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OpEdNews Op Eds    H2'ed 8/19/08

Patients and Doctors Demand Protection for Truth-Tellers

Message James Murtagh
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Washigton-  Patient advocacy groups and Doctors groups have joined in an unprecedented cooperation to protect medical quality, safety, cost and efficiency. These groups, including the Medical Whistleblower Association, the Semmelweis Society International, Mothers against Medical error, have joined with the Government Accountability project and the International Associatioon of Whistleblowers (IAW), to make passage of HR 985 and S. 274- the Whistleblower Protection Amendments (WPA)- a top priority.  

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“Possibly 100,000 people die from medical error every year, “stated Dr. James Murtagh, co-chair of the IAW. “This is simply unacceptable. Worse, these deaths are the direct result of stonewalling and silence inside of hospital culture. It is high time that doctors and patients band together to make sure our loved ones are as safe as possible in hospitals, and that patients get the care they deserve. We want every possible group to sign on to this campaign- patients, doctors, citizens. We need every local group, every national group. This is the big one.”     

 

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“If we don’t protect the truth tellers, people die,” stated Dr. Blake Moore, conference director for the Semmelweis Society International (SSI), a group of doctors and professionals who back patient safety. “We must pass the Whistleblower Protection Amendments. Patient safety and doctors careers are at stake.”   SSI is planning an emergency meeting and a high-level campaign to lobby for the WPA. SSI is recruiting all doctor and patient groups in every community of America to join into this effort.   No group is too big, and none is too small. We are all patients, and every American has a stake in the safest and best good faith medical care possible.

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Some of the most important components of the WPA include:

   (1)  WPA grants jury trials as government contractors, in many instances

   (2)  Covers VA and all other civil service government doctors

  (3)  Strives to get legislative history that includes peer review

   (4)  Scientific Freedom protects any federally funded research

 Organizers note that medical truth-tellers must be protected so that the public can be confident in the integrity of hospitals. “Without truth tellers like Dr. Patrick Campbell of Redding California, no one would have ever known that Tenet HMO was performing thousands of unnecessary heart surgeries. Tenet put profit before patients.” Dr. Murtagh continued. “Healthcare fraud costs this nation billions, and leads to loss of life. As a physician, I find this intolerable."

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Mr. Tom Devine, Esq., leader of the Government Accountability Project (GAP) made clear. “The WPA is the most important immediate step we can take to protect patients and doctors. But this is just the first step. We have a string of bills in the pipeline to protect medical whistleblowers, including a corporate bill for medical whistleblowers: We are committed to protecting medical truth tellers who work in both the federal and private sectors.”  

Other leaders of the group noted that the federal government is by far the biggest player in healthcare, and federal protections would go far to help doctors even at private hospitals. “Virtually every hospital receives important federal funding,” continued Dr. Moore. “No hospital should continue to receive a dime of federal money until they comply with all federal regulations. Thus, the WPA will have far reaching effects on all patients and doctors who have any affiliation with virtually any hospital.”  

By cutting fraudsters off from federal money, we can and must protect patient care. People's lives are at stake. No more profit before patients.  We urge newspapers everywhere to reprint this article, and for all citizens to join this campaign. We need everyone! No federal dollars without real accountability. Good faith is the essential prerequisite for public support.

Semmelweis, GAP, IAW and others urge all citizens to reprint this article everywhere, and to join the fight for better hospital safety. Please contact the following immediately:

 

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE  

Contact: Adam Miles, Government Accountability Project Legislative Representative
Phone: 202.408.0034 ext 132, cell 202.276.2007
Email: adamm@whistleblower.org

Contact: Beth Daley, Project on Government Oversight Director of Investigations
Phone: 202.347.1122
Email: bdaley@pogo.org

 

Further supporting materials are available on the legislative page of GAP’s website,www.whistleblower.org, or the website of the Make It Safe Coalition, www.makeitsafecampaign.org. GAP legal director Tom Devine (202-408-0034, ext. 124,tomd@whistleblower.org) can answer questions or provide more focused research. GAP summer associates Shanna Devine and Natalie Gonzales, who can be reached at ext. 127 or the same email address, are available for liaison, introductory briefings, and requests for more research.  

 

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James J. Murtagh, Jr. is a doctor of pulmonary, critical care and sleep medicine, and the Medical Director of several sleep laboratories in Southern Ohio. Dr. Murtagh extensively writes on medical ethics. Dr. Murtagh is the founder of a new (more...)
 
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