Friday, October 31, 2014

Shame on California Teachers Association (CTA) for opposing Prop 46; is CTA in the pocket of the Medical Association?

The California Medical Association has been wining and dining Democrats.  California Teachers Association seems very vulnerable to such attentions.  CTA has been campaigning to protect negligent doctors, keeping shamefully low caps on damages for extreme harm to patients.  Prop 46 is a positive step in the right direction for protecting patients in California.  Why is CTA opposing it?  CTA is playing politics and ignoring basic principles of fairness.

We test kids who play basketball.  We test pilots.  Why don't we test doctors?  Think of how many lives would be saved if more doctors were thinking clearly when they see patients, and if doctors had to pay a reasonable amount when they ruin lives.  See below Consumer Watchdog press release and LA Times article.

Doctors That Harm - The Real Stories Insurance Companies Against Prop 46 Don't Want You To Know: Dr. Carl Bergstrom
Lisa Cohen

 CARMEL, CA: Dr. Bergstrom was arrested based on a report of sexual assault after a night of drinking.

During the trial, the prosecution produced an audiotape which Dr. Bergstrom had accidentally created when he left his office dictation machine on. Dr. Bergstrom was heard buying cocaine, using cocaine, and trading cocaine for sex on the 5.5 hours-long audiotape. Dr. Bergstrom admitted at trial that he traded prescription drugs for cocaine.

The audiotape also recorded Dr. Bergstrom issuing medical orders, dictating patient chart notes, and providing telephone consultations to patients after using, and while under the influence of, cocaine.
During the trial, two other women testified that they were similarly assaulted by Dr. Bergstrom. Both testified that they believed that they may have been drugged.

Dr. Bergstrom was ultimately sentenced to prison for felony sexual battery. As a result, Dr. Bergstrom's medical license was revoked.

Proposition 46, the Troy and Alana Pack Patient Safety Act, will enact the first law in the nation to require random drug and alcohol tests of physicians in hospitals, modeled after the Federal Aviation Administration testing program that has successfully reduced substance abuse by pilots. Doctors found to be impaired on the job will have their license suspended. If Prop 46 had been in effect, Dr. Bergstrom's drug abuse may have been detected, possibly preventing threats to patient safety in the process.

Hall of Shame: Insurance Companies Backing No on 46

NorCal Mutual Insurance Company    $11,000,000.00
The Doctors Company    $10,500,000.00
Cooperative of American Physicians    $10,161,489.04
Kaiser Foundation Health Plan    $5,000,000.00
Medical Insurance Exchange of California    $5,000,000.00
The Dentists Insurance Company    $1,620,000.00
The Mutual Risk Retention Group    $1,000,000.00

All Insurers:     $44,613,583.22

Total:     $59,169,984.79

Insurance companies have spent nearly $45 million dollars to oppose Prop 46 in order to shield dangerous doctors like Dr. Bergstrom from punishment, at the expense of patient safety, in order to protect their already substantial profits. In total, the opposition to Prop 46 has over $59 million dollars in their warchest, outspending consumer and patient safety advocates more than 8:1.

Learn more about Proposition 46 and the campaign for patient safety at:

Your Neighbors for Patient Safety, a Coalition of Consumer Attorneys and Patient Safety Advocates - Consumer Attorneys of California Issues
Initiative Defense Political Action Committees
Kabateck, Brown, Kellner, LLP

A voter guide to California's boring but important ballot propositions
George Skelton Los Angeles Times
Oct. 30, 2014

...Prop. 46 would return the limit on medical malpractice pain-and-suffering payouts to the same dollar value it was in 1975. Inflation has greatly eroded it.

Doctors, hospitals and insurers have raised more than $55 million to kill the measure. They claim it would cause healthcare costs to skyrocket. The nonpartisan Legislative Analyst's Office, however, calculates the increased cost as practically infinitesimal: less than 0.5%.

