Las Vegas:University Medical Center Trauma Center reopens

  1. July 15, 2002

    Doctors busier than usual as center reopens
    By Ed Koch
    <koch@lasvegassun.com>
    LAS VEGAS SUN
    http://www.lasvegassun.com/sunbin/st...513713469.html

    Doctors in the reopened University Medical Center Trauma Center were busy this weekend, tending to 17 injured people, including a 2-year-old who was brought in Sunday after a television set fell on his head.

    All survived. A 41-year-old motorcyclist injured in an accident Sunday was in critical condition in the trauma center's intensive care unit today.

    "It was busier than a normal weekend," said UMC spokesman Rick Plummer, noting that it also was busy this morning.

    "We have a gunshot victim from Lake Mead and victims from a high-speed rollover coming in by helicopters right now."

    The 2-year-old boy who suffered head trauma from the TV set was listed in good condition this morning in the children's unit, which is located above the trauma center, which reopened Saturday.

    In the days since the July 3 closing of the city's only Level 1 trauma center, critically injured patients were taken to the closest emergency room for medical attention.

    The center in the county-operated hospital had shut its doors after private orthopedic surgeons refused to work there unless Nevada lawmakers capped soaring medical malpractice awards.

    An accord was reached Friday, when the doctors were made temporary employees of the system, and thus received insurance coverage of state doctors that caps potential malpractice awards awards at $50,000.

    The doctors returned to work Saturday.

    Among their first patients was a 35-year-old man who survived a 40-foot fall. He currently is in a regular room at the hospital recovering from non-life-threatening injuries, Plummer said.

    Also that day a 24-year-old man injured in a Jet Ski accident was brought to the trauma center and treated, Plummer said.
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  2. 10 Comments

  3. by   -jt
    <<The center in the county-operated hospital had shut its doors after private orthopedic surgeons refused to work there unless Nevada lawmakers capped soaring medical malpractice awards.
    An accord was reached Friday, when the doctors were made temporary employees of the system, and thus received insurance coverage of state doctors that caps potential malpractice awards awards at $50,000. The doctors returned to work Saturday. >>

    So in other words, the MDs went on strike & shut the hospital down. No strike breakers came in to take care of their pts for them - no "professional replacements" were hired to keep the hospital in business while the MDs were on strike. The hospital just CLOSED - & I didnt hear any other MDs or administrators trying to make these MDs feel guilty about taking a stand for themselves or telling these MDs that they must give up their demands for the "sake of the pts". (even though the issues was solely about MONEY). And even though there was no place else there to provide the community with the trauma services of that hospital, the whole place just SHUT DOWN for the 2 weeks the MDs were on strike - never mind about the pts - which forced the powers that be to finally address the MDs concern - and the MDs got what they needed.

    THATS how a strike is supposed to work. Good for them.
  4. by   LasVegasRN
  5. by   -jt
    << "On the 4th of July weekend, when President Bush warned America to brace for possible terrorist attacks, local doctors chose to walk away from the trauma center at UMC in spite of the fact that they had reasonably priced malpractice insurance.
    "Doctors claim that insurance is too expensive to do business, despite the fact that Governor Kenny Guinn's new insurance plan is helping physicians get malpractice insurance cheaper than before the crisis."....... By closing and then reopening the trauma center, they have opened themselves to the criticism that they were willing to play with lives for political gain. It's not exactly the image of the hard-working professional in surgical garb and stethoscope that they were trying to craft. >>

    great article. Ok so somebody did have something to say about the MDs job action. They picked the wrong thing to shut down the healthcare facility over - & got an angry response from the public because they closed the hospital just over money - & pts be damned. They have a public relations problem. Nurses who strike usually do so to make things better for the pts - the public usually understands that & supports it.

    I dont think those MDs care that the public is angry with them. They probably figure the public will get over it soon enough. And the fact of the matter for these MDs is that they went out on strike, closed down the hospital & theyre going to get the money they want.
    <<"it sure shook things up. After 10 days, the trauma doctors returned to work with promised insurance concessions. And Gov. Kenny Guinn called for a special session of the Legislature...."

