Tuesday, August 01, 2006

Bill Frist Is Toast

A story getting little coverage outside West Virginia -- yet -- indicates Bill Frist isn't our guy for 2008 or even for the Senate Leader now.

Putnam General, an HCA hospital in West Virginia, announced today it is closing under a flurry of malpractice lawsuits against one orthopedic surgeon. West Virginia has caps on liability but they, rightly, don't apply to something as horrific as this.

The news story in the above link doesn't get into it, but Dr. John King hadn't completed a residency in orthopedics. Nevertheless, he was performing surgeries -- many of them with disastrous effects -- on unsuspecting patients. Hospital staff complaints about Dr. King were routinely ignored. Potential liability is estimated at half a billion dollars.

This case transcends malpractice liability reform, which I believe we need in Kentucky. The real issue, that will come out soon enough, is how hospital managers ignored clear warning signs and then HCA execs sought to dump their liability on the sly and (failing that) started selling shares.

Mitch McConnell might want to start getting ready for his own stint as Majority Leader a little ahead of schedule.