Saturday, September 15, 2012

9-15-12 Medical liability news and information

Liability and Health Reform Update:

Medical Liability News and Information

September 15, 2012

Editor, Donna Baver Rovito

This periodic compilation of news and information about health care reform relies on numerous sources for the stories health care professionals and concerned citizens need to be well informed. Periodic opinions or political comments are the editor's and the editor's alone and appear in blue italics. This eNewsletter is not affiliated with or financially supported by any advocacy organization or political candidate or group.

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2. Medical Malpractice By the Numbers
3. Public Favors Malpractice Reform; Defense Costs by Specialty; Peer-Review Protections; Malpractice Mega-Award - A Surprising Consensus on Med-Mal Reform
5. Supreme Court Orders New Malpractice Trial Based On Expert Witness' Comments About Health Care Costs,0,1586288.story
6. Docs Win Most Malpractice Cases at Trial



It’s been a while since I sent out an Update focused solely on medical liability news and information. There’s been a reason for that which I’m sure you can figure out – with all the controversy over HEALTH CARE REFORM, there’s been scant attention paid to medical liability reform in the major media, so there simply hasn’t been enough information to justify an edition focused entirely on medical liability.

I’ve been SAVING stories, though, for about six months, so here they are. Surprisingly, once I pulled them all into a single document, it turns out there are quite a few pieces that may be of interest to those of us who know that there IS still a serious medical liability crisis in our states and in the nation.

Sadly, despite promises from the administration to the contrary, there is no provision for substantive medical liability reform in PPACA, so, regardless of what happens with the election and repeal efforts, medical liability will continue to be an issue for doctors and patients.

I’m trying a slightly different format in this edition. While all of the items include a link to the original source, the first six pieces feature a bit more information.

Additional stories are grouped into nine different categories and feature just a title, brief description and a link. This way, we’ve cut down on the size of the newsletter and hopefully made it easier to read and to focus on the pieces you really want to read.

Since there’s an election in slightly more than 50 days, we should all be asking candidates where they stand on health care issues – if you don’t KNOW where you candidate for state or federal office stands on medical liability reform, you need to FIND OUT before you cast a ballot.

I’m in the process of preparing a voter guide for health care professionals for US House and Senate candidates. The guide will focus on where candidates stand on health care issues and will include things like their level of support from physician advocacy and specialty groups and where they stand on the PPACA. I’ll send it out once it’s completed. And if anyone reading this has information about a House or Senate candidate he or she would like to share, please email me at

Speaking of ballots – you ARE all registered to vote, right?

And if there’s a chance that you WON’T make it to the polls because you get distracted by saving someone’s life or something like that, you’re planning to request an absentee ballot, right?

If you don’t know how to do that in your area, just “google” the name of your state and “absentee ballot” and the first link that pops up will likely be your state’s voter registration page. It’s not a bad idea to fill one out JUST IN CASE.

Don’t take a chance that your voice won’t be heard on November 6th – this election is important for lots of reasons, but one of the MOST important is that what happens on November 6th WILL IMPACT America’s health for generations to come.

And if you think YOUR VOICE doesn’t impact the election, think again. Here’s a list of simple things health care professionals and concerned citizens can do to impact this election:

  1. Talk to friends, family, patients, colleagues, etc.
  2. Put signs and literature in your office or wear a campaign pin – or leave information in your medical staff office, lunchroom, or other site.
  3. Provide a quote about why you support a particular candidate for that candidate’s campaign to use.
  4. Write a letter to the editor, by yourself, or with some colleagues. People actually WANT TO KNOW what their doctors and neighbors think.
  5. Host a press conference in your office, or go to a campaign event in your white coat or scrubs or other health-related uniform.
  6. Donate to a candidate you support. It doesn’t need to be a lot. (Although $200 is the “magic” number at which you need to identify your profession, etc., and which gets you onto most candidates’ “preferred donor” list.)
  7. Sign a joint letter of support with several colleagues and send it to everyone you know – or, buy ad space in your local paper and publish the letter the day before the election.
  8. Blog, Facebook, Tweet or reach out on other social media about the candidate(s) you support.
  9. When you see something negative about a candidate you support in an online news article, refute it in the Comment section – and if you’re a medical professional, make sure to state that.
  10. Contact the local campaign office for a candidate you support and volunteer to make phone calls or walk door to door in white coats, etc. You’d be amazed at the impact this has. Many people vote for a candidate simply because that candidate (or a surrogate for that candidate) is the only one who personally ASKED. And many candidates have websites set up to allow you to make calls at your leisure from your home.
  11. Send a postcard in support of your candidate to everyone on your holiday card list.
  12. Send an email about who you support and why to everyone on your email list.
  13. Contact ME if you’d like to get involved with Gov. Romney’s campaign.