    Amazing.
  6. by   NurseDennie
    It kind of puts a bad taste in my mouth, too. They've made their point, they've been made wards of the state or whatever, malpractice awards capped at $50,000.

    Doesn't seem reasonable. Five'll getcha ten that the insurance is paid for or supported in some way by tax money, given the circumstances.

    And what about patients whose injuries require a lifetime of skilled care? People are always hearing about million $$ malpractice settlements, but if somebody is going to have to be in some sort of care for the rest of his/her life, he is going to NEED a million $$ to pay for it.

    I guess that's not the point of this thread, but that's what stuck in my throat when I read it.

    Love

    Dennie
  7. by   LasVegasRN
    Originally posted by NurseDennie
    It kind of puts a bad taste in my mouth, too. They've made their point, they've been made wards of the state or whatever, malpractice awards capped at $50,000.

    Doesn't seem reasonable. Five'll getcha ten that the insurance is paid for or supported in some way by tax money, given the circumstances.

    And what about patients whose injuries require a lifetime of skilled care? People are always hearing about million $$ malpractice settlements, but if somebody is going to have to be in some sort of care for the rest of his/her life, he is going to NEED a million $$ to pay for it.

    I guess that's not the point of this thread, but that's what stuck in my throat when I read it.

    Love

    Dennie
    It's exactly the point. Let's see what happens when the doctors demand something else and it's the strike supporters son/daughter needing trauma care and dies from the 80 minute transport out of state because their doctor is sitting out for tort reform.
    Gee, if you TRY to sue it can only be for $50,000.00.
  8. by   -jt
    This cap is ridiculous. But look at how fast the state buckled under the MDs demands. They wont have to pay for their malpractice insurance & if they get sued, all the insurance companies lose is $50,000. Pocket change. So whats the incentive for being diligent? My sister in law lost her mother too soon due to a mistake in the OR. Thats worth more than $50,000.
  9. by   LasVegasRN
    Yes, the doctors scored a big coup by shutting down the Trauma Center to force their political agenda. The point of the article I posted is to state the cost to the public that it caused.
    The doctors malpractice rates were increased due to the high jury awards that have been awarded here. They decided they were not going to continue to be subjected to these high rates and push for tort reform. Some closed their practices and left the state, some have closed their panels to high risk patients, and a big group decided to stop treating trauma patients.
    It's one thing to be working in an environment where you can make the determination that patient care is at stake, staffing ratios are unreasonable, and compensation is inadequate, but calling off and shutting down a Trauma Center to push a political agenda that endangers the public is a totally different ball game.
    What's next? The doctors decide that Medicare reimbursement is not worth their time and to push the agenda to raise reimbursement they stop taking grandma's and grandpa's?
    That's the whole point this columnist makes - don't hold the public hostage for political agendas. Doctors want a cap on jury awards. Fine. Make the point without scare tactics.
    I really hope that the existing nursing unions here do not strike anytime soon, because it will contribute to the public apathy that this has caused against the medical community. The public will not understand that the nurses have a different reason and cause that is NOT politically motivated (one would hope).

    In addition, the strikes that have occurred here lately have had bad outcomes. The bus strike ended with no deal and the drivers were replaced and fired. The casino/culinary strike tactics backfired downtown where they held a strike during a peak tourist time, the bosses agree to union terms, and when the strike was over, over 800 workers were laid off and one hotel/casino closed down permanently.

    Public apathy is running high. The trial lawyers, slimy as they are, are having a field day with this Trauma Center issue. In the end, who is going to suffer? Who knows. If you suffer at the hands of malpractice, it's only going to get you $50,000.00 for pain and suffering.
  10. by   eltrip
    jt, I see what you mean. The docs closed up shop over money. Not patient safety or better working conditions, just money. They have demonstrated more interest in lining their pockets than providing medical care to patients.

