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Story on malpractice wasn't front page material

Jan. 5, 2012 at 8:03 p.m.
Updated Jan. 4, 2012 at 7:05 p.m.


Editor, the Advocate:

The following is my independent, personal opinion.

Advocate reporter Gheni Platenburg has written a front page article about a Victoria physician being sued. Platenburg's sources of medical information seem to be Internet websites such as the March of Dimes.

The filing of a medical malpractice suit is not front page news. This occurs dozens and, perhaps, hundreds of times daily in the United States.

Many of these suits are dropped or dismissed as frivolous, or settled out of court. Of the med-mal cases which ultimately are decided by a jury, the physician is found not guilty of negligence approximately 70 percent of the time. I wonder if Anna Flores is aware of these general facts.

There is no mention in Platenburg's story of fetal decelerations, blood sugar levels, HbA1C levels, cardiac status, blood pressure readings, reproductive history, or other factors which would influence Dr. Tanya Seiler's decision to do a caesarean section. There is certainly no mention of the inherent risk of general anesthesia in an obese diabetic women.

Furthermore, there is absolutely no mention of what injury the child allegedly suffered, and what has occurred in the intervening two years of the child's life. Shoulder dystocia is a condition or situation and not itself an injury. This is poor journalism.

So why should the Advocate single out Dr. Tanya Seiler? Platenburg would have to search long and hard to find a physician in Victoria who has never been at least named in a med-mal proceeding regardless of its outcome. Dr. Tanya Seiler is a hard-working, responsible and competent obstetrician who could treat my family anytime. The plaintiff's attorney will tell you, even if off the record, that it really doesn't matter if Dr. Seiler is a good or bad doctor. The important issue is whether money can be made from Flores' misfortune (my apologies to those honest and honorable attorneys in our community).

By giving the plaintiff's name in her article, Platenburg has put Anna Flores on the medical radar as a person who is perhaps likely to sue physicians in the future. Where does Flores plan to get her Ob/Gyn care in the future? Doubtful it will be at Victoria Women's Clinic.

Platenburg and her supervisors have chosen to throw a competent physician under the bus.

John W. Vaughan, M.D., Victoria

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