By David Lubofsky
When we talk about the quality of medical care on Guam, let me first say, we have some great doctors here, but the self-serving words that stand out the most that I recall were during a public hearing on the Medical Malpractice Arbitration Act in October, 2019 when Guam Board of Medical Examiners Chair, Nathaniel Berg, said medical services are getting “better, better, better” on Guam and that Air Traffic Controllers will come to Guam now. (yes, he said that). I guess no one informed him, as the head of the medical Board in charge of protecting the people of Guam, that the Guam Memorial Hospital (GMH) just 5 months earlier had an investigation by the Medicare and Medicaid Services Investigation division. GMH nearly lost its ability to take these patients and is still under the watchful eyes of the feds due to horrific medical treatment at the hospital of 12 patients, one of which was Asher Dean, my son.
The results of the investigation for the 12 patients confirms island wide systematic medical negligence. Even though the investigation only covered GMH, many of these medical professionals are the same people who work in the community.
The Systemic Medical Negligence on the island is legalized thru policies and laws like the Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act for medical professionals outside of the hospital and the Government Claims Act for those working at the GMH. Both laws foster a lack of accountability, as medical professionals are not held personally responsible if they make tragic negligent mistakes thru medical negligence and kill our loved ones or injure them. This leads to apathy which is a basic psychological tenet when there is a lack of accountability. The legislatures, present and past, have allowed this to continue with a host of reasons, but none seem to have improved medical care looking at the GMH report or the state of medical services on the island.
In my opinion, the lack of accountability and resulting apathy is a large reason for a failing medical system and investigative reports as you see by Medicare/Medicaid with threats to end funding for our most needy. It’s not all “BETTER, BETTER, BETTER” as Nathaniel Berg would like us to arrogantly believe if you are poor or disadvantaged and need these federal funds at GMH or if you just want to survive medical care on Guam.
Systemic medical negligence usually applies to developing countries and at-risk medical systems, never expected at a place like Guam, but here we are. It is not just a long list of medical errors and system failures like we saw at GMH or what we experienced at SDA or what you have seen at other medical facilities on Guam, but is more a form of inherent neglect. Contributing factors, according to research on this, include a lack of social and political will to change laws. This is what we have on Guam with the Mandatory Malpractice Arbitration Act and the Government Claims Act at GMH, a lack of will to change laws and a legalization of systemic medical negligence by our elected leaders.
When we have family members die due to lack of care with basic things at GMH such as lack of nurse supervision or not utilizing readily available resources or medical doctors never entering rooms of dying patients, we must agree the system is seriously broken. The GMH investigation report included 12 of our loved ones that went thru a nightmare with terrible and deadly results by some of the same medical people we see also outside of GMH in private clinics.
If you want to improve medical care on Guam, hard changes must be made including making medical negligence accountable. Our senators need to finally step up to make changes of the laws, instead of taking donations from the Medical Industry or kowtowing to medical friends or relatives. One of our senators, Jose “Pedo” Terlaje, during a public hearing, implied medical negligence is the way of our Creator. That statement alone sums up the problems that we have on Guam and lack of leadership to make changes and how our island leaders and maybe the rest of us have been forced to accept Medical Negligence as a way of life on Guam.
Keep one thing in mind, no doctor or other medical professionals whether at GMH, or SDA, or any clinic or hospital anywhere on Guam can be held responsible for hurting or killing our children, loved ones, or friends under current laws unless you are very rich. Guam is the only place in the country that has this draconian system of laws that leads to systemic medical negligence and the death of our loved ones. This is the system that killed my son and has killed many other children and loved ones.
With severe tragic medical mistakes, they just walk away with no peer reviews, no oversight, no changes, nothing. You can fix the roof, buy new machines, even a new hospital, but things will not change to save our lives when people are apathetic and lack responsibility for their actions.
We are bogged down with Covid now and the medical professionals are working very very hard, but the question begs to be answered, how many Covid patients have died on Guam from Medical Negligence, get swabbed, then called Covid and again adios responsibility?
Mr. Lubofsky is a resident of Tamuning. To publish your opinions on Kandit News, send them to [email protected]