    Let the lawyers at 'em!
  11. by   LasVegasRN
    Originally posted by -jt
    This cap is ridiculous. But look at how fast the state buckled under the MDs demands. They wont have to pay for their malpractice insurance & if they get sued, all the insurance companies lose is $50,000. Pocket change. So whats the incentive for being diligent? My sister in law lost her mother too soon due to a mistake in the OR. Thats worth more than $50,000.
    Here's the physician's beef about all of this. It's interesting, because I didn't know how this malpractice thing worked.

    Say if -jt's SIL wanted to sue her doc. Let's call him Dr. Vegan. Dr. Vegan has a 5 million dollar policy.
    Dr. Vegan calls his insurance company and says, "they are trying to sue me."
    The insurance company: "We'll go for settlement".
    Dr. Vegan: "No, that will be like admitting I was wrong."
    The insurance company: "But you were wrong. We strongly advise you to settle. If they take you to trial and win, you are only covered for the policy amount. If you settle, we cover you for the entire settlement amount."
    Dr. Vegan: "I'm not guilty! I want to go to trial!"
    The insurance company: "Okay, it's your funeral."

    They go to court. The jury awards -jt's SIL 6 million in punitive damages, plus lifetime medical care for her condition.
    Dr. Vegan: "But I'm not guilty!"
    The insurance company: "Here's your 5 million. See ya, find another company to insure you. Buh-bye."
    Dr. Vegan: "But they said 6 million, not 5 million..."
    The insurance company: (Left the building)
    JUDGE: "I suggest you sell that yacht, Lexus and home in the Hamptons to pay the remaining money you owe that family"
    Dr. Vegan: "Curses!"

    Now with tort reform, the cap for punitive damages will be $50,000.00. That's all you get for your pain and suffering. You will still receive lifetime medical care, but good luck trying to keep that going after the case is closed. With tort reform, the insurance companies will lower their rates back to the level the physicians were comfortable with.

    Oh - the lawyers! In ADDITION to tort reform comes a cap on LEGAL FEES. Gee, they are outraged at that possibility!
  12. by   -jt
    <The doctors decide that Medicare reimbursement is not worth their time and to push the agenda to raise reimbursement they stop taking grandma's and grandpa's?>

    Dont laugh. It happened last year in Los Angeles. The news articles were posted here. Maybe can still find them with a search. The gist is that whole hospitals stopped accepting pts
    that were insured by Blue Cross because the company wasnt reimbursing the doctors & hospitals enough. They basically said "sorry - we'd like to continue providing care to these pts but their insurance company isnt paying us enough, so sayonara". St Johns was one. The hospitals move forced a continuation in negotiations with the insurance companies to pay higher reimbursment rates. So in effect, the hospitals went on strike against the insuance companies - refused to care for hundreds of thousands of pts in those plans - caused public panic amongst that population - and turned them away - until it got more money.


    <<jt, I see what you mean. The docs closed up shop over money. Not patient safety or better working conditions, just money. They have demonstrated more interest in lining their pockets than providing medical care to patients. Let the lawyers at 'em!>>

    EXACTLY!


    <<<Now with tort reform, the cap for punitive damages will be $50,000.00. That's all you get for your pain and suffering. You will still receive lifetime medical care, but good luck trying to keep that going after the case is closed. With tort reform, the insurance companies will lower their rates back to the level the physicians were comfortable with.>>>

    And they get to keep their Lexus, yacht, & home in the Hamptons, no matter what damage they cause. And they try to stop the lawyers from doing the same by capping their fees?? lol


    << It's one thing to be working in an environment where you can make the determination that patient care is at stake, staffing ratios are unreasonable, and compensation is inadequate, but calling off and shutting down a Trauma Center to push a political agenda that endangers the public is a totally different ball game.>>

    Yes & its hard to believe that they actually did it. And got away with it...so far. And that the state bowed to their demands instead of throwing them in jail for creating a public menace.
    Last edit by -jt on Jul 17, '02

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