Edwards' malpractice suits

MoFunk

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Dec 6, 2000
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The American Medical Association lists North Carolina's current health care situation as a "crisis" and blames it on medical-malpractice lawsuits such as the ones that made Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards a millionaire many times over.

One of the most successful personal-injury lawyers in North Carolina history, Mr. Edwards won dozens of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals across the state that he now represents in the Senate. He won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and 31 of those were medical-malpractice suits.

More Here
 

Todd33

Diamond Member
Oct 16, 2003
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I think Rip beat you to this.. So he was a good lawyer who sued negligent parties. Good for him, the American way. Go to college and earn money. I guess if he had a rich dad and friends to give him bailouts, he would be a better person.
 

MoFunk

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Dec 6, 2000
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Originally posted by: Todd33
I think Rip beat you to this.. So he was a good lawyer who sued negligent parties. Good for him, the American way. Go to college and earn money. I guess if he had a rich dad and friends to give him bailouts, he would be a better person.

This makes me laugh!
 

Riprorin

Banned
Apr 25, 2000
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Edwards is well known for taking slam-dunk cases with huge potential payouts.

So much for looking out for the little guy.

Of course, we all pay the price for Edwards' brand of jackpot justice through higher insurance premiums.
 

Todd33

Diamond Member
Oct 16, 2003
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Why did they hire him? It's a free market, or at least the right likes it that way.

On November 2, 2000, the New York Daily News reported that Bush sued Enterprise Rent-a-Car in Austin over a fender-bender involving his daughter, even though no one was hurt and insurance would have covered the collision. Lawyers familiar with Texas insurance law said "such a suit would normally be unnecessary."

http://www.sfexaminer.com/article/index.cfm/i/080504op_letters

Ahh, the ironey.
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
Edwards is well known for taking slam-dunk cases with huge potential payouts.

So much for looking out for the little guy.

Of course, we all pay the price for Edwards' brand of jackpot justice through higher insurance premiums.

Is this info based on your misreading one article about Edwards, the same as your prior post that he was "one of America's leading asbestos litigators," notwithstanding the fact that he has never tried an asbestos case?

I'm more interested in the opinion of BaliBabyDoc, who is actually a NC doctor. He seems to have no problem with Sen Kerry.
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
Edwards is well known for taking slam-dunk cases with huge potential payouts.

So much for looking out for the little guy.

Of course, we all pay the price for Edwards' brand of jackpot justice through higher insurance premiums.
Rip -- If you knew anything about the law, you'd know that slam dunk cases are only slam dunk if the defendent really did something to harm the plaintiff. If it isn't that clear cut, it won't be a "slam dunk."

If it was as easy as you make it sound, even you could be a successful attorney. Now THAT is a scary thought. :shocked:
Originally posted by: Riprorin
They (the democrats) want us to fail as long as President Bush is in charge...
It has nothing to do with "wanting." Bush is already a failure.
Winning elections is all that counts.
If you honestly believe winning elections is all that counts, you don't understand anything about the United States of America, and your opinion simply counts for nothing.

:thumbsdown: :p :thumbsdown:
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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Edwards, IIRC, sued on the basis that doctors caused cerebral palsy due to mistakes in birthing.

Most all research I'm familiar with would indicate that CP is genetic or caused by prenatal infection. Maybe BBD can fill us in for certain.

Put your partisanship aside for a moment and tell me - is something like that truly, honestly defensible as right? Doctors should certainly pay for for their mistakes if they were legitimately made. But can this truly be called a mistake?
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Originally posted by: X-Man
Edwards, IIRC, sued on the basis that doctors caused cerebral palsy due to mistakes in birthing.

Most all research I'm familiar with would indicate that CP is genetic or caused by prenatal infection. Maybe BBD can fill us in for certain.

Put your partisanship aside for a moment and tell me - is something like that truly, honestly defensible as right? Doctors should certainly pay for for their mistakes if they were legitimately made. But can this truly be called a mistake?

I'd say two things to that:

- The research you refer to largely originated after these suits took place. My understanding (and God knows I am not a pediatrician/neonatal physician) is that, at the time he won these awards, it was still clinically accepted that birthing errors were a likely cause of CP.

- More relevantly, it isn't a plaintiff's (or his lawyer's) job to present all possible explanations as to how he was injured. As a plaintiff's attorney, Sen Edwards' job was to zealously represent his client, and by all accounts he did so with great skill (and resulting success). Edwards is not a physician - he relied on experts, who testified that the defendants' negligence was a causative factor in the CP. As long as his expert can truthfully testify to this, the plaintiff's attorney is just doing his job by presenting that argument.

