The Center for Justice and Democracy

Consumer Groups Assail New York State Health Dept.


Once again, New York State state health officials have demonstrated remarkable bias by denying consumer groups a seat at the table and then endorsing anti-patient recommendations of the New York State Council on Graduate Medical Education (COGME), according to CURE-NY, a coalition of New York State consumer and patient groups. While supporting effective recommendations to provide opportunities for doctors to practice in underserved areas, the groups called on the state Department of Health (DOH) to stop recommending proposals that are anti-patient, anti-consumer and unsafe, and start giving consumer and patient groups the chance to provide meaningful input.

According to a March 25 DOH press release, at its direction, “COGME established five working groups, consulted with a diverse group of health care experts and deliberated as a full Council to develop … proposals to improve New York's Graduate Medical Education system.” According to CURE-NY, consumer groups were completely left out of this process. For reasons that are unclear, COGME has made recommendations that have nothing to do with education, but rather, include support for “medical liability reforms,” which typically take away patients’ rights and weaken patient safety, and are pushed by state medical and insurance lobbies.

Art Levin, Director of the Center for Medical Consumers, said, “I cannot fathom the gratuitous inclusion of medical malpractice issues in COGME solutions. If anything, what they should have done is require meaningful safety training in all Graduate Medical Education programs in New York State.”

This development comes on the heels of a March 24 letter to Governor Paterson signed by a number of state consumer and patients groups expressing “concerns about the openness and transparency of the medical malpractice review that Insurance Superintendent Eric Dinallo and Health Commissioner Richard Daines conducted during the previous administration.” The groups said they are “gravely concerned that any recommendations that are the product of such process will not serve the public interest.”

“The state health department needs to stop pursuing the agenda of the medical lobbies to weaken patients’ legal rights,” said John Guyette of CURE-NY. “By deliberately excluding public interest organizations from the COGME process, DOH is once again indicating a commitment to shield the health care industry from accountability, rather than ensuring patient safety.”


Consumers United for Reform and Education (CURE-NY) is a statewide coalition of consumer advocacy and patient safety organizations working to reduce the incidence of deaths and injury arising from medical error and to protect the rights of the victims of medical negligence. CURE-NY opposes use of state Medicaid money to subsidize medical malpractice; supports stronger disciplining of bad doctors to prevent the worst practitioners from preying upon innocent New Yorkers; and supports regulatory and legislative changes, such as rating doctors based on their safety track record, to protect consumers and reduce costs for good doctors.

CURE-NY Members:

ANIBIC (The Association for Neurological Impaired Brain Injured Children, Inc.)
Caribbean Women’s Health Care Association
Center for Justice & Democracy
Center for Medical Consumers
Citizen Action of New York
Disabled in Action
Empire State Consumer Association
Harlem Consumer Education Council
Headway of Western New York, Inc.
LIAAC (Long Island Association for AIDS Care, Inc.)
NYPIRG (New York Public Interest Research Group)
PULSE of New York
WESPAC Foundation (Westchester People's Action Coalition)

For Release
April 1, 2008

John Guyette

The Center for Justice and Democracy: Author Bio | Other Posts
Posted at 3:18 PM, Apr 01, 2008 in Health Care
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The state health department needs to stop pursuing the agenda of the medical lobbies to weaken patients’ legal rights,” said John Guyette of CURE-NY. We have more information on medical negligence and i think itwill help you....

Posted by: ronil | April 8, 2008 7:07 PM

I am a mom who lost her only child, due to a medical error. I hired an attorney and approximately one month before the statute of limitation, he called me into his office, in NY, three hours away from where I reside, to tell me he was not taking the case.

My daughter was born in 1983, with a heart condition known as VSD. She had surgery, in NY, when she was only 11 months old. The surgery was a big success, allowing my child to develope normally, participating in all physical activities and growing normally. When she was approximately 9 years old, she got a pacemaker, because her heart rate went too low, while she was sleeping. The pacemaker took care of the problem.

In 2002, through a cardiac catheterization, her cardiologist saw that Renee's aortic valve was leaking. She had a bicuspid aortic valve. Her cardiologist told her that if the valve became worse, she would need it REPLACED. About June, 2003, we were informed that the valve was leaking alot and would need to be replaced. The cardiologist sat down with my daughter and me and drew a diagram of the heart, showing us the different methods of replacing the valve, the Ross procedure, or a mechanical valve. She also had my daughter call the cardiothoracic surgeons office, to schedule a consult. visit. When my daughter called his office, she was told that they would have to call her back because the surgeon did not have time to meet with her. The office did call my daughter back and scheduled a consult. The consult was only a few days before the actual surgery date of August 22, 2003. I also have to tell you that my daughter was asymptomatic. When we were in the visit with her cardiologist of 20 years, my daughter asked her cardiologist if she could wait to have surgery in December, 03,during her winter college break, and the answer was: you do not have any heart damage, and if you were to wait, you could have irreversible damage.

My daughter went into NY to meet with the surgeon and the evening before the consult., his office canceled the visit, saying the surgeon did not have time to meet her. This is a surgeon that was very highly recommended by my childs' cardiologist of 20 years, so we trusted this surgeon, but my daughter did not get to meet him before scheduled surgery, which is very abnormal. If he did not come recommended by my childs' cardiologist of 20 years, this surgeon would not have touched my child.

