Saturday, March 29, 2008

Death hastened by tort law

I have a wonderful patient that is losing his fight with cancer. Becuase of other medical problems he is not a candidate for a clinical trial. There are some promising results from a new research drug, so I contacted the company that makes it and tried to get a humitarian release of it to try to help him. The company immediately transferred me to their risk management department where they explained that they could not because of the potential liability! I explained that my patient was losing his life and that he would sign any release. They promptly replied that those have been overturned and fought in court and that the liability was to great. I even managed to talk to the CEO of the company and he told me the same thing.

Just to make sure that this was not just his company, I started calling around. There is not one company that will release a phase I medication for humanitiarian use in the US that I could find. One company, who wished not to be named, suggested that the patient go to the Netherlands where they could release it through their sub there.

You have got to love the ramifications of our "tort system".


Rositta said...

That's very sad isn't but I can't help thinking that Americans have done it to themselves by suing for everything. I don't know any other country where you can sue for just about anything...ciao

SeaSpray said...

Hi Throckmorton - first of all...I want to tell you that I really admire you for championing your patient's cause with these drug companies!

Business calls can get quite involved and certainly you had to expend valuable time and energy to make your case before each of these individuals you spoke with.

Patients don't realize the behind the scenes work their docs often do for them. I didn't either until I started reading the blogs and then learned just how much pts and their cases affect most of you in so many ways.

This sounds like you went above and beyond. I wish everyone had dedicated docs like you. I am fortunate that I do.

I have mentioned it here before (I think) that my urodoc is one of the most amazing docs and I thank God for him because A.He got me through the tough times and through his dedication and skilled hands facilitated healing in a difficult case and B. because he helped me to feel safe when I was afraid because of the uncertainty of my case by always being there fore me. He always seemed on top of my case/aware of everything, took me seriously, was always attentive in various ways and seemed genuinely concerned. ha! If he ever needed a pt me I could write him and amazingly excellent one and it would ALL be true! :) I suppose my gratitude is proportionate to how sick I was and the nature of the healing process.

My other special Doc is my GP who I hardly see because I have gravitated over to another doc who works out of the hospital I have been a pt in. (and I usually don't get sick enough to need a doctor)But I recently saw him at a local church because he was assisting his father who is doing some guest speaking regarding a spiritual book he wrote. I loved it and am going back to the next 3! He was delighted to see me and I him. :) Anyway...with the GP I have a spiritual connection that I have never had with any other doc and it is awesome to know I have a doc who believes in the possibility miraculous healing and praying with patients if they want that. I know I could call him anytime and he would always talk with me when possible. And I love how if I had personal concerns he listened and always had some wisdom to share. Ha! Plus he often quotes C.S. Lewis of my favorites! :)

Yes...I have digressed greatly but I said all that to underscore how important you good docs are to your patients. In my docs are one of God's most important instruments of healing on earth.

I am so very sorry that you were unable to get your patient on the promising new research drug. :(

And I am so sorry that you have to face losing your pt and have "that" conversation that you have done all you can do with him.

Your compassion, kindness in your eyes and touch will mean a lot to him.

Having just lost someone dear to cancer Sunday morning, I can appreciate the pain and frustration of not being able to save someone and it must be so hard for doctors because your training is geared toward saving lives. And oh how I wish there could've been some promising research drug that could've saved her.

Stupid tort system!

SeaSpray said...

Just want to add a P.S. here and say that nurses/MA's are also one of Gods important instruments of healing and no doubt the doctor's right hand and left hand, etc., and are on the front lines with the patients too.

I have had the good fortune to work with some stellar ED nurses, witnessing their compassionate expertise with the patients and I have personally been the grateful recipient of the same when I was a pt.

Chrysalis Angel said...

Unbelievable crap that goes on. This just disgusted me. I applaud you, as Seaspray stated, "for championing your patient's cause." It has to be so frustrating on your end too.