Back in 1975, then-Gov. Brown and the Legislature set the cap on noneconomic damage awards at $250,000. If that had been adjusted annually for inflation, it would be $1.1 million today. That's where Prop. 46 would reset it.

Opposition ads are demonizing trial lawyers, contending Prop. 46 is all about enriching them. But it's really about securing justice for malpractice victims, who now have difficulty hiring lawyers because the potential awards are so low.

The measure also does two other things. It would require drug and alcohol testing of hospital doctors. And to fight pain pill addiction, it would force doctors to use a state database that tracks patients' prescription histories.

It's long past time to bring the medical malpractice cap into the 21st century. And there's nothing wrong with requiring hospital doctors to undergo drug testing, as pilots and bus drivers do. Controlling pain pill addiction through modern technology also makes sense...

Tuesday, October 28, 2014

Pope says God is not a magician who waves a wand

Pope says evolution, Big Bang are real

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis has waded into the controversial debate over the origins of human life, saying the big bang theory did not contradict the role of a divine creator, but even required it.
The pope was addressing the plenary assembly of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences, which gathered Monday at the Vatican to discuss "Evolving Concepts of Nature."

"When we read about Creation in Genesis, we run the risk of imagining God was a magician, with a magic wand able to do everything. But that is not so," Francis said.

"He created human beings and let them develop according to the internal laws that he gave to each one so they would reach their fulfillment."

Francis said the beginning of the world was not "a work of chaos" but created from a principle of love. He said sometimes competing beliefs in creation and evolution could co-exist.

Pope Francis tells an audience that the Big Bang does not contradict the "creative intervention of God". He says, "on the contrary, it requires it". Rough Cut (no reporter narration). Newslook
"God is not a divine being or a magician, but the Creator who brought everything to life," the pope said. "Evolution in nature is not inconsistent with the notion of creation, because evolution requires the creation of beings that evolve."
Unlike much of evangelical Protestantism in the U.S., Catholic teaching traditionally has not been at odds with evolution. In 1950, Pope Pius XII proclaimed there was no opposition between evolution and Catholic doctrine. In 1996, St. John Paul II endorsed Pius' statement.
Some wondered if Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI wanted to change that when he and some acolytes seemed to endorse the theory of intelligent design, the idea that the world is too complex to have evolved according to Charles Darwin's theory of natural selection.
Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn of Vienna, a close associate of Benedict, penned a widely noticed 2005 op-ed in The New York Times that said "Evolution in the sense of common ancestry might be true, but evolution in the neo-Darwinian sense — an unguided, unplanned process … is not."
Giovanni Bignami, a professor and president of Italy's National Institute for Astrophysics, welcomed Francis' comments, saying he had buried the "pseudo theories" of creationists.
"The pope's statement is significant," Bignami told Italian news agency Adnkronos. "We are the direct descendants from the Big Bang that created the universe. Evolution came from creation."
Giulio Giorello, professor of the philosophy of science at Milan's University degli Studi, said he believed Francis was "trying to reduce the emotion of dispute or presumed disputes" with science.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Did UCSD deal in good faith with C.H.E. Cafe?

