Local/Kansas The Salina Journal Monday, January 6,1986 Page 3 Lawmakers to search for cure to malpractice ills Legislative outlook '86 TOPEKA (AP) — The controversial questions raised by the medical malpractice issue are expected to be among the most emotional subjects debated when the 1986 Legislature convenes this month. During the 90-day session, doctors will seek protection from soaring damage awards and lawyers will fight to preserve the rights of malpractice victims. The malpractice issue is a dilemma for lawmakers because it pits patients against doctors, doctors against lawyers and all sides •against insurance companies. The issue is expected to keep lawmakers and Gov. John Carlin tied in knots. It does not appear likely that the session will produce a universally accepted solution to the problem of skyrocketing insurance premiums for doctors and steadily increasing jury awards and settlements in malpractice cases. The stage is set for a massive confrontation because doctors want to place a $1 million lid on the amount of damages a victim of medical malpractice can collect. Lawyers, however, say its unfair to limit the financial punishment, as was approved by the Legislature last year, and compensation to victims as handed down by a jury. In this skirmish, Carlin will not be a peacemaker. He has come down firmly in opposition to placing caps on financial awards to victims, although he recognizes the problems posed by rising insurance premiums. Carlin wants to weed out bad doctors and keep an open limit on the amount of money that malpractice victims can receive in court. "In the process of helping doctors, you've got to take care of the victims," Carlin said recently. "A cap just tells a victim, 'I don't care how bad it is or will be, that's it (amount of money you get).' That would be very hard for me to accept." Increased premiums are being blamed for higher medical costs and for doctors leaving or shying away from high-risk fields such as obstetrics. "It's a big problem and one which we must address," Carlin said. Carlin said the state cannot continue to allow rural communities to lose doctors. Many doctors are giving up specialities such as delivering babies because of high malpractice insurance premiums. "We took a couple of steps last year with the collateral source rule and putting a lid on punitive damages, so it isn't like we're starting from scratch," Carlin said. "The major controversy is on further capping (damage awards). I don't believe in protecting doctors who make mistakes to the detriment of those who need their services." Rather than limit compensation of victims, Carlin said he prefers to beef up the Board of Healing Arts' staff, require better reporting between the state Insurance Department and the board on malpractice claims, and create local screening boards to we,ed out frivolous cases. Jerry Slaughter, lobbyist for the Kansas Medical Society, said doctors are not seeking protection for incompetent colleagues, only a common sense approach to a growing problem. He points out that such caps are not un- precedented. Several states — including Indiana, Louisiana and Nebraska — have adopted $1 million caps and some states have set maximum ceilings for payments for punitive death awards. Slaughter said recent malpractice settlements that reached the $15 million level have encouraged new lawsuits. "It's the deep-pocket theory," Slaughter said. "Lawyers take these cases on a contingent fee basis, which encourages litigation and higher awards, and they figure if they just get one big bang, they can retire. It's a system that fuels itself. "We just want to stabilize premiums by putting a reasonable cap on awards. Victims deserve to be compensated but there's no reason to make all their descendants independently wealthy and drive doctors out of business in the process." Logan man's life choked by disease By Harris News Service LOGAN — An unexpected twist of medical fate has changed Tom Goscha'slife. Just more than a year ago Goscha, 24, was a junior in the pre-medicine track at Fort Hays State University's School of Nursing. Today he lives with pulmonary fibrosis, a disease that is gradually choking off his lung capacity. It has been hard for Goscha to accept his diagnosis, but it has also been rough for his friends and family, he said. "I'm sure it's hard for people who have seen me up and walking to see me in a wheelchair," he said. "People say, 'What happened to you?' They think I was in an accident or something. It's hard to answer their questions.' Goscha can walk, but he gets tired easily because the disease causes his lungs to harden, making it hard to breath. The lung problems put stress on his heart, which also makes him tired. "It's harder to do things that I took for granted a year ago," he said. "A day of going is enough to tire me out for several days." Because of these problems he sleeps hooked to an oxygen machine that helps him breath. He also takes a wheelchair on long trips. Part of the problem when he sees