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October 21, 2009  

Injured Medical Malpractice Survivors Travel to Washington, D.C., to Protect Patients' Rights

Victims Thank Lawmakers Who Oppose Limiting The Legal Rights of Medical Malpractice Victims

Washington, D.C. - Families from nine states, including many who have been catastrophically injured due to medical malpractice, traveled to Washington, D.C. today to ask Congress to ensure that the much-needed health care bill does not strip injured patients of their legal rights. The malpractice survivors also thanked lawmakers who stood with them at a news conference today, including U.S. House Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-MI) and Representative Bruce Braley (D-IA).

The victims' visit to Washington, hosted by eight national consumer groups, comes at a crucial time as the United States Congress and the White House work to draft a final heath care reform bill. Some in Congress have been pressing to limit the legal rights of patients injured by grossly negligent medical care.

"We want to thank Chairman Conyers and Representative Braley for their support of families around the country who have been hurt by medical neglience," said Lisa Gourley of Nebraska, whose son Colin was brain-damaged at birth as a result of a doctor's negligence. "I hope the entire U.S. Congress takes their lead by focusing their attention on preventing these tragedies from happening and protecting the legal rights of all Americans."

"We must not solve the nation's health care problems on the backs of injured patients and their loved ones. We hope Members of Congress will join Chairman Conyers and Representative Braley and reflect on the tragic stories of these American families who traveled great distances in rejecting any limits on their legal rights," said Joanne Doroshow, Executive Director of the Center for Justice & Democracy. "There are so many more pressing health care issues that must be addressed, and patient safety is a major one. The last thing we want to do is take away victims' rights."

"Preventable medical errors have reached epidemic rates and are one of the nation's most urgent safety problems," said David Arkush, director of Public Citizen's Congress Watch division. "Congress should work on curing this epidemic, not compounding the damage by shielding bad doctors and limiting the rights of victims."

"Medical malpractice makes up a tiny portion of health care costs but is a big problem for its victims - the 98,000 Americans who die each year from medical errors as well as their family members and loved ones," said Jeff Blum, USAction executive director. "Quality, affordable health care reform will reduce medical errors, bring down costs and rein in the insurance industry's abuses. That's a promise we all can live with."

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