I understand the latter is an explanation that leaves many laypeople unsatisfied, and this is the kind of phenomenon that makes people resent attorneys. I can't help that, but it's not Edwards' fault . . .
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: DonVito
Originally posted by: X-Man
Edwards, IIRC, sued on the basis that doctors caused cerebral palsy due to mistakes in birthing.

Most all research I'm familiar with would indicate that CP is genetic or caused by prenatal infection. Maybe BBD can fill us in for certain.

Put your partisanship aside for a moment and tell me - is something like that truly, honestly defensible as right? Doctors should certainly pay for for their mistakes if they were legitimately made. But can this truly be called a mistake?

I'd say two things to that:

- The research you refer to largely originated after these suits took place. My understanding (and God knows I am not a pediatrician/neonatal physician) is that, at the time he won these awards, it was still clinically accepted that birthing errors were a likely cause of CP.

- More relevantly, it isn't a plaintiff's (or his lawyer's) job to present all possible explanations as to how he was injured. As a plaintiff's attorney, Sen Edwards' job was to zealously represent his client, and by all accounts he did so with great skill (and resulting success). Edwards is not a physician - he relied on experts, who testified that the defendants' negligence was a causative factor in the CP. As long as his expert can truthfully testify to this, the plaintiff's attorney is just doing his job by presenting that argument.

I understand the latter is an explanation that leaves many laypeople unsatisfied, and this is the kind of phenomenon that makes people resent attorneys. I can't help that, but it's not Edwards' fault . . .

I'm not denying that Edwards was a fine attorney and a skilled orater - I'm merely questioning his ethics. That is still a required course for attorneys, isn't it?
 
Feb 10, 2000
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Originally posted by: X-Man

I'm not denying that Edwards was a fine attorney and a skilled orater - I'm merely questioning his ethics. That is still a required course for attorneys, isn't it?

Yes, we do have to take a legal ethics course - it's typically called Professional Responsibility.

I'm not following you. As I said, all of the theories Edwards successfully argued came from the testimony of his experts, who said that in their scientific/medical opinions, the defendants' negligence was causative as to the plaintiffs' condition. How is there any ethical issue in his presenting it?

Indeed, if he failed to present a valid, persuasive argument on behalf of his client, he would have violated the canon of professional ethics - we aren't allowed to shave points like that.

I would sincerely be interested if you could explain how there is an ethical issue with Sen Edwards having presented the testimony of qualified experts, based on then-current medical data, to help his clients. I'm not seeing it.
 

conjur

No Lifer
Jun 7, 2001
58,686
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Originally posted by: X-Man
Originally posted by: DonVito
Originally posted by: X-Man
Edwards, IIRC, sued on the basis that doctors caused cerebral palsy due to mistakes in birthing.

Most all research I'm familiar with would indicate that CP is genetic or caused by prenatal infection. Maybe BBD can fill us in for certain.

Put your partisanship aside for a moment and tell me - is something like that truly, honestly defensible as right? Doctors should certainly pay for for their mistakes if they were legitimately made. But can this truly be called a mistake?

I'd say two things to that:

- The research you refer to largely originated after these suits took place. My understanding (and God knows I am not a pediatrician/neonatal physician) is that, at the time he won these awards, it was still clinically accepted that birthing errors were a likely cause of CP.

- More relevantly, it isn't a plaintiff's (or his lawyer's) job to present all possible explanations as to how he was injured. As a plaintiff's attorney, Sen Edwards' job was to zealously represent his client, and by all accounts he did so with great skill (and resulting success). Edwards is not a physician - he relied on experts, who testified that the defendants' negligence was a causative factor in the CP. As long as his expert can truthfully testify to this, the plaintiff's attorney is just doing his job by presenting that argument.

I understand the latter is an explanation that leaves many laypeople unsatisfied, and this is the kind of phenomenon that makes people resent attorneys. I can't help that, but it's not Edwards' fault . . .

I'm not denying that Edwards was a fine attorney and a skilled orater - I'm merely questioning his ethics. That is still a required course for attorneys, isn't it?
Why would you question his ethics if, at the time, CP being caused by complications uncorrected by the Dr. during the delivery was a clinically acceptable reason?
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: X-Man
Edwards, IIRC, sued on the basis that doctors caused cerebral palsy due to mistakes in birthing.

