Lisa Zenzen Baker, 1961-2003

E-mail: answersforlisa@hotmail.com

Thursday, July 02, 2015

Watching the watchdogs


Commentary


Big media's open secret


By David Baker
Posted Thursday July 2, 2015

Once again this week, ads for St. Peter's Health Partners are everywhere in the Albany (N.Y.) Times Union.
Here's the tally for Sunday: One full page, one strip across the bottom of page 1, and five quarter-page ads.
Then there are at least three quarter-pages and one full page every other day of the week. An ad on its smartphone app. And an ad on the paper's web page, announcing that the latest news is sponsored by the company.
That's the schedule, week after week.
And that's in just one of the area three daily newspapers. Then there are the commercials on radio and TV.
St. Peter's Heath Partners is spending a lot of money promoting itself - in an area where, following a 2011 merger, it dominates the healthcare market.
But as the many posts on my web page and blog suggest, this spending brings an added benefit: Information about lawsuits alleging deaths and injuries from negligence are ignored. It doesn't matter how serious the harm, how unusual the claim or how high the settlement - nothing appears in the newspapers.
And it's not only allegations of medical harm that don't get coverage; lawsuits against St. Perter's Health Partners alleging sexual harassment and discrimination are also ignored, even as similar claims against non-advertisers get prominent stories.
Even more disturbing is that so-called media watchdogs - the editors at the Columbia Journalism Review in particular - say it's not a story.
Why? Because lots of newspapers are doing the same thing. There's nothing unusual about it, they say, therefore it's not news.
That's a disturbing assessment of journalism in this country.  And apparently it's shared by several other self-appointed media monitors who, over the past several years, have shown no interest in the situation. Most of them didn't bother to reply to my correspondence, apparently unwilling to acknowledge what appears to be an open secret: news pages are for sale. American's big media is inherently corrupt.
I am in the process of setting up a new web page on which I will name these people. I will also post a series of e-mail messages to and from CJR, going back to 2006.
They paint a deeply disturbing picture, in which information of obvious public interest is routinely suppressed.
And media critics, in on the deal, look the other way.

www.capitaldistricthealthclaims.com
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Tuesday, June 02, 2015

Injured child


Lawsuit alleges premature birth
caused baby’s permanent injury


By David Baker
Posted June 2, 2015
389 words


The parents of a baby boy who has cerebral palsy have filed a lawsuit against a doctor and several medical entities claiming a failure to diagnose a condition that can cause a premature birth has left the child with a permanent disability.

Courtney and Anthony Sroka, II of Averill Park filed the claim against Vincent. A. Corcoran, M.D. and Seton Health OB/GYN.  The complaint also names St. Peter’s Health Partners – which, following a 2011 merger, operates Seton OB/GYN.

Also named is Trinity Health Corp., a not-for-profit corporation based in Livonia, Michigan that operates 86 hospitals in 21 states, including the four Capital District hospitals now a part of St. Peter’s Health Partners.

According to the complaint, Corcoran began treating Sroka for her pregnancy in April 2012.  The child was born prematurely in November of that year. Corcoran, it says, breached the duty of care by “…negligently and careless failing to consider and/or recognize the Plaintiff was at risk of having an incompetent cervix which could lead to premature birth of her child.”

The complaint also alleges that Corcoran failed to “…properly perform, review and interpret sonograms/ultrasounds of  the Plaintiff and her unborn child.”

The cervix is normally closed and rigid during most of a pregnancy. As the birth approaches, it relaxes and becomes shorter, finally opening enough to allow the baby to leave the womb.

According to the Mayo Clinic’s web page, an “incompetent cervix” is a condition when weak cervical tissue causes or contributes to premature birth or the loss of an otherwise healthy baby, most often between the eighteenth and twenty-second  week of pregnancy. Detecting the condition can be challenging if there is no history of miscarriage, it says, and but treatments are usually successful.

The complaint alleges that the child “…has sustained certain serious and permanent injuries, damages and disabilities, including, but not limited to, cerebral palsy, which have resulted  in great pain and discomfort, as well as physical and mental anguish, and excruciating conscious pain and suffering, all of which are permanent and will continue into the future.”  It seeks an unspecified amount in damages and costs.

The complaint – incorrectly dated April 10, 2014 – was  filed in April of this year by the Albany law firm O’Connell & Aronowitz.  Responses from attorneys representing the defendants were not on file at the time the complaint was obtained.

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Avoiding punishment


Legal filings show hospital’s efforts to
avoid punitive damages in burn case


By David Baker
Posted June 2, 2015
438 words


Today there is more evidence of Albany Memorial Hospital’s desperate efforts to avoid a claim for putitive damages – even after two nurses had admitted under oath that they failed to report that a patient had been burned when an ice pack containing hot water had been place under him, and that for three weeks nursing staff had lied to the patient’s family about what had happened, telling them he had a bedsore.

