Medical Malpractice - The Tragic Human Price Tag of "Tort Reform"

Lisa Gourley has had her share of hardships. Her son Colin was born with severe brain damage due to a doctor's negligence. But because Nebraska has a Draconian "cap" on compensation for all injured patients (i.e., "tort reform"), her family never received the compensation needed to take care of Colin. She bravely challenged the constitutionality of this law, taking her case all the way to the Nebraska Supreme Court. Unfortunately, in 2003 the Court sided against her and upheld this cap.

Now, she has to read stories like this one, that omits entirely any mention of the price so-called "tort reform" has on actual patients, hundreds of thousands of whom are injured by medical malpractice each year -- many involving catastrophically-injured children like Colin.

Lisa wrote to the reporter and with her permission, I'm re-posting her letter -- raw, unedited, brutally honest and straight from the heart.


Interesting enough there was not one interview of a victim in your article.... I sure hope that you or nobody in your family ever is faced with the horrible ramifications of medical malpractice because at the rate this country is headed there will be little to NO remedy for the injured person. I wish you would have at least taken the time to talk to a person who was actually affected by medical malpractice.

My son suffered a catastrophic brain injury due to a doctor's negligence. Colin struggles every day with walking, talking and cognitive thinking. He will never be able to work a job to provide an income for himself. He will never live the life his identical twin brother has because of this negligence. The doctor was found negligent and Colin was compensated $1.25 million dollars to pay for his projected medical expenses of $12.4 million, lost wages and the pain and suffering he endures everyday of his life. That is hardly fair.

After my husband lost his job, two years ago and we lost our health care coverage because we couldn't afford $1,700 a month for the cobra insurance, Colin now relies on Medicaid and the Nebraska Medically Handicap Children's program to pay for ALL of his care. Yes, the TAXPAYERS and our family is paying for the majority of this negligence not the doctor and insurance company. Somehow this just isn't fair....

In 1999, when the doctor was found negligent the excess liability fund had $63 million dollars, it had paid out $4 million in claims and had earned $10 million dollars in interest. They could have easily paid the claim to our son and not left the financial burden on our family and the taxpayers but because of the horrible law here in Nebraska, the medical community and insurance companies are getting financial bailout. This is hardly the ideal system that should be looked at for the rest -of the country.

I would be happy to talk with you further and give you insight from a victim's point of view.

Lisa Gourley
Omaha, NE