Pity William Martinez.  William died from an undiagnosed heart ailment, just one day shy of the tests that were scheduled to diagnose his condition.  His family did what anyone would expect a grieving family to do when they suffer the loss of a loved one at the hands of a careless Physician; sued the doctor for malpractice to the tune of $5 Million and were awarded three.  Trouble is, while his heart condition may have been the cause of death, the manner of death was stupidity.

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See, Mr. Williams decided that the day before he was scheduled for tests to determine the cause of the chest pains that radiated up his arm, he thought it a rather great idea to indulge in a ménage-à-trois with two willing female companions, neither being his wife.  Of course, the strain being too much for the 31 year-old’s troubled heart and he expires literally in the middle of the misadventure, as it were.

Once could almost giggle at his misfortune if not for the fact that his family’s successful suit against the cardiologist was based on the argument that his doctor “neglected to tell Martinez to refrain from getting too physical, presumably including any sexual activity, before the test was performed.”  I’m quite sure that Mr. Martinez was unable to provide his version of the doctor’s orders at the hearing so I’m rather curious as to what the physician said in deposition to warrant that type of outcome.  “No, I never told Mr. Martinez to avoid a three-way as I should have, even though it’s a highly dangerous act that has been studied and is routinely discussed in all major cardiology training and medical journals as being highly correlated to early death for patients with cardiac disease….yadda, yadda, yadda, you get the idea.  So let’s get this straight:  Mr. Martinez died as a result of his cardiologist not telling him that tag-team naked gymnastics could kill him. Not that his doctor severed the wrong artery, prescribed the wrong drug, or even denied him care.

Several ways I can rant on this.  First, who the heck in their right mind has a probable heart attack and doesn’t ask the doctor the question about what type of stress, physical or emotional, one should avoid? Sorry, I ain’t buying it.  The nurses, doctors and the friggin’ candy striper washing your sorry ass all told you not to over exert. And that’s all they needed to tell you.  Not “hey geez, what kind of depravity or stupidity do you normally enjoy so we can tell you what to avoid?”   Reminds me of the idiot label on the blow dryer, “Do not use while in the shower.” Great, we’ve reduced our medical profession to useless anti-litigation warning labels, trying to outguess the endless creative possibilities of the truly stupid.

Of course, I could rant about trial lawyers, ambulance chasers and lottery seeking imbeciles who have all contributed to the cost of medical care in this country with settlements like this and the accompanying increases in malpractice insurance.  I would that is, if our current government hadn’t pulled all data on malpractice last year.  I would have told you how almost 93% of cases like these are settled, just as easy for the insurance companies to pay the average claim of around $300,000 than to risk a settlement this large in court.  You see, many jurors don’t like big insurance companies and the neglectful doctors they represent. Maybe someone should have explained to the jurors that they too would eventually be paying for their largess to Mr. Martinez’ family.  In a way, Mr. Martinez screwed more than two people.  The jurors were just too stupid to realize it.  Well, maybe that’s a wee bit unfair.  They did after all reduce the award from $5 to $3 million because they were sure Mr. Martinez was at least 40% liable for his own death.  Can’t make this shit up.

In the end, this can only contribute to the increasing costs of healthcare, no matter how we make light of it.  Tort reform is desperately needed, although trial lawyers associations and lobbyists say the need for reform is a myth.  One thing that’s not a myth is the amount of money they lavished on political campaigns just last year to fight it.   The top contributor in the 2011-2012 year was the American Association for Justice, aptly named to be confusing.  They pumped over $2 million dollars into the campaign against tort reform.  The entire legislative cycle last year saw well over $100 million of lobbying money spread across all branches of government, both parties.  Wonder why Mr. Obama doesn’t talk about tort reform at all?  Might have something to do with the $11 million plus he got from trial lawyers last year.

Truth be told, none of this matters at all.  It’s us the people of this country who are at blame here.  We sit on juries and throw away our own common sense and decide we want to punish someone or some entity we are told is evil, even throwing out the concept of personal responsibility in the process.  Then we wait our turn, looking for the opportunity to be that statistical anomaly that allows us to walk into court and play our own lottery ticket, all the while hoping we too get a sympathetic jury that views us as the little guy, the victim, us against them.  It’s the narrative we follow, the way we’ve come to accept our judicial system to perform.

Last question;  Did Martinez’ partners, certainly more directly responsible for his death than his cardiologist, face any legal consequences?

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