be allowed to collect.

02-25-2003, 07:29 AM
a few thoughts...the young woman deserved medical care, received it, a tragedy occurred, now how to best go on???

the lawsuits will be to make her family whole and to punish these incompetent docs, so there is compensation to ease suffering of wronged parties, and punish sloppy care...

duke med center is one of the world's best...the surgeon spent at least 4 years college..4 years med school, 4-5 years general surgery residency..,(these ain't fun people you live in a hospital and take care of really sick people). 2-3 years cardiac-thoracic surgery fellowship, 1-3 years transplant/research fellow...i bet he wasn't just a b student either...lol..

but now all that will be remembered is he made a mistake performing a miraculous cure...what will be the net result...??

the lawyers will take home about half the money involved...a humongous hourly rate...which will not go to victim's family, or to medical care, but will intensify further lawsuits....there will be another check in an already cumbersome system, making health care more expensive and un wieldy....but docs will still keep trying..

i wish this mistake had not happened, but is it really malicious, negligent care; or is it just another example of a key concept of risk management...no matter what ya do...bad things are gonna happen..

the net result is a huge transfer of money from health care to legal professionals, more paperwork, more additional checks in a time-sensitive siruation..higher costs for all..

there has to be a change to medical legal boards who can make real decisions regarding issues which laypeople really cannot understand..gl

02-25-2003, 07:39 AM
ray, do you reallyfeel that sloppy medicine is practiced by the transplant team at duke medical center...that these people who have literally given up their lives (youth anyway)..have no incentive to care respectfully for their patient...that without the threat of a lawsuit, that they just won't care about great care??it's absurd...but my question to you ray is....???
if threat of torts is so powerfull an incentive to practice better medicine.(the current system)..why, why, are there more and more expensive lawsuits???cause it ain't working that's why...gl

02-25-2003, 07:40 AM
true but how does a foreigner deserve to come here and get free med (charitable foundation or whatever) for a *speculative* and extremely costly surgery? (when most americans get shortchanged on preventitive checkups / dental)

looks like its all just a big scam who can grab the most.

02-25-2003, 07:52 AM
/forums/images/icons/frown.gif it is a real sadness that the fact this person was not a legal resident of usa, seemingly means she doesn.t deserve care or rights...she was a resident of planet earth, and i personally find it uplifting that such extraordinary attempts were made to save this tremendously important life...i think this is the real paradox...she clearly would have perished without these experts training, studying for ten years minimum,,after med school, to be able to provide such a loving, caring service...and end up being villified and maliciously prosecuted...she was a real person..a tragedy occurred..there really is no way to make family whole again...jmho gl /forums/images/icons/heart.gif

02-25-2003, 08:04 AM
yeah well a lot of americans are out of work, and they see their taxes spent on hopeless operations for foreigners when they cant even take their kids to doctor for easy/cheap treatable stuff.

face it, its a bunch of crap. (and many community clinics are closing down they cant handle load imposed by illegal immigrants,(which doesnt help them either))

John Cole
02-25-2003, 09:33 AM

Yes, you might be right, and I did consider what I might sound like before I posted. I'm sorry if I offended you. But, I reread your post a number of times before I posted what I did. Perhaps I was misjudging your post, but both the tone and tenor of indicated much more to me than a simple argument based from factual evidence. I didn't say they were now lining up for their payoff--you did. And this is how you started your post.

What do you expect when you begin with such inflammatory language? Perhaps when I read, "I say kick their asses back to Mexico," I missed the logical part of your argument. You can't have it both ways. You can't claim that you've made a reasonable, logical argument and use the language you've used. Do I think you're a racist or a bad person? No. I've read enough of your other posts to know differently.

But, I also wanted to give you a perspective that perhaps you didn't share.

As far as "using" Mary to make a point. You don't know me well enough to even suggest such a thing, and now it's you who should apologize.


Ray Zee
02-25-2003, 11:17 AM
sure john, but that is what the courts are for to decide whether it was an innocent mistake or not and to determine if damages should be awarded for negligence.

02-25-2003, 11:19 AM
A lot of times ridiculous tort reform ideas don't lower premiums at all. I don't know the solution to the problem because it is a complex one. But tort reform has not worked. Insurance companies need a certain profit and their recent investment losses have led them to drive up premiums. I also recognize that a lot of docs are paying ridiculous amounts for malpractice coverage. OTOH, I know both the general statistics regarding malpractice cases and anecdotal evidence. Docs win 80% of the cases that go to juries. Those are often good cases because insurance companies don't settle all the cases with clear liability. Many juries really sympathize with docs doing their best and don't hammer them. But in catastrophic cases damages are huge no matter how you cut it. Sure there are stupid cases and I know people can find anecdotal evidence of ridiculous verdicts. Overall though, the tort system is not an out of control monster. And more often than we want to admit, the level of care is much lower than you can imagine. Not just mistakes which happen, but major blunders that would be easy to prevent. There is no magic solution though. Any way you cut it, the problem costs somebody money.

02-25-2003, 11:23 AM
"the lawyers will take home about half the money involved...a humongous hourly rate"

See, the system works perfectly. /forums/images/icons/smile.gif /forums/images/icons/laugh.gif /forums/images/icons/smirk.gif I just wish these cases were the money factories in Idaho that the insurance co's say they are. HDPW would let me be a trust fund pro.