If everyone reading this newsletter does two or three of the above items, we’ll have a HUGE impact on the election results on November 6th.

So….PLEASE…..get involved. Your health depends on it.



Donna Baver Rovito
Editor, Liability and Health Reform Update


From MD News

2. Medical Malpractice By the Numbers

In 2010, nearly 10,000 medical malpractice claims were filed totaling more than $3.3 billion. Discover the study that reveals which physician specialists are most likely to experience a malpractice suit by age 65, plus the states with the most and least petitions

According to the Kaiser Family Foundation, there were 9,894 medical malpractice claims in the United States in 2010 for a total of $3,328,708,700. A recent study published in The New England Journal of Medicine reports that every year 7.4% of all American physicians encounter a claim. The study further illuminates which fields of specialized medicine were harder hit by the increasing number of malpractice petitions.

The study, conducted by an internal medicine physician practicing at Massachusetts General Hospital and a group of teaching and consulting economists from the Harvard Kennedy School of Government, the University of Southern California and the RAND Corporation, surveyed malpractice data of 40,916 physicians, all of whom were insured by a national liability firm, over a 14-year period between 1991 and 2005. The investigators discovered a clear delineation between 25 specialties examined based on those experiencing the highest rate of claims annually, including:

  • 19.1% of neurosurgeons
  • 18.9% of thoracic-cardiovascular surgeons
  • 15.3% of general surgeons

Those specialties experiencing the lowest rate of claims annually, including:

  • 2.6% of psychiatrists
  • 3.1% of pediatricians
  • 5.2% of family medicine physicians

As an overall risk level evaluation, the study estimated that 75% of physicians practicing in the lesser-impacted specialities would be challenged by a malpractice claim by age 65, while 99% of physicians practicing in the higher-impacted specialities would have a claim brought against them by the same age.

Measuring the Dollar Effect

Despite the high percentages of physicians experiencing malpractice claims, the study found that only 1.6% resulted in payment. Though the dollar amount for each specialty varied, investigators gathered a comprehensive picture of the payments over the last two decades, including:

  • Mean recompense equaled $274,887
  • Median recompense equaled $111,749
  • Low-end mean payment equaled $117,832 in dermatology
  • High-end mean payment equaled $520,923 in pediatrics

MD News April 2012


3. Public Favors Malpractice Reform; Defense Costs by Specialty; Peer-Review Protections; Malpractice Mega-Award

A Surprising Consensus on Med-Mal Reform

Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA: 06/07/2012

The debate over malpractice reform is almost always politically charged, at least when politicians are doing the debating. But a recent poll, conducted on behalf of Common Good, a nonpartisan government-reform coalition, indicates that voters themselves may be far less divided on the issue compared with their elected leaders.

According to a May 29 report on the poll, conducted by Clarus Research on behalf of Common Good, a significant 66% of voters favor "taking medical claims out of the current legal system and putting them into new health courts with expert judges," something that Common Good has made the cornerstone of its campaign to revamp the nation's medical liability system.[1]

Public support for the special health courts cuts across the political spectrum. Sixty-eight percent of voters identifying themselves as Republicans and 67% of those calling themselves Democrats like the idea, while support among self-identified independents was only slightly lower, at 61%.



4. Redo medical liability system by Lee S. Gross, MD

By TBO.COM | Staff

The medical malpractice tort system in the United States is not adequately accomplishing its three main goals: deterrence of unsafe practices, compensation for injured persons and corrective justice. ((Exactly.))

