Tuesday, October 30, 2007

Emotional Costs of Medical Errors - Patient, Family, Physician

An editorial in The New England Journal of Medicine examines the issue of medical errors, in "Guilty, Afraid, and Alone — Struggling with Medical Error," in its October 25, 2007 edition. Tom Delbanco, MD and Sigall K. Bell, MD, ask "How can we characterize and address the human dimensions of medical error so that patients, families, and clinicians may reach some degree of closure and move toward forgiveness?"
"In interviews that our group conducted for a documentary film, patients and families that had been affected by medical error illuminated a number of themes. Three of these themes have been all but absent from the literature. First, though it is well recognized that clinicians feel guilty after medical mistakes, family members often have similar or even stronger feelings of guilt. Second, patients and their families may fear further harm, including retribution from health care workers, if they express their feelings or even ask about mistakes they perceive. And third, clinicians may turn away from patients who have been harmed, isolating them just when they are most in need."
Link to the entire article at NEJM: Guilty, Afraid, and Alone — Struggling with Medical Error

Sunday, October 28, 2007

Pennsylvania: Is Medical Malpractice Crisis Over?

The jury is still out on this one, but Philadelphia's Bulletin just published an article titled, Critics Dispute Rendell's Assertion Malpractice Crisis?Has Come To End.

A few facts:
"Mr. Rendell, a Democrat who has vocally opposed Republican-led efforts to cap damage awards and lawyers' contingency fees in medical liability cases told reporters and health care experts at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia that a number of policy changes made since 2002 have contributed to a decline in medical malpractice litigation in the state.
Such lawsuits contribute to the cost of business for physicians who pay hefty premiums for medical malpractice insurance. Doctors in Pennsylvania must have at least $1 million in malpractice coverage."
Read entire article here.

The Houston Chronicle has article on the same topic and provides some dollar amounts.
Gov: Pa. Medical Malpractice Costs Drop

Maine Jury Awards $8 Million Malpractice Award

The Boston Globe reports on October 25, 2007:

AUBURN, Maine — A jury Thursday awarded nearly $8 million to a brain-damaged 5-year-old boy and his mother in their medical malpractice lawsuit against a Lewiston hospital and one of its midwives. It is believed to be the largest malpractice award ever handed down in Androscoggin County Superior Court. Read full article here...

Tuesday, October 16, 2007

Massachusetts Jury Awards $26.5M Med Mal C-section delay

The Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly reports on October 12, 2007 that a Suffolk jury issues largest med-mal verdict of the year.
"In what appears to be the largest reported medical malpractice jury verdict of 2007, the jury found two doctors liable for the child’s condition, but a nurse defendant was found not negligent."
See also: Boston Herald's Doctors must pay $26.5M in baby malpractice case.

The largest medical malpractice verdict in Massachusetts remains a 2005 case also involving a baby's brain damage after a traumatic delivery — $40 million.

Monday, October 15, 2007

New Hampshire's Malpractice Screening Law and How it Works

This Boston Globe article looks at New Hampshire's medical malpractice screening panels and how they work.
"Medical malpractice screening panels were developed in the 1970s in response to complaints that claims were driving up insurance rates, forcing some doctors to give up their practices. Supporters hoped the panels would help contain costs by screening out weak cases and resolving the rest as early and inexpensively as possible.

New Hampshire set up screening panels in 2005 based on a 1987 Maine law."

Related links provided by the article include:

American Medical Association article

Maine Supreme Judicial Court opinion

2005 NH law

Another view on the same story offered by Maine's Portland Herald: N.H. law backfires, slows malpractice suits. The law, based on one in Maine aimed at lowering malpractice rates, is having growing pains, supporters say. Break: Social Security Disability Claims Lawyer

Kaiser's Medical Malpractice Resources

Medical Malpractice Law in the United States is a Kaiser Family Foundation report that provides an overview of the issues surrounding medical malpractice law, including the legal changes that states have made over the past 30 years in response to periodic concerns about rising medical malpractice costs; some newer proposals for changing medical malpractice law; and trend data for malpractice claims. While this report is from 2005, it provides excellent background info.

To access Kaiser Daily Reports on medical malpractice related issues, bookmark: Medical Malpractice Spotlight for headlines such as:

  • • State Watch - Maryland Insurance Administration, Medical Malpractice Insurer Dispute Dividend
  • • Republican Presidential Candidate McCain Announces Health Care Proposal That Focuses on Cost Containment
  • • Presidential Candidate McCain To Propose Health Care System Overhaul Offering Insurance Tax Incentives; Focusing on Prevention, Quality of Care
  • • State Watch - Doctors Relocating to Texas After Implementation of Medical Malpractice Caps
  • • Presidential Candidate Edwards Discusses Proposals To Address Medical Malpractice Lawsuits, Provide Universal Health Coverage
  • Thursday, October 4, 2007

    $16 Million Jury Award for Heart Attack Death Among Largest Medical Malpractice Verdicts in Connecticut

    October 3, 2007 issue of Newsday reports: "BRIDGEPORT, Conn. - A Superior Court jury has awarded more than $16 million to the family of a man who died of a heart attack more than a decade ago, an attorney said."

    Defendants, the Stamford Medical Group, were accused of "failing to diagnose and treat his cardiac disease." The award is believed to be one of the largest wrongful death verdicts in state history. Read entire article here.