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Wellstar Health System's Kennestone Hospital, GA

Kelly Turner, Local Trial Attorney of Cumming, GA, in March of 2004 filed litigation on behalf of Frank Goduto, age 78 and his wife Anita in Cobb County Superior Court for injuries Mr. Goduto suffered from a bedsore that developed while he was hospitalized from August 23 through September 2, 2003 at Wellstar Health System's Kennestone Hospital in Marietta, Georgia. Initially, Mr. Goduto required hospitalization when he suffered fractures to his right hip and right arm after a fall at home.

He was hospitalized in Kennestone's Acute Care Orthopedic ward for 10 days where he developed a decubitus ulcer commonly known as a bedsore on his sacral area. Bedsores can become very dangerous and even life threatening, especially to older patients. Mr. Goduto's bedsore was discovered while being prepared for transfer to a nursing home. He was discharged despite the bedsore but within 4 days was returned to Kennestone due to high fever caused by the bedsore which grew progressively worse. Mr. Goduto has remained at Wellstar facilities from September 2003 until the present because of the severity of the bedsore.

Attorney Turner claimed the hospital and its nursing staff were negligent in failing to properly assess Mr. Goduto's skin on a daily basis, failing to turn him at least every two hours, and in failing to follow recognized charting requirements in accord with recognized nursing standards and the hospital's own rules. Counsel Turner also alleged that the hospital failed to properly supervise its staff; failed to take into account Mr. Goduto's preexisting conditions of diabetes, Pagetts Disease and prior strokes when determining their ulcer prevention care plan and that the care was substandard.

The parties settled the litigation for $1.8 million dollars and in addition, Wellstar agreed to waive all medical cost and expenses incurred during Mr. Goduto's stay and to be fully responsible for repaying any and all Medicare or other liens. After the Goduto's litigation was begun, Kennestone implemented a policy of conducting a Braden Scale skin assessment on at risk patients daily instead of only once on admission as was done with Mr. Goduto.

Mr. Goduto is now able to leave the hospital and return home for the first time in eighteen (18) months, however, he still suffers from a decubitus ulcer which may take many more months to completely heal barring any complications.

The recent cap on damages passed by the legislature would have substantially reduced the amount recovered by the Goduto's even though they were innocent victims of negligent actions by the hospital. Damage caps dramatically reduce the incentive for the hospital or any wrongdoer to modify their behavior to prevent such incidents in the future. Taking benefits away from injured victims will not solve the problem of doctors and hospitals committing medical malpractice. Medical malpractice can only be stopped by holding the doctors and the hospitals completely and strictly accountable for their negligent and careless acts that kill as many people each year as do heart attacks and cancer.

The citizens of this country are being sold out in many instances by their congressional representatives who staunchly back legislation that curtails our access to the courts and shifts the cost of caring for injured people from those who commit malpractice and produce defective products to the victims, their families and members of the community. The net result of which is substantially more profits for greedy uncaring insurance corporations, manufacturers and the production of inferior unsafe products and shoddier medical care. If Ford and other manufacturers were not held accountable to those person injured by their products we would all be driving around in automobiles that burst into flames when nudged from behind.

A study conducted in Texas entitled "Stability, Not Crisis: Medical Malpractice Claim Overcomes in Texas, 1988-2002 by Bernard Black, David Hyman and William Sage exposed the three largest insurers in the state of Texas who raised their medical malpractice rates 135% over 5 years despite the fact that the Texas Department of Insurance records revealed that the number of claims, the value of claims, and the rate of claims per physician had all remained constant or declined over the last decade. This independently collected data does not support the insurance industries' and the American Medical Association's advertisements or claims that Texas is experiencing a "litigation explosion". The terms "litigation explosion" or "medical malpractice crisis" are buzz words used by politicians and their wealthy corporate supporters or lobbyist to scare the ordinary citizen into supporting legislation that reduces the individual's rights and powers through laws that reduce or eliminate corporate and individual responsibility for a select few at the expense of the rest of us.

Medical malpractice occurs because doctors, hospitals and their employees are not properly policed and disciplined for their repeated incompetence. The medical profession polices itself and they do a horrible job of it. The New York Times reported that 5% of the doctors in this country are causing 55 percent of the payouts made by insurance companies. Of the 2,774 doctors who were held responsible for medical malpractice injuries in FIVE OR MORE malpractice cases only 463 or 1 out of 6 was disciplined. It is easier for a doctor disbarred in one state to obtain a new medical license in another state then for a drunk driver to obtain a new driving license. Politicians across this country are aware of the problem but have turned a blind eye to the lack of policing and punishing incompetent doctors. Instead they enact legislation that shelters the medical profession and encourages substandard care.

In addition to supporting Corporate Welfare with our taxes, our leaders are now vigorously working to strip us of our constitutional right of trial by jury and our right to access the courts and hold wrongdoers responsible for their own harmful actions and practices. Common sense tells you that limiting the amount of money a doctor or hospital would have to pay to those injured and killed every year by their mistakes is not going to make the medical profession become more vigil in policing and weeding out habitually lousy doctors. Such action punishes the victims of malpractice even more. The injured Americans are nameless and faceless before the state and federal lawmakers. Their numbers are diluted throughout this nation's population. Laws that allow a single injustice to one citizen and relieve or limit the responsibility of corporations, doctors or anyone for their bad actions will eventually have an adverse affect on all citizens.

There is a crisis, but it's in the medical profession and the halls of our state and federal governments where the protectionist attitude toward incompetent doctors perpetuates inferior medical care.

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Last updated on Jun-16-05


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