However, the Charlotte County Medical Society sees hope within reach thanks to a nonprofit organization — Patients for Fair Compensation.

PFC is proposing a "Patients' Compensation System" that will increase patient safety, as well as provide fair compensation and real access to justice for injured patients. By replacing the current medical liability system with one legally modeled after the workers' compensation system, not only will all three objectives be met, but it will help temper skyrocketing health care costs.

This is a unique solution. This is not tort reform or malpractice caps. This is truly a pioneering, equitable and efficient model for handling medical liability,; one that will work for patients, physicians and our economy. Traditional tort reform solutions do not lower health care costs because as long as doctors feel they could be the potential target of a frivolous lawsuit and at risk of losing an entire career's life savings, they will keep practicing defensive medicine.


Lee S. Gross, M.D., is treasurer of the Charlotte County Medical Society and president of the Florida Chapter of Docs4PatientCare.


5. Supreme Court Orders New Malpractice Trial Based On Expert Witness' Comments About Health Care Costs

The Hartford Courant 4:11 p.m. EDT, April 30, 2012

The state Supreme Court ordered a new trial Monday in a medical malpractice case because an expert surgical witness told the jury during the first trial that such suits drive up health care costs by forcing doctors to practice defensive medicine. ((This is fairly scary. I personally know of a case in which a mistrial was declared because a surgeon’s WIFE had a letter to the editor published in a local paper about the same things. I think that ir a jury is to be trusted to determine negligence or standard of care, its members are probably smart enough to hear the truth about how the current system affects care.))



6. Docs Win Most Malpractice Cases at Trial

By John Gever, Senior Editor, MedPage Today

May 15, 2012

Plaintiffs hardly ever win medical malpractice cases that go all the way to a jury verdict, and only 4.5% of claims filed ever go that far, researchers said.

Of those that do get to a jury, 79.6% of the verdicts favor the physician, a team led by Anupam Jena, MD, PhD, of Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston found.

Their analysis of more than 10,000 closed malpractice claims from around the U.S. indicated that, overall, 54.1% of those ending up in court were dismissed and the remainder were settled, they reported online in a research letter in the Archives of Internal Medicine. ((Of course, ALL of these cases generate defense costs, lost time, and higher malpractice premiums for the doctors who are falsely accused.))





((And don’t let ANYONE convince you that the “malpractice crisis” is over. It’s just quieter, but you all know how much higher your premiums are than they were a decade ago.))

Medical liability defense costs skyrocket


The average cost of defending a physician against a medical liability claim rose 63% to more than $47,000 from 2001 to 2010, according to a December report from the American Medical Association. That rise came despite the fact that nearly two-thirds of all claims against physicians were dropped, withdrawn or dismissed.

Looking Forward To An Improved Health Care System
Health Affairs (blog)
There are also flaws in the system that pre-dated the health reform law and still have to be dealt with, such as the failed medical liability system and broken Medicare physician payment formula. Medical liability. Our medical liability system fails ...

J. James Rowsey: Florida's broken medical liability system
Gainesville Sun
As a physician who has traveled the country speaking to my peers, I can tell you that doctors want to provide better patient care but are hindered by our inefficient system that drives a wedge between physicians and patients and leads to increasing ..

Medical malpractice lawsuits cost city $134 million, range from babies crushed ...
New York Daily News
THE CITY HAS doled out $134 million this year for medical mishaps at its 11 public hospitals, some during child birth and others resulting in permanent disabilities. And taxpayers are picking up the tab — more than half a billion dollars in the last ...

Does medical malpractice liability lead to better quality health care?
Point of Law
((One word answer – NO.)) Proponents of extensive medical malpractice liability often suggest that such liability deters doctors from practicing bad medicine. The argument goes as follows: The greater the chance doctors will be held responsible for their negligent actions, the more ...

Staten Island cosmetic surgeon Robert Cattani loses medical license after slew ...
New York Daily News
ALBANY — A cosmetic surgeon from Staten Island with a history of malpractice cases filed against him by butchered patients was stripped of his medical license this week. In revoking Dr. Robert Cattani's license, the state Health Department declared ... ((Proof that the current system fails – what took so long to get the knife out of this guy’s hands?))