friends, he said, is that doctors do not know much about pulmonary fibrosis. It is hard to explain something for which the cause and cure are unknown. He said the disease hit him out of the blue in October 1984 while going to FHSU and working at St. Anthony Hospital as an emergency medical technician. He was having trouble breathing, so he saw several physicians. One doctor sent him for more tests at a Wichita hospital, where in November a biopsy showed doctors what was wrong. "I was thankful to have found out something," he said. "I got home and realized what the full extent was." ; The Christmas of 1984, right after •learning what was wrong, was a hard one. He decided to drop out of college and move back home with his parents in Logan. "It was hard living back home after being out for six years," he •said. Now he is hoping for a heart and lung transplant. There is no alternative, he said, because there is nothing else doctors can do. "A transplant is a long shot. There's not much chance of it happening," he said. Craig Chandler BUSTING GRIME — Shrouded by mist, Matthew Patterson, 7, draws a careful aim while helping his dad wash a truck Sunday at the Green Lantern Car Wash at 120 N. Broadway. Haven woman campaigns for all-male ag board By Harris News Service HAVEN — A Haven woman may break a 116- year tradition in Kansas government. Ever since the Kansas Legislature created the Board of Agriculture in 1872, it has been run by men. Men not only ran the board, they were and are the board. No woman has ever been elected to the group, the oldest state department of agriculture in the United States. Though not the first woman to try for a seat on the all-male board, Lois Schlickau is campaigning for the position now held by John Oswald of Hutchinson, who has decided not to seek re-election. Her campaign will culminate during the annual meeting of the board Tuesday through Thursday in Topeka. Schlickau said she talked with Oswald about her candidacy. "He (Oswald) has visited with me over the last few months and has encouraged me to run," she said Friday. "After discussing it with George (her husband), I decided to run." Because the board also sets policy for the Kansas State Fair, Oswald said, he would like "I think a woman would balance it (the board) a bit. A woman might have a slightly different perspective about certain things." —Lois Schlickau his replacement to come from Reno County. Oswald said Schlickau would be very qualified for the position. The Haven farm wife said a woman could provide additional insight into fair and agricultural matters. "The fair is a male-female event," she said. "I think a woman would balance it (the board) a bit. A woman might have a slightly different perspective about certain things." Another Reno County resident who has expressed an interest in running for the board is Lonnie Kent, Hutchinson, Oswald said. Kent said he had strongly considered running for the position for three years, but the difficult farm situation has made him rethink his position. The Hutchinson man had also been encouraged by Oswald to run. "I'm about positive I won't run," Kent said. "I can't devote my full efforts to it at this point." Kent holds the job in high esteem and thinks that anyone who takes the position must be willing to dedicate many hours to the job. Schlickau does not consider her candidacy a male-female issue. Her candidacy is based on the belief she is qualified to serve on the board and could contribute to it. "I would hope that I would be an equal board member, not just a token," she said. The Schlickaus operate a diversified farming operation in Reno County. Their enterprise includes about 300 registered Hereford cows, 1,000 acres of cultivated land and 1,000 acres of grass and pasture. The Schlickau family has raised registered Hereford cattle since 1913, Schlickau added. Though she will represent the Reno County Fair Board at the annual meeting next week, Schlickau is involved in more than a dozen agricultural and civic organizations. : To gain a seat on the board, a candidate must first become a delegate to the annual meeting of the state board. Farm organizations meeting! certain criteria, county fair boards and certain! other groups are eligible to send delegates to the annual meeting. Once a person becomes a delegate and announces his candidacy, he must campaign for votes within his district. Kansas is divided into six geographic districts, with each district being represented by two board members. Each district holds a caucus the second evening of the annual meeting. During the caucus, delegates vote to fill seats where terms have expired. The final morning of the annual meeting, the caucuses present their choices to-the entire delegate body for approval. While the entire body normally rubber-stamps the caucus choices, it has the power to overrule the caucus. Natoma man's craft is now full-time job By Harris News Service NATOMA — What began as a hobby has turned into a full-time job for Randall Tucker. After he and