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Wednesday, February 8, 2006


The good docs up on Pill Hill have been getting themselves sued a fair amount lately. In addition to the former patient who's trying to stop them from hiding behind their alleged $200,000 malpractice liability limit (with a trial scheduled for next month), now there's an ex-employee going after them in a whistleblower action over alleged financial misconduct.

According to The O, the latest lawsuit is brought by a former pension manager at OHSU who claims he was fired because he blew the whistle on alleged hanky panky with employee retirement funds:

The former manager of retirement programs at Oregon Health & Science University says in a lawsuit that he was fired for blowing the whistle on improper pension procedures that cost employees "substantial lost interest earnings."

The suit, filed on behalf of Gordon Allen, says human resources officials at OHSU failed to make "timely or accurate contributions" to employee accounts in the Oregon Public Employees' Retirement System and the University Pension Plan.

When they build the new county courthouse in downtown Portland some day, perhaps they ought to include another OHSU aerial tram [rim shot].

Comments (27)

KATU had a heartbreaking story on last night with OHSU causing brain damage in a baby and hurting another patientís spine. The other patient was a doctor and he had plenty to say about not being able to get money to cover his new OHSU-caused lifestyle. We all know medical problems are complicated and things can go wrong. No one is expecting any outfit to be 100% mistake free. But who should bear the cost of a mistake? The patients and their families? This isn't just compensation. It's a whole new bunch of expences that the mistake brings on. Besides, the hospital has much less incentive to do the job right if they know they canít be penalized for more than $200 grand.
Meanwhile, the mother of this kid slaves away at her job while the grandparents try and help out. After they exhaust their finances the costs are born by Oregon taxpayers anyway in a giant loop. But along the path, peopleís lives are crushed. OHSU responds that not having to pay greater malpractice insurance allows them to treat more patients, but they havenít exactly gone out of their way to warn these patients of the tremendous risks theyíre taking walking through those doors in the first place. Finally, the 200 grand thing isnít even real because many cases that deserve more in damages donít even proceed to the 200 grand level. You have to pay a lawyer and the insurance companies, so youíre going to walk away with nothing for the negligence of OHSU. Why bother? It ainít right folks, And worse than that, itís wrong.


True, true. Perhaps we need a ballot measure stating that OHSU (and other government entities subject to the same restriction) are liable for all of their special and general damages, subject to a $200K cap on punitive damages. Or all special damages with a reasonable cap on general damages and punitive damages. And reasonable attorneys fees. Without that, you lose a third of your special damages, which, if properly awarded means you lose a third of the money you were actually out.

Anyone got $200K to throw at a much-needed ballot initiative?

Here's a question I've been wondering ever since this story popped up: proponents of liability caps (President Bush, for starters) argue that the rapidly increasing cost of medical care is due in large part to malpractice insurance, which is itself driven by large lawsuit settlements/awards. Given this logic, wouldn't we expect to find that OHSU charges much less for any given procedure than, say, Good Sam? Or Legacy? Or anyone else without a cap?

Interesting dilemma: If OHSU is a public corporation (as represented by statute) then it's subject to the state whistleblower law. If it's not a public corporation, then it isn't protected by the Oregon Tort Claims Act.

What dilemma?

They simply have their cake and eat it too.

Courtesy of the Goldschmidt regime.

What do you suppose OHSU was using the pension money for? Or was it just bad management. There are several thousand people who would like the answer to that question.

I was curious about what Dave J. asked and there is an apples to apples website. That compares procedure cost. http://www.orpricepoint.org

I checked out one procedure joint replacement, OHSU appeared to be the most expensive by several thousands of dollars of Emanual, Providance, etc. Thinking about how much of the Tram [rim shot] was overhead pushing up the cost of services.

If Dave J. is Curious and has the time to do the research he might try looking at that. It was several weeks ago, and I only checked one procedure. It would be an interesting analsys for someone. I know our OB-GYN complained at the birth of our last child that his professional liability was twice what he took home in salary, and was an ever incresing % of his cost of procedures.

I would be interested in the research.

Gordon Allen was part of the problem. He's just covering his hind end.

