At Tittle & Perlmuter, we believe raising awareness of important issues is essential to fixing the problems at hand.
Last year, Tittle & Perlmuter launched Allen Tittle’s Medical Malpractice Awareness Scholarship to provide students with the opportunity to raise awareness about the importance of patient advocacy and medical malpractice in today’s healthcare industry.
This scholarship aimed to not only raise awareness of the dangers of medical malpractice but to also provide support for those affected. To learn about different forms of medical malpractice including physician negligence, surgical errors, sepsis, and more, download a free copy of our Medical Malpractice Guide.
To have been considered for this scholarship, we asked students to submit an original essay discussing the importance of being a patient advocate in today’s healthcare industry. We also encouraged students to describe a time in which they, or someone they knew, experienced receiving poor medical care and what they learned from that experience.
Last year, we received over 165 applications from 33 states all over the country! These inspiring essays included touching stories from students who experienced negligence in the healthcare industry and realized how important it is to be a patient advocate for themselves and their loved ones.
Through evaluating students’ essays along with their involvement and interests, the Tittle & Perlmuter team was able to narrow it down to two finalists.
First Place – $1,000 Scholarship
Tittle & Perlmuter awarded Regina Russo with the first place award. Regina received a $1,000 scholarship check that will be used towards her senior year at Cleveland-Marshall College of Law. Regina has maintained an average GPA above 3.5 and is an active member of the Cleveland State Law Review, the Women’s Law Student Association, and serves as a mentor to younger students.
Read Regina’s essay about the importance of patient advocacy here:
“Many people fear that they will become a hamster on a wheel when it comes to their careers. They fear that the days will become circular, meaningless, and mundane. They fear the infamous 9 to 5 lifestyle. Despite this fear and despite promising oneself that they will never fall into this life, it happens.
It happens to accountants.
It happens to engineers.
It happens to doctors.
It happened to Andy. He wakes up at 5 am every morning, he goes for a run, he brews a pot of coffee, he gets stuck in morning traffic, he gets to the office, he reviews the day’s paperwork, he reads over his list of faceless patients for the day, he sees Patient #1, he checks his vitals, he thoughtlessly goes over a standard checklist with Patient #1, he checks all the boxes, he sends Patient #1 home, and tells him to come back in a year. Andy repeats this process on twenty-seven patients. At three in the afternoon, he goes home, makes dinner, watches the news, and goes to bed. The next morning, he begins the cycle again.
One month later, Patient #1 unexpectedly dies. Amidst Andy’s thoughtlessness and eagerness to get through his visit with Patient #1 so that he could stay on schedule, Andy skipped a box on his checklist. Skipping that one box caused Patient #1’s early death. Patient #1 was a relatively healthy 58-year-old man. He was a soon-to-be grandfather. He was married for 31 years. He had five children. He had the same job since the age of 18 and worked his way up to a respectable and comfortable position. He was set to retire in one year. After retirement, he had plans to travel Europe for three months with his wife, a lifelong goal of theirs.
All of that was gone when Andy skipped one box. It was not the first box Andy skipped. And it likely will not be the last.
It’s important to be a patient advocate in today’s health care industry because the above scenario plays out far too often. It is not solely Andy’s fault for his negligence. It is the institution he works for, it is the health care industry as a whole, it is the societal pressure that is put on doctors to see twenty-seven patients in one day. Patients need advocates. They need lawyers to protect them and to send a message to the health care industry: pay attention, check all your boxes, be meticulous, and show compassion to your patients.
Patients are not faceless people. They are humans with unique needs and it is a doctor’s duty to tailor their care appropriately. Patient #1 was named Vincent. His grandchildren will never know their grandfather. His children are fatherless. His wife is a widow. The simple act of missing one box has an endless ripple effect. Vincent’s untimely death was entirely preventable. A patient advocate’s purpose is to fight for Vincent and his family. There must be accountability in the health care industry. Being a doctor should not be a mundane job. It is one that should be held on a pedestal. If there is no accountability, there will be no respect for the health care industry. If there is no respect for the health care industry, doctors stop taking their jobs seriously. When doctors stop respecting themselves and taking their jobs seriously, they skip boxes.