Most all research I'm familiar with would indicate that CP is genetic or caused by prenatal infection. Maybe BBD can fill us in for certain.
Google is your friend. There are apparently many possible causes for cerebral palsy, some of which may easily become issues of a physician's competence during pregnancy and birth.

From NIH
Cerebral palsy may be congenital or acquired after birth. Several of the causes of cerebral palsy that have been identified through research are preventable or treatable: head injury, jaundice, Rh incompatibility, and rubella (German measles).
From about-cerebral-palsy.org
Cerebral palsy is caused by an injury to the brain before, during, or shortly after birth.
From The March Of Dimes
Some of the known causes of cerebral palsy include:
  • Infections during pregnancy. Certain infections in the mother, including rubella (German measles), cytomegalovirus (a usually mild viral infection) and toxoplasmosis (a usually mild parasitic infection) can cause brain damage and result in cerebral palsy. Recent studies suggest that maternal infections involving the placental membranes (chorioamnionitis) may contribute to cerebral palsy in full-term as well as preterm babies (those born before 37 completed weeks of pregnancy). A 2003 study at the University of California at San Francisco found that full-term babies were four times more likely to develop cerebral palsy if they were exposed to chorioamnionitis in the womb. Reproductive/urinary tract infections also may increase the risk of preterm delivery, another risk factor for cerebral palsy.
  • Insufficient oxygen reaching the fetus. For example, when the placenta is not functioning properly or it tears away from the wall of the uterus before delivery, the fetus may not receive sufficient oxygen.
  • Prematurity. Premature babies who weigh less than 3 1/3 pounds are up to 30 times more likely to develop cerebral palsy than full-term babies. Many of these tiny babies suffer from bleeding in the brain, which can damage delicate brain tissue, or develop periventricular leukomalacia, destruction of nerves around the fluid-filled cavities (ventricles) in the brain.
  • Asphyxia during labor and delivery. Until recently, it was widely believed that asphyxia (lack of oxygen) during a difficult delivery was the cause of most cases of cerebral palsy. The ACOG/AAP report shows that fewer than 10 percent of the type of brain injuries that can result in cerebral palsy are caused by asphyxia.
  • Blood Diseases. Rh disease, an incompatibility between the blood of the mother and her fetus, can cause severe jaundice and brain damage, resulting in cerebral palsy. Rh disease usually can be prevented by giving an Rh-negative woman an injection of a blood product called Rh immune globulin around the 28th week of pregnancy and again after the birth of an Rh-positive baby. Blood clotting disorders (thrombophilias) in either mother or baby also may increase the risk.
  • Severe jaundice. Jaundice, yellowing of the skin and the whites of the eyes caused by the build-up of a pigment called bilirubin in the blood, occasionally becomes severe. Without treatment, severe jaundice can pose a risk of permanent brain damage resulting in athetoid cerebral palsy.

    Other birth defects. Babies with brain malformations, numerous genetic diseases and other physical birth defects are at increased risk of cerebral palsy.
  • Acquired cerebral palsy. About 10 percent of children with cerebral palsy acquire it after birth due to brain injuries that occur during the first two years of life. The most common causes of such injuries are brain infections (such as meningitis) and head injuries.
  • Before you start laying blame at Edwards', or any other attorney's feet for pursuing legal action, it would be a good idea to know the specifics of the cases.
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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I suppose it all comes down to the timing of the research. If the prevailing medical opinion of the time was that it was most likely the doctor's fault, then I can't say that I see a problem. I have a friend with CP who just graduated high school, and the diagnosis when he was born was that it was just one of those things that happen in the womb. And from his explanations to me, his understanding is that it's a birth defect 100% of the time.

But, if Edwards was cherry-picking MD's to support his case when there was some doubt, then yes, I see a definite problem there.

Thanks for the links, Harvey. It would seem that CP might possibly be caused by doctor error but there are a lot of other possible root causes as well.

Interesting factoid I gleaned:
Many CP lawsuits, including one that Mr. Edwards describes in his book, turned on the theory that doctors could have prevented CP by ordering a cesarian section. Such suits put nonmedical pressure on doctors and hospitals to choose c-sections. In the past 30 years, the proportion of births by c-section has gone up fivefold. But a 2003 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the rate of CP remains constant.

FWIW my friend with CP was delivered by cesearean.
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: X-Man
But, if Edwards was cherry-picking MD's to support his case when there was some doubt, then yes, I see a definite problem there.
IF is a big word, but unless we know the facts in the cases Edwards took, we can't say what he did was wrong in those particular cases.

