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Dr. Jayant Patel, a former Kaiser surgeon in Portland was front page news on March 13, 2008 in the Oregonian Newspaper. The surgeon nicknamed “Dr. Death” was wanted in Australia for manslaughter charges, all arising out of his bungling care of patients. Manslaughter, for the uninformed, means someone has to die as a result of his actions. The real story here however is how easily this doctor traveled to other states and countries after the authorities knew his care was grossly inadequate, in fact criminal. Dr. Patel practiced in New York before he moved to Oregon. New York suspended his license for medical negligence in 1984 and fined him $5,000. Yet Kaiser hired him in 1989. One wonders if they did any type of background check. What’s really odd is that Kaiser even gave him their “Distinguished Physician of the Year” award in 1995. In 1996 he applied for a medical license in Washington, but neglected to mention his suspension in New York. He decided to withdraw his application after Washington regulators threatened him with sanctions. Yet he continued to operate on patients in Oregon. Kaiser not only awarded him the high honor, they put him in charge of teaching other surgeons. At least until 2000, when the Oregon Board disciplined him for “gross and repeated acts of medical negligence”. In 2001 he resigned from Kaiser, but left with six letters of recommendation from his fellow physicians. How nice. Kaiser sends him off to kill others with full letters of recommendation. So one wonders why medical malpractice insurance is high. Must be all those frivolous lawsuits. So the solution brought out by the hospitals and malpractice insurance companies to bring the costs down? Laws making it more difficult to hire a lawyer. Laws limiting what you can pay your lawyer without any limitation on what Kaiser or other hospitals can pay theirs. That should do the job. That way when people are killed or maimed because of “gross and repeated acts of medical negligence” they won’t be able to hire a lawyer to help them recover damages. What a great idea.

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