Victims of medical errors take their case to Capitol

Fresno Bee
Friday, January 24, 2003

After having her breasts removed in an unnecessary surgery at a St. Paul, Minn., hospital, Linda McDougal came to Capitol Hill on Thursday to say that President Bush "intends to harm me and other victims" by seeking to put a $250,000 cap on jury awards for victims of medical errors.

"I have lived with the horror of this for over 7 1/2 months. ... I will never have what I had before," McDougal said at a news conference at the Washington Court Hotel.

McDougal, who just went public with her story last week, has found new allies in Washington. They include the Association of Trial Lawyers of America and the Center for Justice and Democracy, two groups that are touting her case as they try to thwart the president's plan. 

Bush, who pitched his plan during a trip to Pennsylvania last week, said that too many doctors can't afford malpractice insurance and that jury awards are driving up health-care costs. With unlimited awards, Bush said, doctors can be blackmailed into settling cases, "and the system looks like a giant lottery."

Scott Olsen of San Diego, whose 12-year-old son, Steven, was left blind and brain-damaged as a result of medical negligence, took umbrage with that description.

"Mr. President, I assure you, my son never bought a ticket for this lottery," Olsen said.
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D

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