• Dennis Quaid: Actor, father, documentary film maker, MICRA fighter Friday, April 16, 2010

    Every since he broke into the Hollywood big time with “Breaking Away,” actor Dennis Quaid has been one to do it his own way. Now the father of twins is making his mark by taking on MICRA, California’s 35-year-old law that has capped non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases to $250,000.

    Quaid has produced a documentary film springing from his own experiences with medicine gone wrong: The nearly fatal overdose of medication administered to his newborn twins in 2007.

    In a recent interview with the Associated Press following a speech to the National Press Club in Washington, Quaid said, “There were 41 hours where their lives were in the balance.” He said it was the most frightening day of his life and left him and his wife, Kimberly, in “shock, anger and confusion.”

    In the documentary, “Chasing Zero: Winning the War on Healthcare Harm,” slated to run April 24 on Discovery Channel, Quaid details the toil of medical mistakes on society. He appeared this past week at the National Press Club in Washington to talk about the nation’s medical malpractice epidemic, and in a TV interview talked about how the 98,000 preventable deaths due to medical error each year in America make such mistakes the third leading killer in the nation.

    Watch CBS News Videos Online

    Quaid, 56, is no stranger to taking a stand. CBC 60 Minutes has done a piece on the twins’ medical travails. In 2008, just months after his twins — Thomas and Zoe — recovered from an overdose of the blood thinner heparin, Quaid spoke to Congress about his concerns with mounting medical malpractice and with the limits on legal challenges established in California and other states. In written testimony Quaid said:

    I have also learned a lot about the legal system – and it was surprising, I have to tell you. Like many Americans, I believed that a big problem in our country was frivolous lawsuits. But now I know that the courts are often the only path to justice for families that are harmed by the pharmaceutical industry and medical errors. Yet the law is stacked against ordinary people.  For instance, in my home state of California, a 1975 law caps compensation to malpractice victims. The cap has never been raised for inflation. The practical effect is that people without the wealth to pay legal fees up front are unable to get their cases before a judge or jury.

    Now we face something with potential to be even more sweeping and even more unjust: federal preemption. The Supreme Court is about to decide whether to bar most lawsuits over drugs and their labeling, as long as the drug was approved for marketing by the FDA. After many years of rejecting arguments that FDA actions should preempt lawsuits involving injuries from products regulated by the FDA, White House appointees at the FDA reversed that position in 2002, and now argue that FDA approval immunizes the manufacturers of dangerous products from liability for the deaths and injuries they cause.

    We sued Baxter Healthcare Corporation in November 2007. Baxter has filed a motion to dismiss the case, relying on the same preemption argument that the drug industry and the FDA has made before the Supreme Court – that when the FDA allowed its Heparin drug onto the market, it gave Baxter the government’s seal of approval – a “get out of jail free” card that denies us the right to hold the company accountable. (Of course, Baxter never mentions the FDA regulations that encourage and sometimes require manufacturers to fix their drug labels immediately, without getting the FDA’s permission first.) So, says Baxter, our suit may not be heard by a judge or jury.

    It is hard for me to imagine that this is what Congress intended. You tell me, Mr. Chairman: When it passed the Food, Drug, and Cosmetic Act in 1938, did Congress intend to give appointed bureaucrats at the FDA the right to protect a drug company from liability, even when the company cuts corners and jeopardizes our safety? A federal ban on lawsuits against drug companies would not just deny victims compensation for the harm they experience. It would also relieve drug companies of their responsibility to make products as safe as possible, and especially to correct drug problems when they are most often discovered – years after their drugs are on the market.

    Permitting bureaucrats who are under pressure from their bosses and the drug companies themselves to yank our access to the courts is incomprehensible. We have all heard about understaffing and backlogs at the FDA, and about drug-safety scrutiny that is patchy at best. If the Supreme Court rules in favor of the drug companies, it will eliminate one of the most effective deterrents to letting the bottom line win out over public health and safety.

    We can hope that the Supreme Court will not put more barriers in front of patients who are harmed by drug companies. But if the Court goes along with the FDA and rules for the drug companies, I respectfully ask this Congress to pass corrective legislation on an emergency basis, just as it should do immediately to correct the recent Supreme Court decision immunizing the makers of defective and mislabled medical devices. We Americans need some balance on the scales of justice in our country.