Ray Zee
02-25-2003, 11:23 AM
scalf, i dont know whether or not they do a good job. but to make sure people that have the power of life and death, you need to hold over them a powerful incentive to not abuse their power.
the current system is working. doctors and such are very careful of what they do and how they act. you hear alot less about the drunk doctor or the doctor cutting off the wrong leg. they now know the penalty for slopy proceedures is too great not to follow the right paths. people are people. and if you give them too long a lease then they get lax. its only human nature.
its simple, if they dont screw up they dont lose the lawsuits. at least thats how it should work. and maybe the law suits should be judged by a panel of experts rather than common people.

02-25-2003, 11:49 AM
There's another factor which is very important and it doesn't receive nearly enough attention.

Many doctors work incredibly long hours, especially doctors in their residency, for whom being on 24-36+ hour shifts is rather common, working over 90 hours a week, etc.--and this must contribute to errors, sometimes grave errors.

Hospitals like it because they get tons of work cheaply from new doctors. But there is a price to be paid somewhere for it and IMO this system needs reform.

02-25-2003, 07:59 PM
/forums/images/icons/shocked.gif i see a lot of illegal aliens at my rural clinic, and am proud of our care and concern for them...they would not be here if someone wasn't making big time money on them...jmho..gl /forums/images/icons/ooo.gif /forums/images/icons/heart.gif

Ray Zee
02-25-2003, 08:47 PM
its sad they work all those hours and that can contribute to mistakes. but they are professionals. and when they accept those hours the mistakes are their fault, and they are totally responsible for their actions. they are not slave labor and have no right to practice medicine when not possesing a clear thinking brain.
and every patient has the right to be told by their doctor and nurse or who ever, that they have workerd 36 hours straight and are in no condition to make sound judgement decisions. not to tell is the same as a criminal act in my mind.
who wouldnt walk or be carried out to another place if told that.

02-25-2003, 09:04 PM
Resident doctors live at the hospital, grab a few hours sleep here and there, and work like dogs. Maybe it isn't straight 36-hr. shifts--maybe I'm exaggerating a bit unintentionaly or have it slightly wrong--but 90-100 hour workweeks take place and they grab a little sleep when they can, sometimes swinging long straight hours too. Resident doctors pay a heavy price this way to break into the profession and hospitals typically require this of their new residents. And residency is pretty much a standard part of a young doctor's transition from education to practice. About ten years ago I read an article about it--and forgot most of it by now--asked my dad recently if it still goes on as a general rule and he said yes it does. My view is that it is really wrong and that something ought to be done to force hospitals to cease requiring such long hours of their doctors in residency.

Ray Zee
02-25-2003, 10:05 PM
mmmmmm, how about one of my bad analogies--

a truck driver to keep his job has to take bennies and stay awake long hours. so he does and kills someone on the road because he couldnt see straight.

so is it his fault. its an honest mistake but doesnt he become totally responsible for his actions. shouldnt he have to pay for his damage. should he go to jail.

this sounds alot like what doctors should have to fear that are willing to take on a job while impaired.

02-25-2003, 10:23 PM
OK, but what if all the big trucking companies require that during the first two years of employment for new drivers, these are the working conditions: long long hours on the job, sleep in your truck kind of thing. My understanding is that's pretty much analogous to what hospitals require of doctors in residency.

Also, just to clarify on the larger picture, I'm not saying there shouldn't be lawsuits or responsibility regarding true negligence. And I don't know all the reasons why malpractice premiums are so out-of-sight now--the whole picture seems very problematic.

02-25-2003, 10:37 PM
i think, at least historically, its because of doctors military role.

02-25-2003, 10:41 PM
well if u had a publicly funded clinic and it was shut down (as some have been / will) you might think, gee, i could fund this whole op for price of futile operation.

John Ho
02-26-2003, 10:27 AM
Yeah my brother went through the very same thing during his residency. It's absolutely ridiculous.

But the residents have no recourse...unless they want to turn their back on all the med school bills and start another career. The hospitals really take advantage of them. I guess it's no different than being a new lawyer at a big law firm and billing huge hours when you start. But the decision making, as far as I know, still is in the hands of a more experienced attorney.

John Ho
02-26-2003, 10:52 AM
I like your idea of having experts judging these things. It's too easy for lawyers to bring conflicting "experts" and confuse the jury. When it comes down to it, if a little girl dies the jury is going to give the benefit of the doubt to the family and give them a huge settlement.

02-26-2003, 01:24 PM
One area of reform in malpractice cases is in the area of expert witnesses. Particularly those doctors who testify for the defense. Yes there are "plaintiff's whores" out there of course, but often overlooked are doctors who will unethically shade their testimony to defend other doctors. I think the docs' professional organizations are starting to discipline docs who offer ridiculous testimony. This would be a big help. And there are cases where one side has a preeminent expert who knows everything about a subject - who has literally written the book on something and testifies honestly. The other side will get a hack to just disagree. The jury then discounts both experts. Injustice then prevails. Feh.