Patient advocates are here to ensure that the medical profession does not become a “hamster-on-a-wheel” job, but one that is full of integrity and professionalism so that each and every patient receives proper care.”
By: Whitnee Pearce
Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ is Lakota for “we are all related”. This is a concept that is very much woven into the very fiber of not only the culture of the Lakota but throughout the daily duties, lifestyle, and choices you make as a relative to all. I currently work on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation in South Dakota and this phrase is something that I believe even those outside of the communities should consider and remember when they are living their lives.
For the Pine Ridge community, Indian Health Services (IHS), is the only health care provider. Unfortunately, while IHS was created to maintain treaty rights for Native Americans from the US Government, the health services provided by IHS are some of the most “bottom of the barrel” services provided throughout the United States. According to Red Cloud Indian School, “Life expectancy on the Pine Ridge Indian Reservation is the lowest in the United States—twenty years less than communities just 400 miles away—and on par with the countries of India, Sudan and Iraq”. While this number may seem staggering, it does not stop there. According to the American Indian Humanitarian Fund, “death due to heart disease is twice the national average, the infant mortality rate is the highest on this continent and is about 300% higher than the U.S. national average, almost 50% of the adults on the Reservation over the age of 40 have diabetes, teenage suicide rate on the Pine Ridge Reservation is 150% higher than the U.S. national average, and at least 60% of the homes on the Pine Ridge Reservation are infested with Black Mold, Stachybotrys.” IHS lacks preventative care for individuals, technology to treat the advancement of illnesses, and are understaffed and ill-equipped to manage the numbers of individuals needing not only treatment, but diagnosis.
I see every day from my students, friends, coworkers, the need for patient advocacy, particularly in the area of IHS. I see my students become sick, lose loved ones unexpectedly from misdiagnosis, and even have watched as students as young as 27 years old battle stage 3 cervical cancer while attending school due to mistreatment at IHS. I have also watched a coworker and someone who I view as my relative suffer daily at work as he drove students, took care of the grounds work of the college, and maintain the college center. He was in so much pain daily but pushed through for the betterment of his “relatives” and the school. Although he saw doctor after doctor, he never received any answers and IHS would not refer him on to the larger hospital, Rapid City Regional Hospital for help. Due to his poverty conditions, he could not seek outside opinions or medical help. In less than a year he died suddenly and after further investigation, he had colon cancer that had been left untreated and misdiagnosed. He could have not only potentially survived, but lived more years without suffering if he would have been advocated for as he deserved.
Seeing with my own eyes, relatives suffer and die due to inefficient patient care is one of the hardest things I have ever had to witness. Patient advocacy is imperative at all medical facilities to ensure that patients’ rights are being maintained and that they are not being shuffled along due to inadequate funds, lack of equipment, or lackadaisical attitudes by medical professionals. Patient advocacy can truly save lives and I believe if there were a better infrastructure of patient advocacy within the Indian Health Services that the treatment and survival of Native Americans would be much higher in this country.
Mitákuye Oyás’iŋ: we are all related. What would you do to save your relative?
Second Place – $500 Scholarship
Tittle & Perlmuter awarded the second-place scholarship to Whitnee Pearce, a senior at the University of Oklahoma. Whitnee serves as a Director of the South Dakota Poetry Society, is a member of the American Association of University Women, and participates in the Lambda Pi Eta Association of Writers & Writing Programs.
“Thank you for the opportunity and for your help! I am humbled by your gratitude for this award.” – Whitnee Pearce
The attorneys at Tittle & Perlmuter believe that raising awareness about medical malpractice is an important part of their jobs as medical malpractice lawyers- that’s why Allen Tittle’s Medical Malpractice Awareness Scholarship was created.