I‘ve spoken to you several times over the past 10 months regarding my mother’s ongoing medical catastrophe. Last week, she had to be rushed to the hospital after developing pneumonia. After just five days, the hospital discharged her back to the nursing home. 22 hours later, she went into cardiac arrest and is now in extremely serious condition, having seizures every few seconds and not even able to close/blink her eyes.
Early this morning, I took the time to write the following letter to the White House (actually, I had to trim it nearly in half to accommodate their 2470 character limit):
Dear President Obama.
In 2004, Texas Governor Rick Perry (and current GOP gov candidate Greg Abbott) lobbied HARD for a “Medical Liability Tort Reform Law” that was the GOP cure to soaring health care costs by capping legal judgements at just $250,000 for a lifetime of care (from which you must also pay legal fees) be you 1 or 100 at the time you were harmed. And greedy Texas voters fell for it, lured by the promise of cheap insurance. The result? Hospitals, doctors and insurance companies saved millions, Texas fell to 50th in the percentage of people covered, and health care & insurance costs continued to soar.
Last May, an over-zealous Oncologist convinced my mother that she needed Chemo. I told her doctor, “No, absolutely not! Chemo is for people *riddled* with cancer. She doesn’t have cancer in her FEET!”, but the doctor convinced my mother she was indeed riddled with cancer (she wasn’t) and talked her into having the chemo against my wishes.
By her third & final treatment (6 weeks later), I had to rush my mother to the hospital, dehydrated from severe diarrhea, a 102′ fever with Walking Pneumonia.
The hospital gave my mother “something to cough up the phlegm” and after 3 days of non-stop coughing, suffered a collapsed lung. Six days after that, she told her nurse that she hadn’t had a bowel movement in “FIVE DAYS” (how do they *not* know?), requesting a laxative and a Commode Chair.
The nurses got my mother up out of bed for only the 3rd time in two weeks to use the toilet. Constipated with a collapsed lung and chest tubes hanging out her side, she suffered a cardiac arrest and ended up in a near-vegetative state. (To make matters worse, they left her lying motionless in a hospital bed for two months and we did not know she had developed a severe bed sore until she arrived at the nursing home and they inspected her.)
When I asked her doctors to explain what had happened to account for her state, they assured me that she was “revived in under two minutes”. It was only after hiring a Patient Advocate to review her records that I found out she had actually been technically dead for roughly TWENTY minutes and was on the verge of being pronounced clinically dead when they revived her.
My mother took extremely good care of herself, walking 3-miles twice a week, using the gym and went dancing on the weekends… all at the age of 75. The horrible irony of all this is that the ONLY reason she ended up in this condition is because she was trying to take care of herself.
I’ve since spoken to 15 lawfirms, all of whom agree I have an excellent case, but not one is willing to pursue it because “it would cost more to prosecute that you could win due to Texas’ Medical Tort Reform cap”. One lawfirm did say they were willing to sue over *the bedsore* because it was a “should never happen” event, but I refused because suing over a bedsore would be like suing over a splinter following a plane crash (plus, anything she won would quickly be eaten up by her hospitalization after being dropped by Medicaid.) The sad fact is, if she had *died* that morning, I could have sued for “wrongful death”, but because they managed to revive her, they insured they wouldn’t be sued.
So the people who harmed my mother go unpunished, with no incentive to correct their behavior and continue to treat patients unaware they are taking their very lives in their hands. The insurance companies get fabulously rich, and the only people who are punished are victims like my mother who had to become a burden on the State via Medicare/Medicaid as she languishes in a hospital bed.
Last night my mother suffered a second cardiac arrest that seriously worsened her already serious condition. I’m not sure how much longer she has to live.
I have contacted (as noted above) 15 lawfirms, 4 TV stations, 2 members of Congress and Texas gubernatorial candidate Wendy Davis. Of them, only Rep. Rodney Ellis has replied.
Not only do Republican “solutions” to health care reform not work, but they are actively doing great harm. This message needs to get out there. I’ve tried for the past ten months to spread my mother’s story in hopes of finding her help, to no avail. Now it seems it is too late and my mother is beyond help. All I can hope for now is that her story serves a warning to others.
(PS: The one bright-spot in this entire tragedy was that the ACA limited my mother’s liability before she qualified for Medicaid, preventing her from going bankrupt as we dealt with her situation.)
This is going to be a bad week.
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