Articles Posted in Ethics

amputate-300x157Although the Covid-19 pandemic may be opening more and more Americans’ eyes to the harsh effects of the country’s economic and racial inequities, the stark damage from the nation’s health disparities can be plain to see — in truly disheartening ways.

Lizzie Presser, a reporter for the Pulitzer Prize-winning investigative site ProPublica, deserves high praise for her distressing article on “The Black Amputation Epidemic.” As she wrote recently from deep in the poverty, neglect, and racial discrimination of the Mississippi Delta:

“[W]ithin months, the new coronavirus would sweep the United States, killing tens of thousands of people, a disproportionately high number of them black and diabetic. They were at a disadvantage, put at risk by an array of factors, from unequal health care access to racist biases to cuts in public health funding. These elements have long driven disparities, particularly across the South. One of the clearest ways to see them is by tracking who suffers diabetic amputations, which are, by one measure, the most preventable surgery in the country.

disinfectkellysikkema-300x201Because Covid-19 is caused by a novel coronavirus, the world has much to learn about it and its effects. For the voting and taxpaying public, a critical line of inquiry in the days ahead may be this: Why does this disease also seem to cause such an outbreak of shiftiness among our leaders?

Let’s start at the already beleaguered federal Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, once considered among the globe’s best agencies in handling infectious diseases.

Sure, the medical science changes by the day about Covid-19. But why did the agency set itself up for deserved criticism by changing, “without formal announcement or explanation,” its guidance about the infectiousness of “contaminated” surfaces and how the coronavirus spreads? That had been an issue of key concern for experts, who had cautioned the public for weeks now about hygiene and care in coming in contact with such areas. Instead, CDC officials tweaked the language on the agency web site, diminishing the risks. Maybe, they thought, well, that should do it.

chartGAOnursinghomeinfection-300x300Is the coronavirus’s staggering toll on patients in nursing homes something to be written off as a force of nature for which humans bear little fault? Or are there lessons to be learned about shortcomings that could help preserve lives the next time?

News media reports keep unearthing institutional misery and a blindness to the suffering of the aged, chronically ill, and seriously injured. Bad luck, shrug facility owners and operators, seemingly joined in by regulators and some politicians. Couldn’t be helped. Did the best we could.

In fact, investigations — by journalists and watchdogs — have shown the toll taken by nursing homes’ sloppy disregard for infection control, press for profits, and unacceptable paralysis as situations headed south.

covidhospitalbed-199x300When it comes to aggravating parties in the U.S. health care system, a certain French phrase captures an uncomfortable reality: “Plus ça change” — as in plus ça change, plus c’est la même chose or “The more it changes, the more it stays the same.”

We can see that here:

buckeyelogo-300x158The Buckeyes have become the latest in a sad, expanding list of colleges, universities, and other institutions to reach big settlements over students’ long sexual abuse by twisted medical staffers, with Ohio State University agreeing to pay $41 million to 162 male athletes for two decades of molestation and mistreatment by a team doctor.

After years of complaints and an outside investigation by a prominent law firm, OSU fessed up and said it should have done far more to listen to aggrieved wrestlers, football players, and others as they told coaches and other adults about the perverse conduct about assaults committed by Richard H. Strauss, a doctor to various men’s sports teams and professor from 1978 to 1998. He died by suicide in 2005.

During his time, students would testify to university trustees and investigators, the doctor’s inappropriate transgressions included activities that “ranged from groping to requiring them to strip unnecessarily to asking them questions about their sexual behavior under the guise of medical treatment,” the New York Times reported.

covidprotestersmich-300x138Even as the nation battles the Covid-19 pandemic, leaders at all levels need to protect our democracy by both allowing appropriate expression of different points of view while also ensuring that extremists do not shove themselves into the center of public policy-making about crucial health concerns.

Americans — to their great distaste — have gotten a dose of the serious consequences that can occur when fringe, counter-factual thinking infects leaders thinking (or what passes for thought). Private companies and medical experts had to rise up to push back against President Trump’s “musing” or “sarcasm” about somehow “getting into the body” bleach, disinfectant products, and powerful light sources to attack the novel coronavirus.

As the New York Times reported:

mitch-150x150It’s a little hard to fathom but actions speak louder than words: For political partisans, what seems to be scarier than a novel coronavirus that has infected more than 1 million Americans and claimed more lives in a few weeks than years of U.S. involvement in Vietnam?

Trial lawyers. Like me. Really?

Politico, the news web site, reported that Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell and House Minority Leader Kevin McCarthy have grown adamant that “any” legislation Congress considers in the days ahead involving Covid-19 must shield an array of business interests from liability from “frivolous” lawsuits. Politico quoted him, thusly:

droz-150x150 drdrew-150x150DrPhil-150x150Even as countless health care workers put themselves at risk and display courage, professionalism, and compassion in caring for Covid-19 patients, a growing collection of colleagues are showering themselves in shame, showing that the credential M.D. may stand for master of dubiousness or Ph.D. is  someone whose nonsense is piled high and deep.

As the folks at the HealthNewsReview.org warned a “desperate public,” too ready to embrace self-promoting doctors and others because they are hungry for purported expertise as a pandemic sweeps the globe:

“Beware these red flags: partisan and hyperbolic language and hawking of unproven treatments that seem too good to be true. Seek solid advice from longtime public health institutions: the [federal Centers of Disease Control and Prevention] and the World Health Organization. Understand that because this disease is novel, information is rapidly changing and often tenuous – uncertainties that can be exploited for fame and fortune.”

courtgavel-billoxford-300x166Although big businesses in recent years have developed their legal equivalent of a great white shark — a big system churning along to savage disputes involving potentially many small claimants — innovators may have found a new way to start to tame beastly aspects of the process known as forced arbitration: Scoop up lots of small fish and jam them into the menace’s maw so it cries mercy.

Metaphors aside, the New York Times reported that legal startups have already “scared to death” corporations that swear by this dubious legal practice.

Forced arbitration is a booming part of the legal system that rips important constitutional protections away from ordinary individuals who have disputes with big businesses, compelling them to have their cases considered in private systems with huge ties to the very corporate interests that appear in them as parties in legal controversies.

covidstayhome-sharonmccutcheon-200x300With President Trump, members of his administration, and other politicians shoving back against public health officials’ recommendations on when to get Americans out of their homes and returning to work, the ultimate decision may be up to individuals: Do we give up the existing physical-distancing guidance? Or not?

The data on Covid-19 infections and deaths is still building, but it may be worth reviewing what is known about the disease, whom it afflicts, and how.

Based on the deaths of those diagnosed with the novel coronavirus, it has been deadlier for men than women. It is taking a terrible and disproportionate toll among African Americans, with Latinos afflicted at high rates, too.

Patrick Malone & Associates, P.C. listed in Best Lawyers Rated by Super Lawyers Patrick A. Malone
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