I would not be surprised if Allen _was_ doing CYA.

While were on this topic, has anybody else noticed how much OHSU is spending on full page and nearly full page display ads in the bOregonian? How many folks are now planning on using the wonderous services available at the new OHSU SoWhat facility (....come when, anyway)?

How about all the intensive television advertising of late promoting their "change the world" campaign?

Does anybody else harbor any cynicism about the motives behind this sudden bit of intensive propagandizing?

Yeah...right. "Change the world."

In Portland, buying advertising has a way of softening the editorial boards of media outlets who might otherwise call fouls when they see them.

As far as pricing is concerned, check out www.oregoniansforhealthsecurity.org for their report entitled "The Price of Motherhood" OHSU has some of the highest prices around for normal vaginal deliveries.

All of this might help explain the sudden spate of "good for the community" type OHSU ads I've been seeing on TV.

Hiring the spouse of the monopoly daily newspaper's editorial page editor isn't a bad move, either.

improper pension procedures that cost employees "substantial lost interest earnings.

I have it on good authority that this has happened with PERS contributions at Portland State. If it happens here, it probably happens throughout the system. I suspect that shaving days here & there is a good way for large institutions to make some $ on monies acrued to them and not their employees.

So what have I learned here? Do not adlib in the comment section. Copy it from the Word section. This way you will catch those horrible spelling mistakes that only serve to diminish your argument and make you look like an idiot. My above post should have "expenses" and "borne" for starters.

Iíve made the comment before which bears repeating. Whether right or wrong, OHSUís liability is capped at 200K. Proponents of tort reform harangue about the benefit of premium reduction from limiting malpractice damages. Premium reduction presumably lowers the cost of health care. Thus, if our media would simply request, and if necessary, FOIA the malpractice premiums paid per OHSU doctor since the caps went into effect, the public will know whether the Insurance industry is in fact responsive to liability limitations. It will either advance the position of the proponents of tort reform, or (as I suspect) expose the fallacy of the premium reduction argument. Címon WW, or Trib, we know the O aint gonna pursue this important public interest issue.

Not to mention OHSU's in with Oregon decision-makers, e.g. State Rep Ginny Burdick and her PR firm: Gard & Gerber. Wonder where those ads come from, b!x?

OHSU is a great thing in general, but they're being given way too much sway now.


Don't ya just love Tort Reform? It's a lobbyist's talking point to fatten the wallets of some priviliged few. Anyone with half a brain knows any 'savings' won't be passed down to the consumer.

Accountability keeps many hacks from degrading an already broken system. Imagine a world that grants power without responsibility (ignore the fact that Dubya was re-elected).

Jack sez: "In Portland, buying advertising has a way of softening the editorial boards of media outlets who might otherwise call fouls when they see them."

Yeah. It certainly is transparent to anybody who is paying attention.

Ok everybody... theories? Why is the public so nonchalant about the lessening watchdog role of our media? Where's the outrage? Many correct answers are possible here, but it boils down to this: volume = legitimacy. The MSM can set the tone because it has implied legitimacy. There doesn't have to be a conspiracy, just a common understanding not to rock the (commerce) boat too much. In the end, all outlets will look and sound the same, except the few that bother to ask hard questions... these will be the ones singled out for making the dialogue 'unpleasant'. Or 'extreme', or 'radical'. Bullsh*t.

Thank god for blogs... P2P communication has never been easier or more accessable. The gatekeepers of our information are running scared, I assure you.

"Don't ya just love Tort Reform?"
Ralph Nader calls it Tort Deform.

"Why is the public so nonchalant about the lessening watchdog role of our media? "

Nobody I know is nonchalant about this. Except a few media insiders.


You clearly are a radical extremist who is making the dialog unpleasant. ;)

"You clearly are a radical extremist who is making the dialog unpleasant. ;)"

Can we put up cartoons here in the comments section?

"radical extremist"

Isn't that an oxymoron?

No more than reactionary extremist.

The one's y'gotta watch out for are the moderate extremists.

City offers $2.5 million more towards Tram.

"Moderate extremists".

I don't know if the news media realizes that it has set up this paradox.

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