Medical Malpractice Study Reveals that Pathologists Are at Greater Risk than ... - Laboratory News
For the year 2011, payments for medical malpractice premiums totaled $31 billion, according to a recent study published by the JAMA Network's Archives of Internal Medicine. Researchers involved in the study also determined that, compared to other ...

Malpractice awards should be capped
Baltimore Sun
The recent article about the large amount of settlements in malpractice claims reveals the inequities in the medical system and how the trial lawyers continue to be getting favorable treatment while the actual delivery of medical care is controlled ("Doctors, ...

What's Really Driving Health Care Costs Up & Limiting Access to Health CareLegal Examiner
A terrific story in the Wall Street Journal and Congressional testimony by a Republican Lt. Governor depict why health care costs are still soaring and how to bend the curve. And a new... More:

Practicing Medicine in a Litigious World: Coping with Medical Legal Stress

Written by Michael J. Sacopulos, JD, | May 15, 2012

A Google search for "Medical Malpractice Lawyers" yielded 21,600 results. The search took 0.24 seconds. Phone books, radio and television advertisements all offer lawyers ready to represent people injured by "medical negligence." While some may argue that the pace of suits against physicians is slowing, many healthcare providers feel like a target for the plaintiff's bar. J. Deane Waldman, MD, a pediatric cardiologist, knows this fear and stress all too well. In 1976 he finished his second fellowship training. In his more than 30-years of practice he has been sued three times. The first two suits, nothing happened and the cases were dropped. The third suit he was sued with an $8 million judgment against himself and the University of Chicago for a patient he was not treating, says Dr. Waldman.

Frivolous Medical Malpractice Suits: No Harm Done?

Published on May 25, 2012 by aapsonline

Medical liability reform expert, Donna Rovito of the Lehigh Valley Coalition for Health Care Reform, speaks out about the enormous harm done to both patients and physicians by frivolous medical malpractice claims. She also addresses possible solutions to cut the financial waste and loss of patient access caused by this crisis. The current system benefits no one except the attorneys explains Ms. Rovito. ((I love it – they called me an “expert!”))

Most Physicians Will Face Malpractice Claim by Age 65

August 17, 2011 ( UPDATED August 23, 2011 ) — The risk of facing a malpractice claim in any given year ranges from 2.6% for psychiatrists to 19.1% for neurosurgeons, but over a medical lifetime, most physicians across all specialties can expect at least 1 claim, according to an article published today in the New England Journal of Medicine (NEJM). The findings, drawn from the files of a major malpractice insurance carrier with clients across the country, represent more fodder for the ongoing debate on tort reform, a subject dear to organized medicine.

New Study Finds 91% of Physicians Practice Defensive Medicine

June 28, 2010 — The fear of being sued for medical malpractice is pervasive, leading 91% of physicians across all specialty lines to practice defensive medicine — ordering more tests and procedures than necessary to protect themselves from lawsuits — a new study finds. A survey by researchers from Mount Sinai School of Medicine, New York City, also found that the same overwhelming percentage of physicians believe that tort reform measures to provide better protections against unwarranted malpractice suits are needed before any significant decrease in the ordering of unnecessary medical tests can be achieved. ((Hmmmm…..wonder how much that contributed to high health care costs…..?))

CBO Report Raises Estimate of Savings From Medical Malpractice Reform

The CBO estimate of tort reform's potential to reduce the deficit is roughly 10 times greater than what it projected last December (a reduction of $54 billion instead of $5.6 billion). At that time, the agency said that evidence about the extent of defensive medicine — and how tort reform could reduce it — was murky. However, more recent research suggests that "lowering the cost of medical malpractice tends to reduce the use of health care services," according to the latest CBO report. ((No kidding. Of course, one has to wonder about an estimate that was wrong by a factor of TEN in the first place.))