My daughter went into the hospital, August 22, 2003, to have her aortic valve replaced. No other option was discussed and she signed the consent form to have the valve replaced. When the surgeon came out, he said that he repaired the valve instead of replacing it, however there was still a small leak. Her cardiologist was in the waiting area, when the surgeon informed us of this, and she seemed okay with this, so we felt okay too. Following surgery, the surgeon did not see my daughter once. He had all strange doctors following my daughter, post-surgery. She was in the hospital for about a week, and the day that one of the doctors released her, and we did not know this doctor, or any of the doctors post-surgery, the doctor sent my daughter home with a collapsed lung, and an irregular respiration rate of 28, when her respiration rate was normally about 16. I would have intervened with the decision of her going home, but being her age of 20, I was not allowed to. She was an adult.

My daughter did come home, three hours away from the NY hospital and she seemed to be okay. Three weeks later, she decided to go to her college, which was in Madison, NJ. She was vice-president of her sorority and had a boyfriend at college, with whom they had discussed marriage and a future. My daughter was very active and you would never have known she even had a heart condition. She was even a cheerleader in highschool, and took dance classes, etc. My daughter went back to college on a Monday, (I am not sure of the exact date, but I think it was September 11, 2003) That Friday, she went to her cardiologist for a post-op check-up, at the hospital down the street from her college. (her doctor was also associated with this NJ hospital, in addition to the NY hospital) That afternoon, while I was at work, I received a call from the cardiologist, telling me that my daughters' aortic valve was leaking alot, and that she should go into the NY hospital on Monday, for a special 3-D echo. Of course at this point, I was sickened, being that my daughter just had open-heart surgery to replace the valve, but the surgeon did not do that. I contacted my daughter at college, and told her that her cardiologist wanted her to get a 3-D echo, in NY. I did not tell her about the leaking valve, because I was three hours away, and I did not want to alarm her.

That Monday morning, around 2AM, we received a call from my daughter. She said she had flu symptoms and that her sorority sister was going to take her to the ER. We thought she was having flu symptoms, so that morning my husband went to North Jersey to meet my daughter, to take her into NY. I was getting ready for work, when I got a call from the NJ hospital,telling me that my daughter was being taken in for emergency aortic valve replacement. They said the sutures from the previous surgery tore out, and the valve burst. It turns out that while my daughter was going to the ER, with her sorority sister, she suffered a heart attack. Before they took my daughter in for emergency valve replacement, I did get to talk to her. She said, "Mommy, I am really pissed off that the first surgeon did not do this surgery" Then I told her I loved her and I was on my way to the hospital, three hours away. When I arrived, my daughter was in CCU. The surgery was done. My husband, my daughters' step-father, was there prior to the start of the surgery, and he got to talk to the cardiothoracic surgeon that was doing the emergency surgery. His words to my husband were that he wished he had the chance to do the first surgery.

Following emergence aortic valve replacement, my daughter was extremely tired, but we felt that after two surgeries in 3 weeks, this would be the case. Everyone thought that she was going to be okay. The fifth day post-surgery, the cardiologist told me that my daughters' systems were failing and that they were going to bring her back to the NY hospital. They said she would be on a respirator, to give her heart a rest, and if that did not work, she would need a heart transplant. THIS IS A CHILD WHO WAS ASYMPTOMATIC BEFORE THE FIRST SURGEON REPAIRED HER AORTIC VALVE!!!!!!!!!!!!! My daughter was fully alert at this point, talking to me, she even drank sips of water. The hospital made plans for her transfer, by ambulance, even though she should have been taken by helicoptor, because of the urgency. I told my daughter about needing to be put on the respirator, but I did not mention a transplant, because of her fragile state. I followed the ambulance right behind from NJ to the NY hospital. when I got there, they had already taken my daughter to CCU. I went to walk into the room and was stopped half way down the room. I was told that Renee was being worked on, so I figured they were hooking up machines, etc. Five minutes later, the doctor came out and told me that they did everything they could, but they lost her. I never found out what happened from the point of transfer, when my daughter was alert and talking, to the time in the NY CCU. I am and have been sick from this!!!!!!

I hired a NY attorney, and everytime I called him, he said he was working on the case. All the paperwork was signed by us, and supposedly he was working on the case. About one month prior to the statute of limitation, he called me and my husband into NY, three hours away, to tell us he was not taking the case. My daughter died due to a serious error, as I have since read the outcome of aortic valve replacement, and I have also spoken to doctors over the internet, stating that this is not the normal procedure. That the mitral valve can hold up well with repair, but not the aortic valve, because of the pressure of the blood, in this valve. My daughter went in to have aortic valve replacement, and she died because it was not done.

I did visit my childs' cardiologist to find out why the surgeon did this and got a million excuses. The first one was that the surgeon did not have to keep her on the respirator longer then he had to, which made no sense because the emergency valve replacement was shorter then the surgery that the first surgeon did. The next excuse was that the surgeon did not want my daughter to be on coumadin, because she was in childbearing years. So what is better, having your child on coumadin, when she had talked to her boyfriend about adopting children anyway, or having your child die? I would like to have my daughter, my only child on Coumadin, and alive.

I will never be a Grandmother, I will never see my daughter marry, and her friends and boyfriend have suffered over the years. This surgeon took my daughter away from us, due to his neglect!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!

Posted by: Karen Vanderhoof | May 4, 2008 5:31 PM