There are unethical attorneys. Believe me, I've known some. :| There are also unethical and incompetent MD's, and innocent people who invest their trust in them and are harmed by them through negligence or incompetence deserve representation and fair compensation for their injuries.

The point is, the cliche that casts all plaintiffs' attorneys as evil and, greedy, driving up malpractice insurance by targeting any conveninent doctor, is as bogus as claiming all doctors are greedy, uncaring or incompetent. It just is not so. Another factor in the spiraling costs of malpractice insurance, and medical care, in general, is greed on the part of some insurance companies, but that is yet another area where blanket statements are probably inaccurate.
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: Harvey
Originally posted by: X-Man
But, if Edwards was cherry-picking MD's to support his case when there was some doubt, then yes, I see a definite problem there.
IF is a big word, but unless we know the facts in the cases Edwards took, we can't say what he did was wrong in those particular cases.

There are unethical attorneys. Believe me, I've known some. :| There are also unethical and incompetent MD's, and innocent people who invest their trust in them and are harmed by them through negligence or incompetence deserve representation and fair compensation for their injuries.

The point is, the cliche that casts all plaintiffs' attorneys as evil and, greedy, driving up malpractice insurance by targeting any conveninent doctor, is as bogus as claiming all doctors are greedy, uncaring or incompetent. It just is not so. Another factor in the spiraling costs of malpractice insurance, and medical care, in general, is greed on the part of some insurance companies, but that is yet another area where blanket statements are probably inaccurate.

I'm in total agreement with you, Harv. A few bad doctors and lawyers have given many good people who make up the rest a bad name.
 

Riprorin

Banned
Apr 25, 2000
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Originally posted by: X-Man
I suppose it all comes down to the timing of the research. If the prevailing medical opinion of the time was that it was most likely the doctor's fault, then I can't say that I see a problem. I have a friend with CP who just graduated high school, and the diagnosis when he was born was that it was just one of those things that happen in the womb. And from his explanations to me, his understanding is that it's a birth defect 100% of the time.

But, if Edwards was cherry-picking MD's to support his case when there was some doubt, then yes, I see a definite problem there.

Thanks for the links, Harvey. It would seem that CP might possibly be caused by doctor error but there are a lot of other possible root causes as well.

Interesting factoid I gleaned:
Many CP lawsuits, including one that Mr. Edwards describes in his book, turned on the theory that doctors could have prevented CP by ordering a cesarian section. Such suits put nonmedical pressure on doctors and hospitals to choose c-sections. In the past 30 years, the proportion of births by c-section has gone up fivefold. But a 2003 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the rate of CP remains constant.

FWIW my friend with CP was delivered by cesearean.

The number of c-sections has gone way up in recent years (largely because of fear of litigation), yet the the number of cp cases has stayed steady.
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
12,513
49
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
Originally posted by: X-Man
I suppose it all comes down to the timing of the research. If the prevailing medical opinion of the time was that it was most likely the doctor's fault, then I can't say that I see a problem. I have a friend with CP who just graduated high school, and the diagnosis when he was born was that it was just one of those things that happen in the womb. And from his explanations to me, his understanding is that it's a birth defect 100% of the time.

But, if Edwards was cherry-picking MD's to support his case when there was some doubt, then yes, I see a definite problem there.

Thanks for the links, Harvey. It would seem that CP might possibly be caused by doctor error but there are a lot of other possible root causes as well.

Interesting factoid I gleaned:
Many CP lawsuits, including one that Mr. Edwards describes in his book, turned on the theory that doctors could have prevented CP by ordering a cesarian section. Such suits put nonmedical pressure on doctors and hospitals to choose c-sections. In the past 30 years, the proportion of births by c-section has gone up fivefold. But a 2003 study in the American Journal of Obstetrics and Gynecology found that the rate of CP remains constant.

FWIW my friend with CP was delivered by cesearean.

The number of c-sections has gone way up in recent years (largely because of fear of litigation), yet the the number of cp cases has stayed steady.

Yes, Rip, we know, it was in my post that you quoted . . . ;)
 

Harvey

Administrator<br>Elite Member
Oct 9, 1999
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Originally posted by: Riprorin
The number of c-sections has gone way up in recent years (largely because of fear of litigation), yet the the number of cp cases has stayed steady.
Assuming that's true, would you care to give us the benefit of your medical and statistical knowledge to give us some insight into this relationship?
 

Ferocious

Diamond Member
Feb 16, 2000
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I pay higher premiums because insurance companies are charging more.

Insurance bosses are making HUGE bonuses.