The lawsuit – Leonard Guyette and Rita Guyette vs. Albany Memorial Hospital and Northeast Health – was first described here back in June 2014.  The story contained extracts from the deposition transcripts of the two nurses.

A link to that story is below.

Those admissions prompted the Guyettes’ lawyer to ask the court for permission to file an amended complaint, adding a claim for putitive damages.  Memorial Hospital objected, saying that because the claim for putitive damages wasn’t made earlier in written responses to questions, they would not be able to defend the claim.

The judge, Michael C. Lynch, disagreed.

“The Court rejects defendants’ arguments,” he wrote in a decision and order.  “A review of the several deposition transcripts included in the record before the Court indicates that delay in informing plaintiffs and their family of the burn to plaintiff was discussed at length at these examinations before trial.”

Quoting an appellate court decision, Lynch wrote: “In addition, ‘punitive damages are permitted when the defendant’s wrongdoing is not simply intentional but evidences a high degree of moral turpitude and demonstrates such wanton dishonesty as to imply a criminal indifference to civil obligations.’  Thus the Court grants plaintiffs’ motion for leave to amend their complaint to add a demand for putitive damages.”

But Memorial’s lawyers weren’t done trying to stop the new claim. They immediately filed another motion, this one asking the judge to dismiss the demand.  This time Lynch didn’t even explain his decision.  “This Court reiterates that the pleadings validate the inclusion of the putitive damages demand,” he wrote.  “Accordingly, the defendants’ motion is DENIED.”

That decision was dated April 21, 2008.  Three days later, the case was settled.
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The records in Guyettes’ lawsuit are extensive but they don’t indicate how much was paid to settle it.  However, putitive damages are just that; meant to punish a defendant and deter it and others from similar conduct rather than compensate the victim. As such they are usually much higher than the amount paid in ordinary damages.

Also, because they are a punishment, it’s unlikely that putitive damages would be covered by insurance. In the Guyette case, Northeast Health probably had to pay that part of the settlement itself.

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The first story on the Guyette case is HERE
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Wednesday, April 15, 2015

And now, live..


New media phone platform
 puts everyone at the scene

By David Baker
Posted Wednesday April 15, 2015

Two weeks ago, people began using a new iPhone and iPad app that can make everybody a broadcaster. Called Periscope, it can put anybody with a smartphone right at the scene of breaking news, or in someone’s living room for a chat.
In one evening this week, I was on the set in a TV studio as the anchors were on the air, then, during breaks, talking among themselves and to the “visitors” on Periscope - who can send text messages that appear on the screen. A few minutes later I was at the scene of a shooting outside a gas station in the Midwest. Then it was on to a meeting room somewhere in Washington, D.C., where Congressman Bernie Sanders was at a podium addressing a small audience. 
This afternoon, President Obama was in what looked like a elementary school classroom in South Carolina. Most of his casual remarks won’t be on the news but as a teleported visitor, I was in that audience.
In the next few days I will be doing a broadcast. I’ll explain how I came to be writing about lawsuits against medical providers that the newspapers here have ignored. I’ll take questions and respond to comments.
Periscope is now owned by Twitter, and its going to be big. It’s yet enough way of going around the mainstream media - a media that in Albany, N.Y. has ignored dozens of lawsuits alleging avoidable deaths and injuries filed against big advertisers.

I will probably do the first broadcast next week. Check back here for the date and time.
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Monday, March 30, 2015

Case over


Update: Kidney damage claim settled

By David Baker
Posted March 29. 2015
225 words


A lawsuit in which a woman claims she suffered permanent damage to her kidneys has been settled a month before a scheduled trial.

The lawsuit, named physicians Axel Herrmannsdoerfer and Antonio Gregorian. According to the complaint, in April 2012, Susan J. Birch of Saratoga County went to an urgent care facility operated by Seton Health Systems in Clifton Park, where she was prescribed the antibiotic Zithromax by the defendant Herrmannsdoerfer.

Herrmannsdoerfer, the suit says, knew or should have known that Birch was allergic to the medication

The following day Birch called the facility and described her symptoms to the other defendant physician, Antonio Gregorian.  Gregorian then changed Birch’s prescription to Amoxicillin but allegedly did not advise Birch to go to the facility or any other emergency facility for an evaluation of her condition.

The lawsuit was filed in June 2013. An exclusive story about it was posted here on June 14, 2014. Like many lawsuits that begin with vigorous denials of liability, it ended last week with a settlement just before it would have gone to a jury. It was scheduled to go to trial in state Supreme Court in Rensselaer County on April 27.

Also named as defendants were Seton Health Systems Inc. and St. Peter’s Health Partners.

