Saturday, June 26, 2004

Good nurse fired for marriage to good lawyer.

There are 73,084 working lawyers in Texas. Selina Leewright never thought that being married to one would cost her her job.
But that's why Leewright, a nurse, was fired last summer by Good Shepherd Medical Center in the East Texas city of Longview. In dismissing her, hospital officials praised her nursing skills as "fantastic." But they told her that because her husband, Marty, worked at a law firm that does medical-malpractice litigation, the hospital could not continue to employ her. "I was dumbfounded," Leewright says. "They just assumed that my husband does medical malpractice, which he doesn't at all."
Leewright's firing was a measure of how toxic the battle over medical-malpractice lawsuits has become. Hospital administrators and doctors across the nation, furious over what they see as waves of frivolous lawsuits that have driven up malpractice insurance costs, are striking back against lawyers with hardball tactics that, in some cases, are raising ethical questions.
Some doctors are refusing medical treatment to lawyers, their families and their employees except in emergencies, and the doctors are urging the American Medical Association to endorse that view. Professional medical societies are trying to silence their peers by discouraging doctors from testifying as expert witnesses on behalf of plaintiffs. And a New Jersey doctor who supported malpractice legislation that his colleagues opposed was ousted from his hospital post. . . .
This month in Mississippi, where lawmakers have been at odds over the issue for years, the legislature limited medical-malpractice awards for pain and suffering � as opposed to actual medical bills � to $500,000. The measure was approved amid acrimony that Percy Watson, a lawyer and legislator from Hattiesburg, says was unlike anything he had seen in his 25 years in the state House.
Watson says that at one point he got a letter from an angry doctor he doesn't know, and that the doctor told Watson he would refuse to treat the lawmaker because of his opposition to limiting malpractice awards against doctors . . . .
In New Hampshire, Tim Coughlin, president of the New Hampshire Trial Lawyers Association, recalls an angry confrontation last fall with Rick Miller, a neurosurgeon from Portsmouth, N.H. Miller told Coughlin, 40, that because Coughlin lobbied against limits on malpractice suits, Miller would refuse him treatment . . . .

Your doctor is not your friend; your doctor is your enemy. Your doctor is a member of an organization dedicated to depriving you of your rights, the American Medical Association, by depriving you of your right to sue. Your doctor is more interested in protecting himself and his collegues from responsibility for malpractice than he is in prevening malpractice. Your doctor will do anything to ensure that he can maim you, kill you, and dismiss you and your family with a $250,000 check - if that.

We should fight back. If your doctor refuses to provide care for trial lawyers or their families, you should find another doctor. If your doctor advocates limits on your right to sue, you should find another doctor. These doctors do not deserve our money. They deserve our contempt.