Too Bad You Can’t Sue The Legislature

I know of very, very few people who thought this was a good idea at the time it was passed. In fact, it seemed more like the legislature was intent on punishing GATL members than improving the conditions in the state.

It started in February of last year, when Sherry insisted that her 39-year-old husband go to the Columbus Medical Center’s emergency room so doctors could treat a headache that wouldn’t go away after four days and numbness on the left side of his body began to grow.

A doctor there told the burly builder that the problem was likely a pulled muscle, and sent him home with prescriptions for a muscle relaxer and blood pressure medicine.

Within a few hours, Fretwell said his left side was paralyzed. He rushed back to the hospital, but the same physician told him once more he suspected a pulled muscle and sent Fretwell home.

The next morning, he was back – this time, by ambulance. His vision had blurred and his vomiting grew worse overnight. After tests, doctors confirmed he had suffered a stroke.

A month later, the family sought out a lawyer to see if they could sue. They were told if the doctors had originally diagnosed a stroke, they could have treated him with medication to reduce its severity. But the lawyers also said the new state law gives emergency room almost complete immunity from malpractice lawsuits, making a lawsuit a long shot.

Given the way the legislature is having to handle redressing several of last session’s big issues, I vote we dub this year’s session the “Back Peddling Session.”

One comment

  1. Bard Parker says:

    Full disclosure, I am a physician.
    Mr. Fretwell’s story is a tragic one. The bad thing about articles such as this is the lack of balance they exibit. The Fretwell’s are allowed to tell their version of events and because of privacy laws, the hospital cannot give their side.
    Also, this component of tort reform was not enacted to “punish” the GATL, but to improve access. Physicians were not taking ER call because of liability fears. EMTALA put physicians in the position of being required, under pain of a $50k fine for a violation, to provide care in ER’s regardless of a patients’ ability to pay. EMTALA does not provide immunity or relief from liability in the care of those patients. This provision was meant to provide some relief.

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