Birch was represented by the Albany law firm Powers & Santola. Representing the defendants were Thorn, Gershon, Tymann & Bonanni.
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Thursday, February 12, 2015

Double injury

Treatment following
 car crash leads to claim


By David Baker
Posted Feb 12, 2015
169 words


A woman who was treated at Samaritan Hospital in Troy, N.Y. after an automobile crash has filed a lawsuit against the hospital and an emergency room physician in which she claims she suffered serious injuries – including the amputation of “several digits” – as a result of the defendants’ malpractice.

Named in the suit, filed by Michelle Butler of Troy, are Alexander Grinshpun, M.D. and Samaritan Hospital. Grinshpun appears on Google search results as an employee of Emergency Medicine Physicians, which lists the same Troy address as the hospital.

According to the suit, Grinshpun was Butler’s treating physician following the car crash on July 26, 2013. As a result of the alleged malpractice, Butler “…was hospitalized, underwent surgery and amputation of several digits; suffered and still sufferers great physical and mental pain and anguish sustained severe injures; was obliged to and did expend large sums of money for medical aid and suffered lost wages.”

The suit was filed in October 2014 by the law firm Frost & Kavanaugh of Troy.
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Permanent injuries alleged


 Hospital named in
 missed diagnosis claim

By David Baker
Posted Feb. 12, 2015
179 words


A woman who allegedly was permanently injured when a case of appendicitis was not immediately diagnosed at Samaritan Hospital in Troy N.Y. has filed a lawsuit against the hospital.

According to a brief notice, Nicole Matala, of Cambridge, Washington County  went to the emergency room at Samaritan on May 11, 2013. But the condition was not diagnosed until the next day.

“There was a failure to timely consider, diagnose and timely and appropriately treat and medically and surgically manage the plaintiff/patient’s condition,” the notice says. “As a result of the delays in consideration, diagnosis, treatment and management of the plaintiff/patient’s condition she suffered serious and permanent injuries and consequences, pain, suffering and damages.”

The suit was filed by Troy attorney E. Stewart Jones. As has been noted in pervious posts on the this blog, Jones has for several years filed lawsuits against medical providers with only a summons with notice rather than a more detailed complaint.

In addition to the hospital, the suit also names Northeast Health, Inc. and St. Peter’s Health Partners, Inc. No doctors or other staff are named as defendants.
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Friday, February 06, 2015

Journalists in name only


COMMENT

Reporters appear to be unfazed
by management's lack of integrity

By David Baker
Posted Friday Feb. 6, 2015.
273 words


Brendan Lyons works for the Albany Times Union.  He evidently considers himself a journalist – his Twitter name includes the word ''writer" - but he seems untroubled by his employer’s total lack of journalist integrity.

As is documented on this blog, over the past 15 years the Times Union has routinely ignored dozens of lawsuits filed against the area’s hospitals – while running a continuous stream of advertising for them. 

And its not the paper doesn’t publish details of claims. It does.  Just today there is a story about a lawsuit alleging harassment.  It alleges an employee was subjected to a bizarre sexual hazing ritual.

It names the Capital Transportation Authority and others.  It was written by Lyons.

But there’s another lawsuit making its way through the courts that also alleges harassment.  In it, Patricia Cocozzo alleges numerous violations of New York’s Human Rights Law, including sexual harassment, age discrimination and disability discrimination. Cocozzo also complains of a hostile work environment, constructive dismissal, and retaliation for complaining about the alleged harassment. She claims a co-worker at Samaritan Hospital showed her a video of him having sex with another woman.

Sounds like a strong story, every bit as worthy of coverage in the Times Union as the one against the CDTA. 

But it has never been mentioned. A look at the name of the defendants explains why: They are Northeast Health, and its governing body,  St. Peter’s Health Partners – big TU advertisers and where the paper’s publisher has a seat on the board.

And it’s not that Lyons was unaware of the Cocozzo case; a copy of the complaint was emailed to him back in mid December. He never acknowledged it. Why would he? Like apparently all the reporters at the area’s papers, he evidently has no problem with a management that has totally abandoned its duty to inform the public, and is as every bit corrupt as the people it lectures to about ethics, accountability, honesty and trust.

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Spot the difference

The TU story on the CDTA lawsuit is HERE

The exclusive story on this blog on the Cocozzo lawsuit is HERE

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Thursday, January 08, 2015

An invitation


Facebook community page 

In the first seven days of this year, just over 5,000 visits have been logged on this blog.  Many of those hits have come via a community page on Facebook.

This is an invitation for you to log on to that page.

Once there, you can leave a comment, as many people have done on the story below about the newborn allegedly injured at the Burdett Care Center in Troy.  You can share post links on your own Facebook page - as 30 people did during the past week on the baby story.  And you can join the page, so that it appears on the left side of your own Facebook page when you are logged in.

Here's the page link:

https://www.facebook.com/capitaldistricthealthclaims

Twitter: @answersforlisa
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