Last Week In Medical Malpractice News

  • The family of a man who died at Massachusetts General Hospital has settled its case against the hospital for $850,000. The man died after nurses failed to respond to alarms on his cardiac monitor. This death has shed national attention on the dangers of “alarm fatigue’’ among hospital staff.
  • A few New York courts are taking a new approach to handling the 4,000 medical malpractice suits filed each year. The approach…settling cases early. The pilot program will be using a $3 million grant to train more judges in medical issues, and has been shown to cut court backlogs and save money, while also proving to be a cost savings to hospitals and directly impacting the indemnity insurance of doctors. One of the new rules approved for the medical malpractice cases, in order to expedite things – scheduling Settlement Conferences 45 days after court papers are filed.
  • The Tennessee Court of Appeals issued an opinion on its relatively new certificate of merit rule in Crawford v. Kavanaugh. Maryland has a similar rule and this opinion is a cautionary tale for both Tennessee and Maryland malpractice lawyers. The lesson: don’t take a malpractice case unless you know how to handle it.
  • It is being said that confidential settlements make it harder for future plaintiffs to get evidence and information they need to bring out all the facts about the defendant’s conduct. I agree, there is little doubt that confidential settlements make it harder for the next plaintiff, as well as making the insurance less accountable. But, the problem is that people who have been badly injured have a hard time focusing on the global interests of plaintiffs everywhere when they are fighting and scrapping to be compensated for their own injuries.
  • Some experts are predicting that the increasing numbers of physicians using electronic health record systems (EHR) may trigger an increase in medical malpractice lawsuits. Regardless of the concern, the federal government is pushing physicians to implement and use EHR systems, as required under the 2009 American Recovery and Reinvestment Act, and are directing hospitals to implement the EHRs by 2012.