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That description of the Harvard study reads like an advertisement for America's trial lawyers—which, in a way, it is. But Clozaril is going to cost U.S. patients $175 a week. But most doctors fear, with some justification, that stricter disciplinary measures by hospital boards will be answered with yet another round of litigation, this time for libel, wrongful discharge, or anti-competitive denial of hospital privileges. But 1% or 2% of patients on Clozaril will develop a rare and potentially fatal blood disease. This message may be routed through support staff. So there we have it. Nader and Conason could hardly suppress their delight over the Harvard report and its attendant publicity. My cynical mind is inclined to doubt that hospitals are really that good. Award-Winning Journalism Every reporter knows lawsuits make good copy: they're violent, unpredictable, and expensive, and tend to show off the worst (and occasionally best) sides of human nature. Newspaper History Award (1918) Letters, Drama & Music. Copyright © 2020 Manhattan Institute for Policy Research, Inc. All rights reserved. That what America really needs is more malpractice litigation, higher insurance premiums and yet another overall rise in doctors' bills? Third revelation, the one buried at the end of the Times story, the one not dwelt on by either Nader or Conason until I was rude enough to mention it: Only 8 of the negligence victims sued, but another—39 patients—who were not victims of any negligence, according to the study—also sued. Every reporter knows lawsuits make good copy: they're violent, unpredictable, and expensive, and tend to show off the worst (and occasionally best) sides of human nature. Yes, we do need mechanisms to weed out the incompetent fringe of the medical profession. And this is only the beginning. So count on it that nothing whatsoever will be done. I'm stuck with the neighborhood, but I heartily avoid hospitals except when my condition makes it even more dangerous to remain elsewhere. For best viewing experience, please consider upgrading to the. From Sandoz' perspective, however, almost no cost is too high.

It produces none of the serious side effects of conventional antipsychotic drugs. The drug is Clozaril, developed by Sandoz Pharmaceuticals in the early 1960s. In other words, over 80% of the patients who did sue had no basis for doing so. Schizophrenia afflicts over 2 million Americans, who are often completely destitute because they cannot work or sustain contact with family and friends. Careful monitoring, however, can identify these patients before they are seriously harmed. But the law no longer affords them any legally effective way to do so. Imagine that the manufacturer of a car or contraceptive delivered a product that was defective 80% of the time. But as he freezes on the heating grate, the homeless schizophrenic who can't get Clozaril may, in some passing moment of lucidity, wonder whether he wouldn't be better off without his goldplated right to sue. Sandoz will market Clozaril through a health agency, Caremark Homecare Inc., which will supply the drug only in exchange for a weekly blood sample. Philip Meyer Journalism Award: National Institute for Computer-Assisted Reporting, Walter … Here’s the picture. "More medical malpractice than lawsuits," barked a recent front-page headline in The New York Times.

Says a major Harvard study of malpractice in New York hospitals, described by the newspaper as "perhaps the most comprehensive ever conducted in the U.S.". We've attached two of our favorite columns from over the summer. Many lives that would have ended in  misery on the streets would be saved.

But over 80% of the cases lawyers do file involve no negligence. Rich and poor retain an unbounded right to sue anyone (like Sandoz) who might somehow be blamed for hurting them. The country needs more lawsuits just as they always told you, the crisis lies with malpractice itself, not with liability. Send a question or comment using the form below. Everyone would benefit, except lawyers. Imagine that some diagnostic laboratory ran tests that produced 97% false negatives and 80% false positives. The Manhattan Institute is a think tank whose mission is to develop and disseminate new ideas that foster greater economic choice and individual responsibility. The risk would never be completely eliminated, but accidents notwithstanding, the world would be much improved. For my part, I can easily believe the Harvard numbers.

