Patty Skolnik: Malpractice survivors and family members from five states will hold their first meeting with White House staff on Monday, coordinated by the Center for Justice & Democracy, a meeting Skolnik says they have been requesting since 2003. Advocates are concerned that proposals to limit injured patients' rights are becoming a bargaining chip in the health care debate.
Skolnik, of Centennial, Colorado, will be at today's meeting. She told CNN on Sunday, "Lawmakers can't look at the consumer as the problem, saying that we are bringing frivolous lawsuits. This is not the patient's fault. The White House needs to bring the consumer into the conversation."
Skolnik said that in 2001, a surgeon misdiagnosed what was wrong with her son, Michael, and performed unnecessary brain surgery on him. She says the surgeon told her "he had done many of these surgeries, when he had only done one before. He went on a fishing expedition inside my son's brain."
This marked the beginning of a 32-month nightmare of more brain surgeries, infections, partial blindness, paralysis, and other problems, leading to total disability. Her son could not eat, speak, or move anything but his right hand. Nearly every day during this traumatic time, she says, "Michael used the only limb control he had to shape his fingers into a gun, and held them to his forehead, repeatedly throughout the day." He had the cognitive ability of a third-grader.
The Skolniks sued the doctor, and when Michael died in 2004, they settled out of court. After his death, Patty Skolnik founded an organization that, in 2009, became the Citizens for Patient Safety. On her Web site, she says, "You can suffer a great loss, but you have a choice as to how to handle it. Anger and grief has a place, but taking that and transforming it into a solution is the best healer and the best reward for everyone."