October 22, 2014

SAN DIEGO – On Tuesday, October 21, 2014, at approximately 10:00 a.m., San Diego Superior Court Judge Katherine Bacal issued a ruling in favor of UCSD in the eviction lawsuit filed by the Regents of the University of California/UCSD at the behest of a select core of administrators (“Administration”) against the C.H.E. Café Collective over the use of the iconic 34-year old, vegan, student-controlled venue and creative space, the C.H.E. Café.
Upholding the Collective’s main legal theory, Judge Bacal rejected the Administration's claim that the dispute resolution provisions of the lease did not apply to the termination at issue in this case. However, she also found there was insufficient evidence that a formal request for dispute resolution had been made by the Collective, thus permitting the Administration to terminate the lease at will. Yet, the Administration had acknowledged a request for dispute resolution had been made but had argued it was mooted by a previous lawsuit filed by the Collective that was later dismissed.  In addition, the Collective was reassured in various conversations that it was protected by a ‘holdover status’ provision in the lease and that it did not need to worry about an eviction. 
Completely disregarding these earlier reassurances, the University filed its eviction lawsuit and argued in court that dispute resolution was never formally requested by the Collective.  
Ignoring the true facts and history of negotiations, the Administration was able to convince the Judge that the formal requirements for invoking dispute resolution had not been followed by the Collective, and the Court ultimately held that thus the Administration had a right to terminate the lease with the Collective.   
"I am glad the judge sided with our position that the dispute resolution provision portion of the lease applied to this termination," stated Bryan Pease, attorney for the Collective. "I am just a bit perplexed that the basis for ruling in favor of the University was lack of evidence that dispute resolution had been requested, when there was evidence before the Court that it had been, and when both parties addressed it in closing arguments. The University misled its own students throughout the last several years by consistently asserting that dispute resolution did not apply, and that the Collective did not need to formally request dispute resolution as part of the lease terms. Unfortunately, apparently applying the same tactics, the University was able to convince the Court that it had the right to evict the Collective at will.”   
Katherine A. Bacal is a judge for the Superior Court of San Diego County in California. She was appointed by former governor Arnold Schwarzenegger in January 2008 to succeed Thomas C. Hendrix. 


Bacal received a bachelor's degree from the University of Redlands and a J.D. from the University of Texas at Austin.


Tuesday, October 07, 2014

New Jersey school cancels football season amid criminal bullying probe

New Jersey school cancels football season amid criminal probe

The football season at a storied New Jersey high school has been canceled amid "significant and serious" allegations of harassment, intimidation and bullying.
Sayreville Schools Superintendent Rich Labbe made the announcement late Monday during a meeting with the parents of football players. The development follows word of a criminal investigation by the county prosecutor, which Labbe said he could not discuss. Labbe says Prosecutor Andrew Carey told him there is credible evidence to indicate pervasive, wide-scale and generally accepted forms of harassment, intimidation and bullying within the program.
"We can set the standard right now for all kids, for all school districts in Middlesex County, in the state and in the nation that we are not going to stand around and allow kids to do this to one another," Labbe said. "We are going to start holding our students responsible for doing the right thing and reporting these kinds of behaviors."
"We are going to start holding our students responsible for doing the right thing and reporting these kinds of behaviors."- Schools Superintendent Rich Labbe
Sayreville's team has won three sectional titles over the past four years and is widely regarded as one of the state's top public school football programs. The Bombers string of 20 consecutive playoff appearances will now come to an end, The Home News Tribune reports.
The district canceled and forfeited a game that was scheduled last Friday. A criminal investigation is ongoing and details will not be released until its completed, authorities said.
Labbe said he could not discuss the future of the coaching staff, some of whom may face criminal charges. He announced last week that prosecutors were investigations allegations of a "significant and serious nature" within the program. The alleged victims and perpetrators have not been identified, he said.
"Right now our focus is on several things," Labbe said. "First and foremost, our focus is on the victims involved in this case. We want them and their parents to know that we are here for them and willing to do anything and everything to help so that they feel safe once again in our schools. Secondly, we do have to remember that this is a criminal investigation in which all parties are innocent until proven guilty. We also have to do everything in our power to cooperate with law enforcement, which primarily included staying out of their way."
Sayreville Athletics Director John Kohutanycz reportedly discussed the level of supervision school district officials provide for children before, during and after competitions and practices. Counselors have also been made available for any student who may have been impacted by the situation.
"We are standing up together as a Board of Education and as a district in saying no to bullying in Sayreville," Labbe said. "And we are inviting others to join us in our stance."
Also last week, an assistant football coach at the high school resigned amid allegations that he possessed steroids. Labbe said the allegations against the former defensive coordinator were the focus of a separate investigation and were not related to the cancellation of last week's game.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.