The FDA got around to approving Clozaril in February 1990, almost three decades after it was first tested in Europe. Can it really be that we advocates of tort reform had it all wrong? On the medical side of the ledger, what's striking about the study is that an astonishing 99% of patients apparently received treatment without any negligently caused harm. The big news in the Harvard study is not that some patients get substandard medical care in hospitals. A doctor need not be paranoid to fear the lawsuit both coming and going. Best Local Website - Or so we conclude from a ceremony at … Here's what Sandoz must surely fear. I would. Or imagine that some doctor failed to diagnose 97% of all patients with gangrenous legs, and that when he did reach for a scalpel he applied it to the wrong limb over 80% of the time. "Thousands of hospital deaths and tens of thousands of injuries are tied to negligence each year," but "relatively few victims seek recourse in the courts." Includes years each category has existed. Our good friends Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer, in a tour de force of investigative journalism, dug up evidence that dozens of plaintiffs' injury lawyers around the country have amassed huge fortunesoften raking in $10 or $20 million a yearthrough methods that frequently skirt ethical lines. Are you interested in supporting the Manhattan Institute’s public-interest research and journalism? The Harvard study, judging by the advance reports, is quite a different document than one might have been led to believe by the headline in the New York Times. Courier connections between Sandoz and Caremark outlets allow Sandoz to maintain a national, uptotheminute database of Clozaril patients. By current estimates, Clozaril is now available to fewer than one in ten patients who might benefit from it. Substandard medical care harmed about 1% of hospital patients, according to the Harvard study. The cost is reported to be as little as $30 per week. More detailed message would go here to provide context for the user and how to proceed, Your current web browser is outdated. After further tests, the drug was reintroduced; by mid1989 it was available in Switzerland, West Germany, Austria, Denmark, Finland, the Netherlands and Portugal, and was undergoing clinical trials in the U.K. Extrapolate nationwide, as Nader and Conason both enthusiastically did, and you are talking "worse than Vietnam" (Conason) or "worse than all highway accidents" (Nader). Lawsuit reform makes good copy too. Rest easy. Says who? The event marked the presentation of the 1990 Gerald Loeb Awards, which honor the best financial journalism of the year past. A few days earlier, another player died of a heart attack following a game—but only after filing a career—disruption suit against the doctor who had advised him that he didn't have a heart for basketball. List of current and past Pulitzer categories in Journalism, Books, Drama and Music.

Do you think that Nader might demand reform? It has become "a rich man's drug for a poor man's disease," remarks one observer. For Nader and Conason the implication is obvious. Anatole France observed that the law, in its majestic impartiality, forbids the rich and poor alike to sleep under the bridges of Paris. Extrapolating from which one may conclude that negligence "contributed to" 7,000 deaths and an additional 29,000 injuries in New York hospitals in 1984. The American scene is rather different. The law used to insulate drug companies from the misuse of prescription drugs with a simple, reliable rule: Once the manufacturer supplies a proper warning to the doctor, subsequent misuse is the sole responsibility of the doctor, pharmacist or patient. For obvious reasons, this is a quagmire Sandoz does not care to explore. Many of them thus spend decades in squalid institutions or end up on the streets. The coming years will be exciting times for legal journalism, as the immensely lucrative new litigation industry begins to come under closer scrutiny from the general as well as the legal press. But in its boundless folly, today's American law insists that drug companies remain broadly liable for misadventures involving their products, even if the fault rests far downstream. When college basketball star Hank Gathers died on the court last month, his family vowed to sue various doctors who—at Gathers' request—had reduced the dosage of a drug prescribed for his irregular heartbeat. Clozaril was introduced in the 1960s, then withdrawn when the fatal side effects first became apparent. Lawyer, sue thyself. In a rational world, Clozaril would be classified a prescription drug, to be distributed with a careful warning to doctor and patient, and that would be that. Missouri Broadcasters Association. These prizes are made possible by the John S. and James L. Knight Foundation, the University of Florida, McKinsey Publishing, Journalism 360, the Agora Journalism Center at the University of Oregon’s School of Journalism and Communication, and SmartNews. What was once a trickle of writing is turning into a steady stream: In Upside, a Silicon Valley business magazine, journalist Nancy Rutter exposes some scandalous abuses of stockholder classaction lawsuits by rapacious litigators ("Shareholder Suits: Getting Mugged on the Courthouse Steps," April 1990); In the September American Spectator, a cover story by Robert England explores the farflung influence of the organized plaintiffs' bar in American politics; And, as this goes to press, Peter Brimelow and Leslie Spencer have struck again in Forbes with a fresh expose of the influence of the contingencyfee industry on what calls itself the "public interest" movement. The Loeb Award for best commentary went to another journalist whose courage and incisiveness we've long admired, Gordon Crovitz of The Wall Street Journal.

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