his wife, Marcile, left their farm about 20 years ago, Tucker decided he needed something to keep him busy. "I had to have something to do. I was about to climb the walls," Tucker said. About five years after moving to Natoma from the farm near Codell, he took up marquetry, an art process in which wood veneer is used to create pictures or designs. "I had seen some of this, but I didn't know a thing about it," Tucker said. "I don't have all the answers, but I've learned a lot about it since then." Marquetry begins with a pattern of a scene. The pattern is similar to a paint-by-numbers picture. The shape of each piece of wood needed for the final product is outlined on the pattern. Numbers within the shapes correspond to the types of wood to be used. According to Tucker, most of the patterns he uses come in a newsletter from the National Marquetry Society of America. However, he said that he designs some patterns himself. Tucker estimated there were about 200 different kinds of wood available for marquetry pic- tures. The woods come from all over the world, Tucker said. "You can even get some kinds of wood from China," he said. Although some of the pictures look as though they have been painted, Marcile said that no paint is used in marquetry. Several of Tucker's pictures use nothing but the natural color of the wood. However, some of the woods are "dyed all the way through." The woods are cut into the shapes shown on the pattern. Tucker's "tools" include an art knife, a pair of tweezers and a magnifying glass. Tucker uses a type of rubber cement to glue the pieces onto the pattern. "It's sort of like putting together a jigsaw puzzle, Marcile said. When all of the pieces are in place, the picture is flipped over and glued to a board. Then the pattern and the rubber cement are peeled off the picture. Tucker said the picture is sanded and varnished until he "gets the kind of finish he is looking for." The picture is framed, resulting in a final product that is available for sale at craft shows or the Tuckers' home. Tucker said the time involved to complete a marquetry picture varies with the size and detail of the picture. While some pieces are large and easier to handle, some marquetry pieces are the size of a pin head. A picture of the Last Supper contains about 900 pieces. "That took me a while," he said. Tucker said that his favorite picture is one he did of a river boat, The Robert E. Lee. However, his wife's favorite is of a scene in the Alps. The couple also display in their home pictures of an Indian, the Statue of Liberty and several with religious themes displayed in their home. Tucker said that he has no particular theme he uses when selecting patterns. "I just do something I like," Tucker said. "I've got several out in my shop right now that I would like to do." After Tucker got interested in marquetry, he set up a shop in the couple's two-car garage. He estimates he spends 10 to 12 hours a day in his shop. However, the whole shop is not devoted to marquetry. The couple also make puzzles. The puzzles vary in size and design and are priced accordingly. The "animal" puzzles, which include cows, frogs, giraffes, dogs and cats, come complete with handmade cages. "Of the puzzles not in cages that we sell, I think Humpty-Dumpty sells the best," Marcile Tucker said. The couple also make map-puzzles of the United States. Minister relates his heavenly experience By Harris News Service LIBERAL — Seven years ago, Percy Collett discarded his tennis racket, guns and other hobbies to concentrate on heaven. During those years, the 63-year-old Florida man prayed that God would grant him a glimpse of heaven — a concept that had puzzled him since childhood. Today, he says his persistence paid off. For six days, Collett claims he had an out-of-body experience. While engaged in medical missionary work in South America, he slipped into a coma for nearly a week. During that time, he said his soul was transported through outer space to heaven, then returned to Earth. Now Collett, an Anglican minister, spends about six months every year touring the globe to speak about his unearthly encounter. This week, he's speaking in Liberal. His message, he says, is simply that he has seen heaven and it is good. In heaven, for example, no one is fat. Within it dwell thousands of angels, and every flower and creature God created on Earth. Fortunately, no cat boxes are required. There, he walked and spoke with Jesus, who insisted they speak on a first-name basis, Collett said. He saw apostles, angels, relatives and evangelists. "I had a great experience," Collett said. "I'm a realistic person. I'm the conservative type — not someone going off the deep end. This story is factful, solid. I'm just an ordinary person having a great experience with God," he said. Heaven is actually a planet, a new world, Collett said. It's a world brimming with song and dance, beautiful music, mountains of precious metals and fantastic mansions. '
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