Letter: Poor decision
I am shocked, outraged, disappointed and deeply saddened by the article which was printed by your paper titled “Jury awards $300,000 to widow of park volunteer.” The article was not only slanted, it was inaccurate and could very well destroy the career of one of this Valley’s most competent, qualified and caring physicians. I am speaking of Dr. Joseph Heflin, who has been a leader in this Valley and has brought the standard of medical care and quality of service to the level which we all have the privilege of enjoying today. Dr. Heflin has been a community volunteer and has dedicated this time, training and expertise in this Valley for many, many years. He is a brilliant professional and has a bedside manner that provides security and comfort to his patients. He has worked tirelessly to improve medical health here in Carson Valley and now, because of one very sad and unfortunate circumstance, you have chosen to allow him to be maligned on the front page of your paper.
I did not see a Record-Courier reporter sitting in on the trial of this qualified professional; yet in publishing the story, the R-C publicly humiliated and potentially damaged a professional career that spans more than a decade. Dr. Heflin has saved many, many lives in this community, including mine, and I am appalled by the lack of respect and dignity you have allowed in order to sell newspapers. The expert testimony in this trial was very strong and Dr. Heflin, in my opinion, should have prevailed. He did exactly what a contingent of other highly qualified physicians and experts testified that they would have done. He did provide Mr. Fredin excellent, appropriate care and provided instruction both verbally and in written form. No physician can travel along with each patient in order to observe them for “changes” in behavior. A physician must rely on the ability and capacity of the caregiver to be responsible and diligent in following the orders given and immediately notify the physician or return if any changes occur after the patient has left the ER.
This was an emotion-led jury that based its decision on feelings instead of facts. Juries that do not comprehend the intricacies of the medical profession, yet elect to potentially destroy a professional’s career based purely upon emotional outpouring is why our country is in the mess that we are in as it relates to medical coverage, physicians, malpractice insurance, medical costs and the exorbitant expense all of us pay for unnecessary, expensive tests ordered only as a protection against this type of lawsuit. Dr. Heflin did not get judged by a jury of his peers. He got judged by a jury of Mrs. Fredin’s peers and they failed to comprehend, or chose to ignore, the expert testimony in favor of the emotional plea. Mr. Fredin’s death was a tragedy, but it was not the result of negligence on the part of Dr. Heflin. Had the R-C reporter taken the responsibility to sit in on the trial and hear all of the evidence and expert testimony, he would not have so quickly penned a front page article that hit Dr. Heflin where he lives and where he works.
If this Valley loses the benefit of this outstanding professional it will be a great loss to this community. I am so disappointed in this unfair, inappropriate, and unnecessary public crucifixion of this caring, compassionate and capable physician. I am proud to call Dr. Heflin my number one choice for a physician for my family and me and a dear and wonderful friend.