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Thursday, September 7, 2006

The Ackerman verdict

A jury has found that a doctor at Oregon Health & Science University negligently screwed up the "routine" neck surgery that led to permanent nerve damage to former Portland TV newsguy Ken Ackerman. It awarded Ackerman around $1.4 million, including $1 million in punitive damages.

It's far from over. There's still a legal question as to whether the doctor's liability might be capped at $200,000. A recent state Court of Appeals ruling says that it isn't, but OHSU is reportedly appealing that. As it may very well appeal the verdict in the Ackerman trial itself for any alleged errors made by the trial judge in that case.

While we all speculate how these cases will finally come out -- and ruminate on what, if anything, might constitute a fair liability cap for OHSU -- a waggish reader sends along a new must-have accessory for Portlanders:

Comments (8)

What are OHSU's malpractice stats versus other local hospitals?

Why are they growing so much, which indicates at least some level of success, if in fact they are a deathtrap?

Beats me. I don't think most of the patients know about the liability cap. And many have nowhere else to go.

It's not a deathtrap. But it's becoming more about money than anything else.

BTW, you aren't "torridjoe," are you?

Does the Trial prove there was an Error?

"What are OHSU's malpractice stats versus other local hospitals?"

If you research the epidemiology of malpractice rates, I think you'll learn it has much to do with the personality (narcissism) of the claimant and the accused. For OHSU claims, I suspect filing a claim is a bit of an IQ report on the attorney, considering the tort limits. I'd bet OHSU actually has the lowest local rate, because the pot at the end of the rainbow is so shallow.

It's probably a mistake to confuse the attitudes and competence of clinical care delivered by OHSU doctors and nurses with the putative shenanigans of the institution's non-clinical visionaries, money-grubbers, executives, businessmen, and assorted entrepreneurs.

My...What a cordial request on that MedicAlert bracelet.

Mine just says, "NO! NO! Not Pill Hill!"

Also, I don't understand - haven't you advocated for OHSU to act more like a private business - in which case, shouldn't they care about the bottom line and try to rein in costs?

haven't you advocated for OHSU to act more like a private business

Actually, no. Bye, Pete.

That's noneconomic damages (not punitive damages), more commonly referred to as pain and suffering damages. It's designed to compensate the patient who suffered the injury for those costs that don't have a direct economic cost, such as the inability to fully use his hand.

They aren't designed to punish the defendent.

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