Why Defensive Medicine Won't Go Away...and Might Become Worse

Ilene R. Brenner, MD

It comes down to acceptable risk. When a physician examines a patient with a head injury and clinically clears that person without doing a CT scan, that physician is practicing good medicine. However, if one of those patients has an epidural hematoma and dies there is a high likelihood of a lawsuit, especially if that patient asked for a scan and you refused. Although that physician might win the case if the jury can be convinced of the veracity of a clinical rule-out, that was still years of stress and anxiety for the physician.

Surgical Malpractice Claims Drop, But Pay-Outs Increase

Surgical malpractice payments are decreasing in number, but payment amounts are increasing, according to an analysis of national malpractice trends reported here at the American College of Surgeons 97th Annual Clinical Congress. "We found that significant variation in payments between states exists. This heterogeneity of payment sizes suggests that there is a profound impact from the local legal environments," said Ryan K. Orosco, MD, from the University of California at San Diego.



((Like there weren’t enough OLD reasons to get sued, right? But if there’s on thing upon which we can rely, personal injury lawyers will make up for lost revenues from tort reform by coming up with NEW ways to make money off of America’s doctors and hospitals.))

Chilling New Ways Patients Are Suing Doctors

Medscape Business of Medicine Anthony Francis, MD, JD

Just when you think doctors have enough to worry about with malpractice lawsuits, plaintiff attorneys are becoming more aggressive with new traps. Malpractice tort law is a matter of "drawing lines" concerning a doctor's duty and the foreseeability of outcomes -- in other words, rules concerning liability are arbitrary. These new trends have the potential to redraw the lines and negate some of the benefits tort reform has brought to physicians. Several novel approaches for bringing suit diverge from standard medical malpractice cases. Plaintiff attorneys have attempted to expand tort law to successfully sue physicians, such as "loss of chance," failure to medically monitor, and civil rights violations. ((As a matter of risk avoidance, all physicians need to be aware of these new categories of potential suits.))

Arizona State to research legal side of genetics in health care
The National Law Journal
Now, the school has been tapped to research what if any liability attaches to "personalized medicine" — using someone's genetic profile to tailor medical treatments. The National Institutes of Health's National Human Genome Research Institute has ...

Cerebral Palsy Can Be Caused By Malpractice During BirthInjury Lawyer News
If the birth injury was due to medical malpractice or negligence on the part of the obstetrician delivering the baby, the parents may be eligible for a lawsuit, which can help them get financial compensation for their child's pain and suffering and ...

((This isn’t a NEW category, since it’s the once pioneered by John Edwards – but it amazes me that even though c-sections have increased in America from 5 to around 30% of births in response to physicians switching to c-section at the first sign of fetal distress, the incidence of cerebral palsy has not decreased by A SINGLE PERCENTAGE POINT. That, of course, doesn’t stop the personal injury lawyers from advertising on late night TV… ))

Health reform to fuel 'tsunami' of new medical malpractice suits
The number of medical malpractice suits is expected to increase “sharply” once the 20 million to 40 million uninsured Americans gain coverage through federal health reform, starting in 2014, lawyers say.
((Ah…..a whole NEW crop of suits from a whole NEW crop of patients. LOVELY. This is purely anecdotal, but I’ve been told that patients with Medicaid are far more likely to sue than those with commercial insurance or Medicare. That might be related to the overall poorer outcomes experienced by Medicaid recipients – which are likely at least partially attributable to lifestyle or lack of compliance. Has anyone else experienced that? ))

Trial Lawyer Expects Medical Malpractice Claims to Increase Under ...( - A New York-based law firm predicts that Obamacare will increase the number of medical malpractice claims, as physicians are flooded with ... ((Another good point here – as doctors are forced to see more patients and hospitals to deal with them, the sheer volume may contribute to system errors that could lead to malpractice suits. And we also know that overburdened health care professionals are likely to make more genuine mistakes. Further, since there are no provisions in PPACA to increase the number of physicians to take care of all the newly insured patients, there will be more non-physician providers doing things doctors used to do, forcing the physicians who supervise them to bear the liability for errors.))

Medical Malpractice - New Malpractice Twist: Civil Rights
In most malpractice lawsuits, an expert medical witness must demonstrate that some sort of medical negligence contributed to an adverse outcome. That is slowly changing, however, as several states have applied their civil rights laws to medical ...
((This is just ridiculous But cases will be filed and doctors will be forced to defend themselves..))