If Doctors don't want to be sued for malpractice.....then....ah well.....then don't do malpractice.

If a Doctor performs malpractice on me.....I think he pay through the nose...and I'd hope a jury would agree.

Let a Jury of Americans who hear the details decide what is just....not some corporate backed law.
 

Todd33

Diamond Member
Oct 16, 2003
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You see, Republicans are in bed with the same corps that get sued, so it a no brainier which side they take. They have been brainwashed that lawsuits are all frivolous, I guess Rush beats it into their heads. When it comes down to a lawsuit of their own, they run off to the lawyers. Hell, they owe Baker-Bots for the 2000 election.
 

Red Dawn

Elite Member
Jun 4, 2001
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Originally posted by: MoFunk
The American Medical Association lists North Carolina's current health care situation as a "crisis" and blames it on medical-malpractice lawsuits such as the ones that made Democratic vice-presidential candidate Sen. John Edwards a millionaire many times over.

One of the most successful personal-injury lawyers in North Carolina history, Mr. Edwards won dozens of lawsuits against doctors and hospitals across the state that he now represents in the Senate. He won more than 50 cases with verdicts or settlements of $1 million or more, according to North Carolina Lawyers Weekly, and 31 of those were medical-malpractice suits.

More Here
So unlike the Dub, Edwards was successful in Private Life.
 

XMan

Lifer
Oct 9, 1999
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49
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Originally posted by: Todd33
You see, Republicans are in bed with the same corps that get sued, so it a no brainier which side they take. They have been brainwashed that lawsuits are all frivolous, I guess Rush beats it into their heads. When it comes down to a lawsuit of their own, they run off to the lawyers. Hell, they owe Baker-Bots for the 2000 election.

That's a one-sided view; big business donates heavily to BOTH political parties - it's obviously in their best interest to do so.
 

BaliBabyDoc

Lifer
Jan 20, 2001
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Per norm there are multiple issues at work here that must be judged on their individual merit before deciding how they relate to one another:

1) The causes of CP: Medical knowledge has evolved on this issue. We have always known (or at least had clues) that physician behavior could contribute to CP. What has changed over time is that we discovered OTHER factors in ADDITION to physician error.

2) C-section rate: Several factors affect C-section rate but medmal is minor at best. Why? Because a CS doesn't necessarily impart less TOTAL risk to the mother/child. It just changes the likelihood of particular risks . . . say wound infection (CS) vs stork-bites (forceps delivery through vagina). Arguably Edwards did most of his "damage" in the 1990s. The CS rate quadrupled in the US between 1969 and 1989 (23.8%). Rates in Canada also quadrupled between 1967 and 1987 (18.3%). Rates have stabilized DESPITE medmal b/c ACOG (American College of Obstetrics and Gynecology) said, "we are doing way to many C-sections."

3) Role of legal counsel: It is unethical not to present a client's best case. It's illegal to lie. Apparently theatrics are allowed to the discretion of the judge. Edwards knows the law and he knows how to communicate . . . that's a lethal combination in our judicial system. Arguably the ABA does a much better job at removing "unethical, poor quality" laywers than the AMA does with "unethical, poor quality" doctors.

4) NC medmal: Years ago if you brought in "expert testimony" that was assessed by the trial judge as being without merit . . . your "expert" was disqualified . . . for being unqualified . . . and you were not allowed to replace that person. In essence, your case basically went into the pooper. That wasn't enough so in the 1990s, NC passed a law requiring an "expert" to provide an assessment of merit on a medmal case BEFORE you could file the case. So Edwards for instance, would have to find a NC OB willing to testify that the "accused" did something wrong before the "victim" could even make a legal allegation.

5) Medmal in general: I've witnessed several cases of medmal. Some serious. Some minor. During a GYN case the resident placed a fiberoptic scope on the patient. After a few moments someone said, "hey do you smell something burning?" The scope had burned through the sterile dressing and had singed the lady's chin. In recovery it was mentioned to the patient and she said, "oh don't worry . . . things like that happen." In a different case a newborn premie was permanently scarred over 30% of his body due to negligence. I know for a fact the family was never told about the source of the child's injury.

Some hospitals have become proactive by offering apologies, medical care, and reasonable compensation for injuries. Others . . . particularly certain specialty groups . . . have decided to buy advertisements and lobby for medmal reform. The former works and its the right thing to do. The latter is unlikely to work b/c 1) trial lawyer lobby has mad cheddar, 2) most of healthcare's wounds are self-inflicted, and 3) politicians typically make situations more complicated . . . not better.