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Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice News

  • Understanding Medical Malpractice in Foreign Countries (Medical Tourism). Cheat sheet: in most countries where you go looking for a deal, there will not be much of a safety net when something goes wrong.
  • Medical Mistakes Claim Lives in Tennessee (Public News Service). Reports 5,000 malpractice lawsuits outstanding in Tennessee. Which I find hard to believe.
  • Malpractice Cases Missing from Connecticut State Website (Courant). The profiles are a good idea by the state of Connecticut. They give patients more information in choosing a physician. But a local newspaper found more than 100 doctors whose malpractice cases are missing. Worse than no information? Bad information.

Transition to Electronic Records Causes Hospital Quality Challenges: Study (About Lawsuits)

Expected Malpractice Insurance Discounts for EMR Haven’t Materialized Yet (Healthcare Information Technology)

Clinic Accused of Medical Negligence After Liposuction Death (Ohio Personal Injury Attorney Blog)

  • Could proposed reforms change the face of New Jersey medical malpractice claims? ( Some doctors want a law that limits the ability of medical malpractice insurers to raise premiums on doctors unless there is a finding of liability. The problem? Most good medical malpractice cases are settled. Raising rates only when there is a jury verdict would not properly raise rates on high risk doctors. Why can’t insurance companies make their own post-settlement findings on liability?
  • Ways In Which Medical Malpractice Claims May Result From Delayed Diagnosis Of Colon Cancer (Colon Cleanse Health). Colon cancer cases are difficult in Maryland because of Maryland’s tough loss of chance law.
  • Washington clinic accused of medical malpractice in liposuction wrongful death (JusticeNewsFlash Release)

  • Wrongful Death and Medical Malpractice Allegations Prohibit Cosmetic Surgery for Encino Physician (The Daily News Source). The problem with cosmetic surgery is that its profitability lures both those qualified and those not qualified for the job.
  • Hospital board approves physician recruitment package (Marion County Record). Note that the doctor sought for this job will get paid more if he sees more than 19 patients a day.
  • Malpractice News and Stories (Maryland Medical Malpractice Attorney Blog). Another roundup of stories which appears to be my new thing.

It is harder to write during the holidays. It is much easier to pass on the work of others.

  • Texas Tort Reform Immunizes ER Docs Against Most Malpractice Claims (well respected malpractice lawyer in DC and Maryland on “willful and wanton” standard for ER doctors in Texas)
  • Hospital Safety Still an Issue: Better Medical Care, Not Tort Reform, is the Answer (article by another Washington DC/Maryland malpractice attorney)

A lot of very smart people are looking at ways to decrease the incidence of medical malpractice in this country. The early returns are not good, according to a new study published in the New England Journal of Medicine. The study found that efforts to decrease medical malpractice in our hospitals has, at least as of 2007, failed and that the Institute of Medicine’s goal of a 50% reduction during a 5-year period has not been met, to say the least.

Interestingly, the 10 North Carolina hospitals chosen in the study were picked in part because they were considered progressive in their handling of and addressing the root causes of medical malpractice. The authors, and we have no way of gauging this beyond taking their word for it, believe these results are indicative of malpractice rates in this country generally.

Does this mean that efforts to reduce malpractice don’t work? The authors suggest the opposite, saying that focused efforts to reduce discrete harms, such as nosocomial infections and surgical complications, can significantly improve safety. I think it means that we have to do more of what we have been doing and do it better.

A hospital leaves a 4-inch-long piece of plastic tubing inside an infant boy at birth. The child may have a permanent injury. What should the verdict be? How much is that medical malpractice lawsuit worth?

If a potential client called our law firm and asked that question, I would say I have absolutely no idea. There are just too many details you would need to know. To start, does it mean the child may have an injury? Do you know? If you don’t, what are the odds the injury is permanent? Another incredibly important question: was the child in pain and if so, for how long? What are the past and expected future medical bills? Why did this mistake happen? Who made it?

The first paragraph is a fact pattern of a case that was decided recently in Washington State. The jury awarded $257,000 in this malpractice lawsuit against the hospital.

Let’s take a sampling of people who answer yes to this question: “Are medical malpractice insurance rates for doctors in Maryland too high?” The follow-up question that 95% (source: my best guess) of them cannot answer is: “Exactly how much does malpractice insurance cost?” To say the least, it varies wildly by specialty.

In Maryland malpractice lawsuits, the most common insurance company at risk is Medical Mutual of Maryland, a doctor-owned insurance company. This chart provides the rates according to one source, which includes data on how the rates changed from 2008 to 2009:

My comments:

There has been a settlement in the St. Joseph’s stent case. No, not those cases. This settlement was for the not so unrelated lawsuit by the federal government for the kickbacks given for referrals from Mid-Atlantic Cardiovascular Associates. St. Joseph was accused of making payments to Mid-Atlantic for referrals for cardiac procedures, most notably, stents.

How many people were privy to this scheme? We are talking about a nonprofit hospital here. Why is a nonprofit – basically a publicly owned business – willing to risk its reputation by engaging in an illegal scheme to get more patients? On its face, it seems crazy.

Nonprofit or not, most hospital executives have a vested interest is a big and “profitable” hospital. It means more prestige and, not so parenthetically, more money for everyone involved in the hospital. The added perks and future job opportunities don’t hurt the motivation to get bigger and better. Notwithstanding the nonprofit veil that most Maryland hospitals have, there is an economic motivation that guides, to varying degrees by hospital and administrator, their decision-making process.

The Maryland Court of Special Appeals provided yet another ruling about the nuances of malpractice law in Maryland, specifically the certificate of merit and other technical requirements necessary for initiating a medical malpractice lawsuit.

In Maryland, the procedures for filing and litigating medical malpractice actions are established by the Maryland Healthcare Malpractice Claims Act which governs medical malpractice lawsuits filed in Maryland. This statute requires plaintiffs’ medical malpractice lawyers in Maryland to jump through a lot of hoops. Most notably, a certificate of merit from a medical doctor is required before bringing a malpractice lawsuit.

Malpractice attorneys in Maryland dislike this requirement. I have mixed feelings about it because I do think some frivolous malpractice lawsuits get filed in other jurisdictions and I think this is a way to weed out some of those suits. The problem is that the spirit and purpose of the statute often gets destroyed by defendant’s malpractice lawyers using gamesmanship as a means to end-run fairness in an effort to get a meritorious lawsuit past the legal technicalities of bringing a claim.