Malpractice Risks Rise With New Pressure on Doctors to Undertreat

Lee J. Johnson, Esq.; Frank J. Weinstock, MD

Doctors are stuck between a rock and a hard place. Overtreatment may be bad for healthcare costs, but doctors sometimes feel pressured to go too far in the other direction. Managed care organizations (MCOs), accountable care organizations (ACOs), and other new payment forms designed to lower costs often exert pressure on doctors to avoid various tests and procedures. The government, hospital, or insurance company may scrutinize the physician's records, and many of them may exert "pressure" to do less costly testing and fewer treatments and procedures. However, the physician faces a liability risk if he misses a diagnosis. ((And this will occur even MORE often as PPACA attempts to reduce health care costs. But it isn’t the supporters of ObamaCare, or the insurance companies, or the federal government which will be sued for malpractice – it’s the DOCTORS.))

Gotcha! When Malpractice Plaintiffs Fake or Exaggerate Injuries

Mark E. Crane

In malpractice cases, it's almost expected that plaintiffs will "gild the lily" by exaggerating their disabilities. However, even the most egregious examples of fraud generally go unpunished -- unlike the case mentioned. In many cases, searching through public records and databases can turn up phony claims without the expense and uncertainty of video surveillance. A check of motor vehicle records showed that one plaintiff had several speeding tickets issued 90 miles from the home he claimed he couldn't leave because of his "injury." ((Due diligence on whether a plaintiff is faking should occur as part of defense preparation in every case.))



ACOG - Medical Liability Climate Hurts Patients and Ob-Gyns
Washington, DC -- The medical liability climate continues to force ob-gyns across the US to reduce gynecologic surgeries, drop obstetrics, move their practice ...

Women and Ob-Gyns Need Reliable Medical Justice

By Al Strunk - The Atlantic

High-quality maternity and neonatal care is critical not just to individual families but to society as a whole: obstetrician-gynecologists (ob-gyns) help ensure that babies are born healthy and work o optimize mothers' health, as well as to advance quality health care for women of all ages. Ob-gyns are among the most frequently sued medical specialists. According to a 2009 survey, 90 percent of board-certified members of The American College of Obstetricians and Gynecologists (ACOG) have been sued. On average, ob-gyns can expect to be sued on 2.7 occasions in a professional lifetime. One third of ob-gyns sued have been sued four or more times. Forty-three percent reported suits for care provided during residency training.

Our View: Doctor shortage is the real health care challenge
Norwich Bulletin
Another factor is the cost of medical malpractice insurance —
Connecticut rates are among the highest in the nation. Many more medical school graduates are pursuing medical specialties rather than the primary care field because the pay is better, and ...

Doctors, hospitals concerned about hefty malpractice awards
Baltimore Sun (blog)
In June, a jury handed down one of the largest medical malpractice verdicts in state history, awarding $55 million to a
Baltimore couple whose son was born with cerebral palsy at Johns Hopkins Hospital in 2010. ((Wonder how much of that was non-economic damages?)) The amount is twice as high as the $30 million ...

How states are keeping doctors from moving out

In the face of physician shortages, they are focusing efforts on keeping medical students and residents within state boundaries.

By Carolyne Krupa, amednews staff

Widespread concerns about physician shortages have many states working to keep doctors trained in medical schools and residency programs there from crossing state lines to practice medicine. Nationwide, there were 258.7 active physicians per 100,000 people in 2010, according to new statistics from the Assn. of American Medical Colleges. In individual states, ratios range from a high of 415.5 physicians per 100,000 people in Massachusetts to a low of 176.4 per 100,000 in Mississippi. On average, only 39% of U.S. physicians practice in the same state where they went to medical school. Forty-eight percent practice in the state where they completed graduate medical education, said the report, released Dec. 2 by the AAMC Center for Workforce Studies. ((In Pennsylvania, 80% of residents and fellows take their skills to a more physician-friendly state after they graduate. Little more than a decade ago, we retained more than half.))



