Monday, January 9, 2012

Sports concussions, brain tumors, and legislation (Assemblymembers Hayashi and Halderman at work)

Assemblywoman Mary Hayashi has disclosed that she has a benign brain tumor that her attorney reportedly said "clouded her judgment," Mintz and Harmon, Bay Area News Group, 1/07/12. The report implies that the benign brain tumor contributed to the lapse that allowed her to walk out of Nieman-Marcus with unpaid merchandise and for which she has been convicted of a misdemeanor. We sadly acknowledge the Assemblywoman's plight and wish her well for the future.

In the meantime we've been asked how her situation compares to the situation endured by Sen. Ted Kennedy whose brain tumor was malignant and caused occasional convulsions. Kennedy's condition was inevitably fatal whereas Hayashi's is benign. The latest word from her attorney is that "it is being treated. It's no longer affecting her concentration or her judgment" (Daily Post, Jan. 7-8, 2012). Unfortunately, this statement implies that Hayashi's judgment was previously impaired during which time she authored two poorly drafted legislative bills that Gov. Brown has since signed into law (see our previous blogs).

Because the legal charge against Hayashi was reduced from a felony to a misdemeanor she will be able to keep her assembly seat and finish her term. She will pay a fine, do three years of probation, and stay at least 50 feet away from the Neiman-Marcus store. Her carelessness in creating legislation is documented well enough to repeat here.

Re AB 25 (Hayashi, re brain concussions):
This bill is now law thanks to Gov. Brown's signature. It means that athletes who sustain apparent concussions on the field must be withdrawn from play and not allowed to return until they're judged able to do so by somebody designated to make such judgments but not necessarily including neurological or neurosurgical specialists. Prior to passage of this law, healthcare professionals were at risk for civil liability better known as malpractice for wrongful decisions resulting in harm to players. Since many doctors undertook this responsibility on a pro bono (unpaid) basis, parents, schools, and teams often cut a little slack in the process. Not so anymore because the issue has now been raised to one of criminal liability. It is no longer just a civil matter to make a mistake. It is now a matter of potential criminal liability. High schools are unlikely to afford putting in place optimal protective measures, e.g., an on-site neurological specialist, ambulances and EMT vehicles discreetly parked near-by, etc.

Hayashi and staff were offered ways to improve the bill without pulling it. These offers went unanswered. The bill was supported by certain medical organizations that meant well, that intended to protect players, but that were short-sighted in their eagerness to have a seat at the legislative table. That seat has now become the hot-seat. Hayashi should offer protective amendments while she still has the chance.

AB 655 (Hayashi, transfer of peer review material): This bill, now signed into law by Gov. Brown, was also well intended; unfortunately, it was written in such a careless manner that it allows false and defamatory materials to be included with whatever peer review documentation is transferred from one hospital to another (this process is how a physician gets practice privileges at additional hospitals).

Hayashi and staff were advised about the defect in the bill and were offered language to abort the careless language in the bill. Hayashi and staff did not offer a reply. Instead, Hayashi belittled the doctors and falsely told the Assembly that there was no opposition to the bill even when there were about 50 protests already on file (none were from fellow legislators).

Linda Halderman, MD, Assemblywoman, told the Assembly that she'd received a record number of inquiries on this bill. Hayashi told the Assembly that there was no opposition. Halderman then stated that she would support the bill. We believe that Halderman should have known better, indeed, that she did know better and gave Hayashi support in a legislative charade where Halderman pretended to ask a question and then dove head first into the Hayashi camp. The shameful show got video-recorded and is still available through the Assembly itself. We can now watch for Halderman's rise in insider legislative circles (Hayashi's chair and future are in doubt even though she can finish her term). All the same, there is still time for Hayashi to seek corrective amendments to her bills. The question is whether or not she wants to do so.

In the meantime, doctors are now at risk of criminal culpability for errors in judgment and should fully understand the consequences of participating in sports activities that are associated with concussions (such as but not limited to football, hockey, soccer, boxing).

No comments:

Post a Comment