Search terms Anil Potti Duke University
There are two Fact Checker posts on Potti today; make sure you scroll down for the earlier.
✔ FC here.
As Dr Anil Potti starts to emerge from the seclusion of his Chapel Hill home... building his Facebook site, sending out tweets (http://friendfeed.com/anilpottimd).....
and apparently being behind the misleading regurgitation of a seven year old press release announcing a humanitarian award...
a Raleigh law firm that has taken on Duke University in the past says it is doing "research" on the Potti Mess.
The firm Henson Fuerst put out a PR release seeking information from Potti patients, which seems to FC like a thinly disguised effort to sign them up for lawsuits. Other Raleigh injury lawyers -- the Temple firm, and Brent and Adams -- have frequently used this tactic too, so expect them on the bandwagon.
Henson Fuerst represented plaintiffs in the Duke hydraulic fluid case in 2004, where two community hospitals run by Duke supposedly fully up to its standards (but not the principal hospital on West Campus) washed surgical instruments in dirty, used hydraulic fluid from an elevator instead of antiseptic detergent.
For months, surgeons complained of greasy and slippery instruments. In other words, Duke did not move to investigate and correct immediately -- and plaintiffs' lawyers loved it.
In many cases, instruments used in surgery are disposed after one use. But not so with clamps (to cut off the flow of blood), holders for the blades of scalpels, and other things.
Interestingly, in that case, Duke's point guard was Dr. Michael Cuffe, who then had the title vice president for medical affairs of Duke Health.org (he has since added Vice Dean of the Medical School). Very highly regarded in Duke's hierarchy, photogenic and well spoken, Cuffe came to Duke to earn his MD '91, stayed for all his additional medical training and burnished his credentials with an MBA '09. He has taken on a similar role in the Potti Mess, repeatedly making statements and giving interviews.
In the hydraulic case, Duke created an extensive website with information for patients; not so in the Potti Mess where patients and reporters alike have to dig for every scrap.
3500 people had surgery with the elevator fluid. 3500! It's never been clear how many patients were infected because their surgeries occurred with instruments not properly sterilized. And infected with what? Bacteria? Or even blood born diseases.
Nor do we know how residual chemicals that may have gotten directly into surgical wounds affected people.
We don't know either the total cost of malpractice claims that Duke paid -- this university doing everything under cover of darkness. People who settled with Duke were required to shut up, to sign a confidentially agreement. That's the course that Duke finally took with the Henson Fuerst clients.
The total was very substantial. Very.
Fellow Dukies, you haven't seen anything yet. The Potti Mess is a plaintiff's lawyers dream:
-- A defendant with lots of money and institutional arrogance.
-- Plaintiffs who will have great emotional impact on a jury.
-- Plaintiffs who signed contracts for clinical trials -- informed consent forms -- that were violated, so the basis for the lawsuits is not the slippery slope of malpractice alone.
-- Plaintiffs who suffered from malpractice. This is always tough to prove, and requires far more than just an unexpected or bad outcome from treatment. But if anyone is up to the challenge, Potti is!!
-- And most importantly to add on the bucks in any settlement, deliberate acts by Duke administrators -- like concealing the Baggerly e-mail that would have blown Potti out of the water far earlier.
FC has yet to pin down the number of potential plaintiffs. We know 107, 109 or 110 people were in the clinical trials -- experiments on human beings -- when they were abruptly ended. We believe in all 300 people participated, and many times that number went through invasive tests to see if they qualified.
These people got a rough ride when they came to Duke as patients. Wait until you see what happens to them when they return as plaintiffs, for Duke has a reputation of dragging out litigation and being very scrappy.
Fellow Dukies, this is bad.