    –Eric Bailey

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5 Responses to “Dennis Quaid: Actor, father, documentary film maker, MICRA fighter”

  1. Michelle Massey says:

    First I want to tell you that I am so sorry. I lost my 7 yearold back in 2003 and we made somehead way in trying to bring the MICRA law down. In my speech as Consumer Advocate of the Year aka The Erin Brochovich award in 2005 I talk about how we need to inform the public. Today I am so sorry to see more and more children dying. My hear aches for you night and day and the death of my little girl nearly killed me and it destroyed my family. No justice!
    The doctor that ws responsiblle for my daughter’s death had 2 previous malpractice cases before my Jessie. I want to know why I could not find out the past of that doctor?
    It seems to me that only someone well know can work wiith me on this topic that maybe we can take to whole thing out and start from scratch?
    Only certain people can help to get the word out on MICRA who silences crying out vicitms for some Justice and accountability. This should be by a case by case matter.
    may be look at my website http://www.shellybeenz.com. And you decide what the right thing we could do by thinking outside the box.
    God Bless
    Michelle and Jessie angel

  2. Michelle Massey says:

    I would also like to point out that the number 98,000 people every year has been used now for the past 15 years!!! That number is incorrect and very old!! I won Consumer Advocate of the Year in 2005 and I was very involved with trying to defeat MICRA and at that time I recieved facts that were updated to that point in time from CDC that the number has now risen to
    195,000 people are affected by some kind of medical healthcare. That number is now 7 years old!! It is the equivalent of 2 jumbo jets crashing and killing everyone on board for a year. I hope some people out there might want to correct that outdated 98,000 deaths a year. I guess it is a bit of a pet pieve of mine, because in most of my research that 98,000 a year comes up all the time and it is outdated like MICRA!!

  3. Michelle Massey says:

    Dear Dennis and Mommy

    I would love to be able to talk to you about this matter for I have been fighting MICRA since 2004 because of my 7 year-old daughters death. Jessie geyer/micra in a search. And my newest website is at http://www.Like Shattered Glass..or http://www.shellybeenz.com. You will find out so much on a very personal level.

    Would you be up to speaking with me in private?
    very sincerely
    Michelle Massey….and Jessie angel


    Dennis: My vibrant, beautiful, loving daughter was TAKEN from us by a doctor. Just one doctor visit changed all our lives and all those TARA’s life was detained to touch. You can take a look at her website taraderogatis.com and derogatisstudios.com both working before her death.

    We have a court date of October 10, 2012 in Los Angles Superior Court. Any support you can give is appreciated.

    Tara’s MOM,

    Linda DeRogatis

  5. StrongWoman says:

    On November 05, 2012, I proposed to Nancy Pelosi and my representatives to pass a Patient Protection Bill, and I asked for investigation into what happened after I was injured during a blood draw that caused permanent disability within weeks as the result of Venipuncture Nerve Damage. The hospital tried to get rid of me, aided by the Medi-cal provider, and the city. I am an attorney but worked more of my career as a filmmaker. I documented my experience at http://www.lettersofcourage.com while it was happening because it was beyond anything I had ever understood and the shock, and the need to fight over and over the actions of these organizations who even to this day refuse medical access. I have caught them lying, falsifying state and federal documentation. I can not disappear because they do not want evidence of their harm. I hope that our representatives will stop supporting these abusers when they harm patients, and to allow them the freedom to prevent access, and then, instead of treating me, litigate on top of the pain, suffering and disability. I want to do what it takes to ensure this abuse never occurs again. My eyes are open.

    My heart breaks to hear the stories of the mothers here, and it firms my resolve to demand a Patient Protection Bill be passed and when the unfortunate happens, an injury, the Patient must

    1) Immediately have a Neutral 3rd party step in to ensure integrity of the treatment, service, access, file notes.

    Its simply obscene and absurd that patients – like me who the injury sparked one of the most painful conditions known to man or woman – must be forced to defend themselves at a time when they actually need protecting.

    I was stunned at the extent to which this hospital controlled my health care access, my access to services guaranteed under my insurance, and prevented access to city and state services, all in service of protecting itself.

    Furthermore, the state investigation – taking into account only the pain doctor who instead of treating me asked if I filed a lawsuit and one other doctor who said I was after drugs – never mind that I didn’t take pain killers.

    I pray that together, the people of this country can do something because what has happened is beyond the pale, abusive beyond measure, and must be stopped.

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