Beware US Hospitals without Medical Malpractice Insurance
All hospitals run the potential risk of making errors with their patients, which is why medical malpractice insurance is considered a standard in the industry. But the current state of the economy has led some hospitals in the
U.S. to pass on medical malpractice insurance, something that Seattle medical malpractice attorney Chris Davis says is very dangerous for patients...

Troubled New York Hospitals Forgo Coverage for Malpractice
New York Times
Many commercial insurance companies pulled out of New York years ago because “this is a very litigious state, high severity and high frequency,” said Edward J. Amsler, vice president of Medical Liability Mutual Insurance Company, which is owned by its ...

Jury Awards $78 Million in Medical Malpractice Case against Hospital
Legal Examiner
Hypoxic ischemic encephalopathy is a condition caused by the brain being denied oxygen and/or blood, which are vital to its function. This deprivation can cause permanent damage leading to... More:



Missouri State Court Strikes Down Malpractice Cap
Renal and Urology News
The court held that when the Missouri Constitution was enacted in 1820, residents of the state had a common law right to seek damages for medical malpractice claims. “Any limit on damages that restricts the jury's fact-finding role violates the ...
((This is a concern in many states which have passed significant liability reforms. The trial bar is always fighting to take those reforms BACK.))

Six States Account for Over 50% of Malpractice Payouts

Renal and Urology News

Diederich Healthcare, a medical malpractice insurance company, recently released an analysis of medical malpractice payments made in 2011, as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. By far, the state with the highest malpractice payout was New York, at $677.8 million, followed by Pennsylvania ($319.7 million), Illinois ($242.1 million), New Jersey ($221.1 million), Florida ($218.1 million), and California ($215.5 million). These six states together represent 51.4% of total payouts for 2011. States with the lowest payouts included South Dakota ($3 million), Vermont ($3.9 million), Wyoming ($4.2 million), North Dakota ($4.8 million), and Alaska ($6,347,500).


Medical malpractice insurance premiums to rise in Missouri
Live Insurance News
Medical malpractice insurance premiums are expected to shoot up in
Missouri after the state's Supreme Court has declared a longstanding cap on the premiums unconstitutional. In 2004, Missouri legislators placed a cap on medical malpractice insurance ...

States fear courts will overturn malpractice caps
... noneconomic damages and $3.4 million for future medical expenses after filing suit against Lester E. Cox Medical Centers, part of CoxHealth, and its physicians, alleging their negligence led to her son's disabilities at birth, American Medical News ...



Medical Malpractice Binding ADR Agreement Invalidated By Pennsylvania Trial ...
Legal Examiner
The Legal Intelligencer is reporting today about a
Philadelphia judge who has held that an alternative dispute resolution agreement signed by a medical malpractice plaintiff's mother is not enforceable. ((So much for seeking viable non-court alternatives.))


Despite a recent win for tort reform advocates, a new survey from the U.S. Chamber of Commerce ranks Pennsylvania's litigation climate in 40th place of the 50 states.

Justices to Mull Statute of Limitations in Med Mal Cases - The Legal ...
... Supreme Court has agreed to hear arguments on whether, in light of the certificate of merit requirement, the statute of limitations in a medical malpractice case ...


New law requires dentists to carry malpractice insurance - Measure unanimously passed by state House and Senate

Reading Eagle

About 18 months after a series in the Reading Eagle exposed the fact that dentists in Pennsylvania are not required to carry malpractice insurance, Gov. Tom Corbett on June 22 signed a law to change that. The law, which takes effect 60 days from the signing, was passed unanimously by the state House and Senate. It was one of the last issues championed by the late state Sen. Michael A. O'Pake, a Reading Democrat.



The Healthy Benefits of Texas Medical Liability Reform ...
Nine years ago this week,
Texas voters approved our desperately needed medical liability reforms. Just like every other year at this time, the trial lawyers' ...


Tennessee Tort Reform Decreases Frivolous Medical Malpractice ...
Most Recent Legislation Caps Damages While the threat of a medical malpractice lawsuit is ever-present, providers breathe a little easier these days in ...



