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May 01, 2014

In Texas, hospitals don't care if a doctor murders people

When someone complains about malpractice or advocates for "tort reform," this is the end state. A world where no one can be sued for anything, even paralyzing you or killing your father after performing surgery drunk. Licensed to Kill | The Texas Observer
Morguloff’s surgery, a spinal fusion, didn’t go well. Dr. Randall Kirby, a prominent Dallas surgeon who assisted Duntsch in the surgery, compared Duntsch’s technique to that of a first-year medical student. Duntsch, he later wrote, didn’t seem to have any understanding of spinal anatomy. Morguloff says he woke up with agonizing pain in his left leg; Duntsch prescribed him painkillers and told him the pain would go away. Six months later, a doctor at Presbyterian Hospital of Dallas found that Duntsch had installed the spinal hardware wrong and left bone fragments in the nerves of Morguloff’s back, requiring another round of surgery to remove them. In March, Barry Morguloff—along with three other plaintiffs in related suits—sued the Baylor Health Care System in federal district court in Dallas. The lawyers representing Morguloff, Kenneth Fennell, Mary Efurd and Leroy Passmore are coordinating their cases, arguing that Duntsch was dangerous and Baylor should have stopped him from operating on them. Their stories have the trappings of farce: For example, when Duntsch operated on Passmore, a Collin County medical examiner, in December 2011, the surgery went so badly that the assisting surgeon grabbed Duntsch’s surgical instruments and tried to force him to stop, according to Passmore’s lawsuit. (He failed.) Morguloff’s complaint cites the case of another patient—one of Duntsch’s first at Baylor—who he left unattended in the recovery room while he went to Las Vegas. According to his attorneys, Morguloff will walk with a cane for the rest of his life. Passmore suffers from constant pain and, according to his suit, can’t “lift objects of any significant weight.” Efurd and Fennell allege in their lawsuits that they sustained severe nerve damage. The striking thing about Duntsch’s relationship with Baylor Plano is just how tolerant the hospital was of his behavior—according to the lawsuits, he literally had to kill someone to get fired. A month after Morguloff woke up in agony, Duntsch operated on Jerry Summers, his best friend and former roommate. According to Morguloff’s lawsuit, Summers woke up from surgery a quadriplegic; he told Baylor’s ICU staff that Duntsch had been up using drugs all night. Baylor suspended Duntsch for a month. In his first surgery after his suspension lifted, he nicked the vertebral artery of Kellie Martin, a 55-year-old Garland woman. She bled to death in the ICU. . . .

March 18, 2014

A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet

The best theory: an onboard electrical fire and a captain aiming for the nearest, safest runway. A Startlingly Simple Theory About the Missing Malaysia Airlines Jet | Autopia | Wired.com
For me, the loss of transponders and communications makes perfect sense in a fire. And there most likely was an electrical fire. In the case of a fire, the first response is to pull the main busses and restore circuits one by one until you have isolated the bad one. If they pulled the busses, the plane would go silent. It probably was a serious event and the flight crew was occupied with controlling the plane and trying to fight the fire. Aviate, navigate, and lastly, communicate is the mantra in such situations. There are two types of fires. An electrical fire might not be as fast and furious, and there may or may not be incapacitating smoke. However there is the possibility, given the timeline, that there was an overheat on one of the front landing gear tires, it blew on takeoff and started slowly burning. Yes, this happens with underinflated tires. Remember: Heavy plane, hot night, sea level, long-run takeoff. There was a well known accident in Nigeria of a DC8 that had a landing gear fire on takeoff. Once going, a tire fire would produce horrific, incapacitating smoke. Yes, pilots have access to oxygen masks, but this is a no-no with fire. Most have access to a smoke hood with a filter, but this will last only a few minutes depending on the smoke level. (I used to carry one in my flight bag, and I still carry one in my briefcase when I fly.) What I think happened is the flight crew was overcome by smoke and the plane continued on the heading, probably on George (autopilot), until it ran out of fuel or the fire destroyed the control surfaces and it crashed. You will find it along that route–looking elsewhere is pointless.