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TLR Spokesman Misdiagnosed Cancer in 16-Year Old Girl

by: Phillip Martin

Mon Oct 01, 2007 at 08:37 AM CDT

(accidentally bumped it... - promoted by Matt Glazer)

Houston Chronicle columnist Clay Robison unearthed a frightening bit of news in his recent column: TLR spokesman Forney Fleming, who advocated against medical malpractice lawsuits, was such a terrible doctor that he misdiagnosed bone cancer in a 16-year old girl's leg. From Robison's column in the Houston Chronicle:
Fleming, however, left out some details of his professional life, including his reprimand and $7,500 fine by the Texas Medical Board in 2004 for misdiagnosing what turned out to be bone cancer in a 16-year-old girl's leg. The leg later was amputated.

The board also accused Fleming of providing substandard care to six other patients, including an 81-year-old woman with a fractured hip. That formal complaint was still pending when he let his medical license lapse and retired last December.

And, according to state records, Fleming was sued or threatened with suits for malpractice three times. All were settled out of court or resolved through mediation for undisclosed terms.

None of his professional problems was mentioned on the TLR Web site, but his profile was removed last week, within an hour after I informed a TLR spokeswoman about them.

Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR) is a Republican-dominated group whose primary purpose is to go after trial lawyers --- not so much because of any policies, but because trial lawyers (by and large) fund Democrats. In 2003, they led the fight for "tort reform." After the newly-Republican dominated Legislature took over in 2003, Speaker Craddick, Lieutenant Governor Dewhurst, and Governor Perry set a special election date for "Prop 12" in September 2003 -- a highly unusual time for a special election. What they wanted was to make it harder for patients to sue doctors for "medical malpractice."

So there's your image of a Republican consumer advocate: a doctor so incompetent that he can't diagnose cancer in a young girl's leg, arguing that patients sue their doctors for no good reason.

Update (Matt):Not surprisingly, Dr. Fleming's profile is no longer on TLR's website, but of course there is a copied page before TLR removed it. You can see it here.


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How quickly we forget? (0.00 / 0)
Prior to Ardmore and Albuquerque, the special sessions on redistricting, and more sessions dedicated to the great tax shift passed under the guise of school finance, the iron fists of Team Craddick/Perry/TRMPAC/TAB/TLR engaged in legislative malpractice for weeks to pass a 2003 "tort reform" plan that barely got voter approval on a rigged election date.

Now that the political tide seems to be turning, it's time to remember the need to restore some the basic rights we've lost. Surely there's a better way to drive down the cost of insurance than by allowing negligence to take life and limb from people and saying, in effect, "oops."

Every time I hear about the sham organization Texans for Lawsuit Reform (0.00 / 0)
I'm reminded of Mimi Swartz's great article, "Hurt? Injured? Need a Lawyer? Too Bad!" Here's an excerpt, but the whole article is well worth a read:

Once upon a time, the purpose of tort law was to make injured people whole. In Texas, victims of medical malpractice or corporate wrongdoing, no matter how poor or powerless, had some redress through the legal system. The Texas constitution plainly states that "all courts shall be open" and that every injured person "shall have remedy by due course of law." But through the efforts of a small group of wealthy and politically influential businessmen and a legislature slavishly devoted to the organization they founded, Texans for Lawsuit Reform (TLR), those days are gone, and these rights may disappear across the nation as President Bush pushes his campaign against "greedy trial lawyers" and "frivolous lawsuits."

Here is what can happen to you in Texas today, thanks to tort reformers and the Legislature: If you go to an emergency room with a heart attack and the ER doctor misreads your EKG, you must prove, in order to prevail in a lawsuit, that he was both "wantonly and willfully negligent." If you took a drug that was later recalled after studies proved it could cause fatal complications, the manufacturer can escape liability for your serious injury or death if the instructions inside the package were approved by the FDA when you took the medicine. If your child is blinded at birth because of medical malpractice, there is a good chance that her only remedy is to receive a few hundred dollars a month for the rest of her life. If a driver hits your old Ford Pinto from behind and burns you beyond recognition, Ford will almost certainly be able to shift the blame from its defective product to the driver of the other car. If you live in an apartment complex that lays off security guards and fails to maintain its locks and you are raped as a result, the apartment owner can still avoid liability. All of the above presumes that you can find a lawyer to take your case; many can no longer afford to do so because tort reform has reduced your odds of winning. And should you by some slim chance win and the defendant appeals, your odds of ultimately prevailing on appeal are 12 percent as of 2004-the paltry rate at which the Texas Supreme Court, which has also been subject to the influence of the tort reformers, has found for the plaintiff in cases involving harm to persons or property, according to Court Watch, an Austin-based public-interests organization.

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