Medical Tuesday Blog
9. Physician/Patient Bookshelf: Denied
By Jeffrey Nordella, MD
Prologue: March18, 2013
The day is crisp, the sky an uninterrupted blue against the scrub brush hills from Malibu Beach, Santa Rosa Valley is a throwback to a sleepier time in California history. Dotted with pumpkin farms, ranches, and gated custom homes, it’s the kind of place you go to raise a family and escape from the artifice of Los Angeles with its aspiring movie stars, gridlock traffic, and social climbers.
Dressed in a red flannel shirt, blue jeans, and a weathered ball cap pulled down low to shade his eyes, Jeff climbs on his beat-up tractor happy to find sanctuary in the low rumble of the engine as he tills the hard clay of his twelve-acre ranch. Soon he’ll plant rye grass, the perfect carpet for high heels and Sunday best boots of the 350 guests who will attend his daughter’s upcoming Western-themed wedding. . .
Watching the seed spill into the fertile soil, the metaphors of rebirth and new beginnings aren’t lost on Jeff. He realizes for better or for worse, a new chapter of life is about to begin. He will either prevail or be crushed. There will be no middle ground. Either way, it’s difficult to believe it is all coming to an end. It had been ten years, after all. Ten years since he’d spat in the eye of the giant. Ten years since he’d sunk his teeth into the hand that had fed him. Ten years since he’d embarked on what many considered a fool’s errand at best, professional suicide or worst.
It had been ten years since he’d opened his lawsuit against the insurance giant, Blue Cross.
It wasn’t like suing City Hall. It was like suing God. Or maybe more accurately, the devil. The journey has nearly destroyed him, his business, and his family. But like everything else in his life, he realizes he’s still standing. . .
When his phone rings, he cuts the engine and presses the phone to his ear. . .
“Jeff!” It was Theresa Barta, his attorney who’d stood by him since the beginning. Her voice is barely above a whisper, yet rings with a sense of urgency.
As he jogs toward the house, he hears her say, “I’ll step outside . . .” he thinks she must be in the court room and moving out into the hallway when he hears her say, “The jury came back . . . “
This is it. This is what it all comes down to . . . he silently reminds himself that regardless of the outcome, this is the end of the road. Win or lost he has to move on with his life.
This is what we hear every year at the annual meeting of the American Association of Physicians and Surgeons. Dr. Nordella was at our last meeting telling his story—a story we hear repeatedly of the physician’s professional life destroyed by the Health-Insurance—Hospital—Medical Board—Medical Association Complex.
This story is more sordid than the average one we read about from Robin Cook, MD, Michael Crichton, MD, or Tess Gerritsen, MD and the abusive PEER REVIEW which ends many a physician’s career. Although the fiction writers detail injuries and murders from various members of the Medical-Hospital-Insurance Complex, Dr. Nordella’s wife, Carole Leigh Nordella, was murdered just prior to the final hearing. The hit-man gained entry into the kitchen of his home while Dr. Nordella was away and the pool service-man was working. After he shot Mrs. Nordella in her kitchen and injured the son, he made his escape in the pool service man’s truck. The truck was identified by Dr. Nordella and while he gave chase, other officers joined in. He had a good look at the hit-man, told his daughter to get down since he saw a gun.
Dr. Nordella then left the chase to the police and rush to his home. His unconscious wife was lying in blood. She was taken by helicopter to the hospital, taken to surgery and then the ICU. Jeff was there as he watched the blood pressure drop, despite the full unsuccessful resuscitation as she died.
When he returned home, he turned on the TV as the news showed a replay of the hit-man entering a Walmart store, shooting at the ceiling, terrorizing all the customers as he dashed to the gun shop. When he saw the store was surrounded by police, he shot himself.
They were never able to determine who hired him.
For those who are not aware of abusive peer review against doctors, this book is informative of the great hostilities that doctors work under. Their peers, who control the hospital staff, are frequently their worse enemies as they lose their medical license and are never seen or heard from again.
Lawyers who defend physicians, always warn us in our medical conferences.
These attorneys who specialize in defending physicians keep warning us not to respond personally to any complaints. They are not your friends.
This is rather expensive but losing and going to the tomb is far worse.
Having an attorney answer every complaint will cost 8 to 12 hours.
I won and kept my medical license.
But I no longer have a pension or retirement account, and still working 50 hours per week in the 9th decade of my life.
I’m thankful that my adversary was not successful in his attempted professional homicide.
This book review is found at http://www.medicaltuesday.net/book-reviews/
Every year at the annual meeting of the AAPS we listen to several cases. But in our daily lives when we are approached for a major contribution, it is embarrassing to observe the look on their face when we tell them we can’t even write them a $100 check. This happened when an executive from my church drove from Los Angeles to Sacramento and spent hours telling me about all the important programs we are doing and I had to state that I could not even write him a $100 check. The expression on his face is something I hope I will never experience again. I was able to cut off another trip from the East coast last week, not to make the 3500-mile trip to explain the foundation’s program. Neither he nor I would benefit from his trip.
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