There are two hospital systems in greater Cleveland, Ohio. Cleveland Clinic is known as one of the best hospitals around the world. They control two thirds of the medical community in Cleveland. University Hospitals controls the balance, minus one or two independent hospitals. If being a billable number is your idea of patient care, the Clinic is for you. Our story is of course, OUR story, and so are the impressions provided here. As they say everywhere, “results may vary.” In 2000 I lost 40 % of my body weight and I had to beg my insurance company to let be be admitted to the Clinic. I was thrown out of the hospital four days later and was called a red herring. The neurologist said “when a woman comes in with that many symptoms, it’s almost always psychological in nature. I saw the psychiatrist and the psychologist and they both advised me to get to a good medical doctor fast.
After months of research with my husband, my eye doctor said “What do they think it is this week”? Based on what we found, I said Behcets Disease.
He sat back and said “I know who to send you to.” I went to see a friend of his, a rheumatologist , and I was officially diagnosed in August of 2000.
Then I found this great rheumatologist closer to home and he was terrific. Then I found out how ridiculous the tort reform bill in Ohio is.
I was riding my horse and some kid cantered up behind my horse, scared him to the point where he felt he had to fight. He bucked as high as he could and I was launched over him and landed on the ground with such a thud it could be heard in the lounge where my husband was. I don’t remember any of this I just remember seeing the barn owner carrying me out and going to the hospital. I broke eight ribs, my scapula. clavicle, and hip. The card I carry for my Behcets says before surgery you must call the patient’s rheumatologist. Even when my husband got him on the phone they refused to speak to him. I also had a pneumo and hemo thorax so I had to have a spinal for the hip surgery. The attending called in a surgeon from another Clinic hospital who was apprised of my condition. He decided to go with the pinning method despite my having osteopenia. Twenty four hours later the pins had pushed through the bone out to the skin and the bone telescoped down onto itself.
I was in a wheelchair when I went to see the surgeon four weeks later, the intern came in and his jaw dropped and became pale when he saw the films. The surgeon came in and he said next time if the therapy doesn’t add the 2 inches to that leg you’ll just where a lift in your shoe.
Fortunately for me I found another surgeon who put a replacement hip in and I am able to walk and even ride my horse again.
I found an attorney after a long search who would possibly take my case. We thought we had a good case, The hospital refused to talk to my rheumatologist , the surgeon’s pinning lasted less than 24hours, for the eight weeks I was in the wheelchair I was in constant pain. I had to wait eight hours for an antibiotic and all my heart valves leak from the Behcets.
Before I found this attorney I called a phone book full of lawyers and every one of them said ” if we didn’t have the tort reform law in Ohio I’d take it in a minute. It’s just too expensive to take on a case like this because you literally have to prove it before you walk into the courtroom, The most you can get is $250,000.00 and by the time we do our research and get all the records and get the experts you might wind up with $5000.00.” The first time I heard this I thought this guy was just lazy, but when I heard it over fifty times I couldn’t believe that no one cared about the pain and suffering I went through and boy was I depressed.
Finally I found the lawyers that yes. We got my files for them so that was free. He kept telling me we’ll just have to see how things go, but I expect they’ll settle eventually.
In December I felt pain in my hip so I called the doctor. He was out of town but another one who was covering for him scheduled a hip aspiration. It was positive and that Sunday I had surgery again. My regular doctor came back and I told him I was having a reaction to the antibiotic, he said no there was no rash. I had been so sick the day before the second surgery when they gave me a shot of morphine the pain shot through my abdomen to my back and didn’t let up for hours.
On Wednesday, despite how ill I was the night before I had another hip surgery. I argued with the resident that it was safer for me to go home to recover than to stay in the Hospital which is true. We went home and my husband dutifully called the lawyer to tell him what had happened. He said ” I don’t know if we will be able to go ahead with the lawsuit. I went home with a pic line so I could have IVS daily. They sent me home on the medication had, had so much trouble with at the hospital. On New Years Day I ran a 107.5 fever and back to the hospital I went. My Infectious Disease doctor got me out of there in four days because it was a drug fever and I went home on another antibiotic.
After all this and after all the pain, the surgeries, the therapy to recover and having a permanent parrot perch that’s what I affectionately call my right scapula because no one operated on it, we got a call from the lawyer.
He said because of tort reform and your underlying condition we cant afford to take the case. He gave my husband the name of another attorney and before he could begin the story he said we don’t do those kind of cases anymore in Ohio because of tort reform. One of the attorneys said if I hadn’t gotten my leg fixed we might have a case. Another one said if i died they would take the case.
In Ohio my pain means nothing to our legislature, and the only thing the lawyers care about is their bottom line. It’s time to change the law and it’s time that lawyers do their jobs, my infection had nothing to do with the case but it would make it harder to win and more time consuming so who cares? Nobody.