By Eric Rosario
The taxpayers of Guam, and not the hospital employees who were involved, are footing the bill for the wrongful death of Asher Dean Lubofsky.
Guam Memorial Hospital last week settled with David Lubofsky a claim he brought in the October 31, 2018 wrongful death of his son, Asher Dean.
The settlement, a de facto admission by GMH of the reckless and negligent care the five year old boy received that led to his death, comes on the heels of an effort by the speaker of the Guam Legislature to reform Guam's Medical Malpractice Mandatory Arbitration Act, or MMMA Act. The settlement also follows a report by the U.S. Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services that was critical of the nurses and doctors assigned to Asher Dean's care between October 30 and October 31, 2018.
Asher Dean's death began a clarion call and community movement to change Guam's 30-year-old MMMA Act after David Lubofsky spoke with other grieving parents whose loved ones perished from alleged medical malpractice. The law makes it nearly impossible for a poor or middle-class resident to hold negligent doctors accountable for malpractice, because it requires costly arbitration at the expense of the patients or loved ones bringing the claim.
Doctors who, thus far, have testified against Speaker Therese Terlaje's Bill No. 112 have avoided discussing Bill No. 112's roots - Asher Dean's death - and have instead focused on their opposition to making the arbitration process optional, when a claim is brought.
Ms. Terlaje's bill, among other changes, will allow for a magistrate judge to weigh evidence and screen out frivolous claims, rather than forcing poorer residents to pay for an arbitration panel.
Most of the doctors's testimonies reveal their agreement that poor and middle class Guamanians should have equal access to the justice system, when legitimate claims arise. They disagree with the idea of allowing a magistrate judge to conduct the screening.
Reacting to the settlement, Mr. Lubofsky wrote:
My son Asher died at GMH on October 31, 2018. A wrongful death settlement with GMH for the max allowed by law was agreed upon. Wrongful death by definition, means reckless or negligence factors contributed to the death of my son. In other words, he died as a result of medical negligence.
That last night, that nightmare, I asked over and over where are the doctors, where is the ICU that he needs, why isn't he Intubated? I spent that night holding my son and 3 times he told nurses that he loves his daddy. I can't forget those words. I can't forget Asher. I can't forget the hell that we are in, all of our family. We are totally destroyed.
You know what else I can't and won't forget is how Dr. Shieh and his colleagues were "high fiving" each other during the July 7th hearing outside when a colleague said something they liked during the Bill 112-36 public hearing like these fools were at a football game. We are talking about our lives being ruined, our dead kids, and family members and it's a joke to them. If that doesn't highlight the arrogance of their apathy I just don't know what will.
Asher's so-called doctors, public record, Dr. Garrido and Dr. Sarmiento chose not to upgrade Asher's care level even though he was very sick with Temps reaching 106. Then again, they chose not to see him at all leaving him in his pediatric bed suffering and in pain slowly dying in my arms with no doctors all night even though nurses were calling.
These doctors are covered in private practice by the MMMAA DEATH law that protects them. The lack of accountability has led to apathy by Guam doctors and the same apathy killed my son when these fools decided to stay in bed and not go into GMH, etc. Apathy is a big reason to repeal the MMMAA or to support Bill 112-36. It's like kids that are not accountable, they think they can do whatever they want, apathy reigns, just like those at the hearing outside who cheered for colleagues as we cried for our lost loved ones.
These two doctors were quick to sign the Pediatrician petition opposing Bill 112-36. Isn't it obvious why? They got the tax payers to bail them out at GMH as they walked away again not accountable for their substandard negligent medical care. Of course they want to keep Arbitration to protect themselves like the other white coats when the next Asher shows up.
Doctors who injure or kill our loved ones negligently should be prosecuted not hide behind the MMMAA. I think Bill 112-36 is too kind to be honest but a compromise. The taxpayers shouldn't be responsible either when apathy impacts GMH medical care.
Asher died from medical apathy a product of lack of accountability leading to medical negligence Guam doctors seem to think that is okay as long as they are not impacted financially. Medical negligence manslaughter is not okay.
Shame on them.