Massachusetts Enacts New Malpractice Program
Renal and Urology News
Among other provisions, the new law requires physicians who make medical errors while treating patients to disclose the mistakes and enable physicians to apologize to patients without such apologies being used as an admission of liability against them.
((We’re trying to get that passed in PA – the House supported it overwhelmingly 171-27, but the chair of the Senate Judiciary Committee, a Republican with strong ties to the trial bar, has held it up in committee.))


Jury is out on malpractice reforms
Boston Business Journal
Boston's legal community is divided over whether new medical malpractice reforms in Massachusetts will reduce medical liability lawsuits and improve patient safety or if the changes will further complicate legal proceedings for patients who feel they ...


Disclosure Approach Could Limit Malpractice Claims
The Lund Report
As a result, medical malpractice claims have decreased from 53 to 31 per year, while the average cost per lawsuit has dropped from over $400000 to around $228000, and the time to resolution has gone from 20 to 8 months. Physicians are very satisfied ...


Seven Core Principles Could Save Costs, Improve Care, Reform Medicare ...Pharmaceutical Processing
The AAFP also addressed medical liability reform in the white paper, and noted that the current medical liability system fails patients and physicians both. "It is needlessly subjective and shamelessly costly," said the Academy. "About half of the ...


Georgia Doctors Endorse Plan to Replace Medical Malpractice (press release)
Georgia doctors, hungry for new solutions to bring down the cost of healthcare, overwhelmingly endorse a proposal by Patients for Fair Compensation to replace the state's medical liability system with one patterned ...


Patients, docs win — and lawyers lose
New York Post
Look northeast, docs: Late last month, over a veto from Democratic Gov. John Lynch, New Hampshire lawmakers enacted an “early offer” system for medical-malpractice claims that could become a national….


Defending Yourself Against Pain and Suffering Lawsuits


"Five different juries hearing the same case can come up with 5 different verdicts," says Thomas J. Hurney, Jr., a malpractice defense attorney with the Jackson Kelly law firm in Charleston, West Virginia. "Non-economic damages depend on intangibles other than whether the doctor breeched the standard of care, such as sympathy for the plaintiff and how the doctor comes across in court." "Awards do not correlate with negligence. Non-economic damages are often driven by emotion," says Donald J. Palmisano, a vascular surgeon/attorney in Metairie, Louisiana, and former president of the American Medical Association. ((Which is why they need to be limited to a reasonable amount.))


Malpractice: An Effective Ray of Hope for Doctors

Between lawsuits and high premiums, the malpractice climate seems like gloom and doom. One effort to improve the situation, which is having moderate success, has been to raise the bar for expert witnesses. In some states, legislators have been making it increasingly difficult for someone to qualify as an expert witness who can testify in medical malpractice cases. These new laws are more rigorous in regard to required credentials and expertise.


Medical Malpractice Reform Envisions $40 Billion in Savings for Floridians

Sen. Alan Hays, R-Umatilla, and Rep. Jimmy Patronis, R-Panama City, are sponsoring Senate Bill 1588 and House Bill 1233 to replace current malpractice litigation with a process that supporters estimate will eliminate up to $40 billion per year of "medically unnecessary medical costs." “The current medical liability system isn’t working for patients or physicians. It is adversarial, expensive and inefficient,” Patronis said. “Legislative action in 2012 is essential to protect Florida’s patients and reduce unnecessary health-care costs.”




Can Congress Pass Federal Tort Reform?

Eli Y. Adashi, MD; Congressman Phil Gingrey, MD

Gingrey: The real cost driver is not the price of a malpractice insurance premium to the individual physician -- sure, that might cause that doctor to limit his practice somewhat with respect to high-risk patients or affect his or her willingness to practice in a state where there are a lot of frivolous lawsuits. The real cost to the healthcare system -- to Medicare and Medicaid and these other programs that we have mentioned -- is the very expensive testing, particularly imaging procedures. That's why I feel optimistic this time, more optimistic than I ever have in the past, so hope definitely springs eternal and I think this might be the year."

Business Insurance
The Republican Party is committed to “aggressively pursuing tort reform” as a means to hold down health care costs, according to the platform adopted at the party's convention in
Tampa this week. “Frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits have ballooned ...

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