USA: Action Alert – Ban Gag Clauses

Posted on July 9, 2011


I got a heads up this afternoon from actress and patient advocate Veronica James about a very important petition that deserves your attention. It involves gag orders, which is a hot button topic with me. You don’t want to hear me rant about non-disclosure agreements on a pretty Saturday so I’ll just say they are wrong, immoral, and cruel to victims and their families and leave it at that. I am pasting in the text of this petition below, so  you can read it before you click the link to sign. Do sign now. Don’t put it off. I know where you live.

Adverse medical events and medical errors rob patients & families of quality of life and often of life itself.  The facilities//doctors then in settlements attempt to “compensate” victims for damages suffered.  No amount of monetary compensation can ever truly recover the extreme and needless damages suffered thru these adverse medical events.  The facilities/doctors then routinely imposes gag orders demanding silence from the victims.  Malpractice lawyers and defendants reason this by saying that “compensation is in exchange for silence.”  The facility robbed the patients & families, so the offending facilities have no right to any such “exchange.” 
This is doubly punishing the victims, and further robbing the victims of needed healing in the form of speaking out, and reporting the events as required by LAW.  This unfair draconian practice of imposing gag orders is illegal, unethical, unconstitutional, and must STOP!!!  The only “exchange” that should take place is the victims’ right of fair and equitable compensation for losses suffered!   Victims do not owe the offenders anything!
Gag clauses help and protect no one but the wrong-doers.  The interests of business, especially harmful and dangerous business, must never be placed above the interests of the people, namely the PATIENTS it serves.  Gag clauses are nothing but cowardly acts by those who are clearly afraid of the truth, and we must find alternatives within the civil justice system, or these cowards will continue to literally get away with murder, so long as the legal system plays along in the name of $. No payment for recovery of damages exempts any facility from accountability under the law.  Victims should not be forced to choose between lawfully reporting events and recovering losses.
Many states have implemented laws such as the NJ HEAL Law and the NJ Patient Safety Act, which require hospitals to publish adverse medical events, to create needed transparency for patient safety, and to protect the interests of the public at large.  These laws mandate full disclosure and publication of medical errors and HAI’s.  Both CMS and Joint Commission Standards mandate full disclosure and communication of such errors.  The AMA Code of Ethics also mandates honest disclosure.  Despite these laws, the wrong-doers continue to manipulate and bully victims by attempting to “buy” their way out of needed justice, and pretend that these horrific events never happened.  No business, no matter how big, is above the law.
We must ban these unfair gag clauses nationally, and find alternatives within the legal system to place heightened burden of proof of actual damages caused by a breach of confidentiality.
“Be the change you wish to see in the world.”
So I signed a petition to The United States Senate, which says:
“Ban unfair gag clauses in medical settlements to allow victims and families of medical error to report errors as required by law.”
Will you sign this petition? Click here: