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Monthly Archives: November 2006

A Case that Shook Medicine

The father of an 18-year-old woman who died within 24 hours of an ER admission in October 1984 set in motion a series of reforms that would improve modern medical education. Work hour limitations were enforced by the Accreditation Council on Graduate Medical Education after the father learned his daughter was treated by medical residents working extremely long hours with little supervision. By pursuing his case against the hospital, he also “helped set the stage for the medical-errors movement that began in the 1990s.”

Lawyer and journalist Sidney Zion set in motion a number of events to avenge the death of his dauhgter Libby Zion. It took 10 years for his daughter’s case to go to trial, but he was persistent. By championing the cause of patients and families who believed they had been harmed by the medical profession, Zion helped set the stage for the medical-errors movement that began in the 1990s. To aggrieved patients and their families, Zion became a sort of folk hero.

The Washington Post ran a story on the case and Sidney Zion’s efforts on November 28, 2006. Click here to read the complete story.

This story highlights the need for a vibrant system of justice in this country. For years, trial lawyers have used litigation and the threat of litigation to help American citizens. Holding those who cause harm accountable is the bedrock of our system.

Big dig design faulted in crash

Federal inspectors have found that a Big Dig tunnel ceiling that collapsed in July and killed a motorist was designed with a smaller margin of safety than other tunnel ceilings in America, according to a report obtained by the Boston Globe.

The Interstate 90 connector tunnel’s drop ceiling panels were held in place by steel hangers suspended from bolts that were glued into the tunnel ceiling with epoxy. But there were no beams attaching the ceiling to the walls, and there were half as many bolts used as called for in the original design.

“No redundancy was built into the ceiling in the event the hangers failed,” according to a preliminary report by the National Transportation Safety Board obtained by the Globe.

“The NTSB has researched other tunnels throughout the country and has found that significant redundancy is built into the ceiling design” so that the ceilings would not collapse when bolts fall out, the report said. The Globe account appeared in Wednesday’s editions.

The report does not reach conclusions about the cause of the ceiling collapse because the investigation is not finished. The July 10 accident has resulted in a civil lawsuit and other federal and state criminal investigations of the $14.6 billion highway project.