Saturday, November 24, 2007

Romney Raises Malpractice Caps As Campaign Issue

Presidential candidate and former Massachusetts governor Mitt Romney has raised the issue of medical malpractice caps as part of his campaign... Link here for more from The Associated Press.

Pennsylvania Jury Awards $3 Million for Sinus Infection Misdiagnosis

In today's Pittsburgh Post Gazette: Jury awards $3 million in malpractice suit for sinuses treated with steroids, not antibiotic...The case involved a woman who visited her family doctor's office, reporting having headaches and nasal discharge — "symptoms consistent with a sinus infection," according to the report.
"But the physician's assistant who saw her failed to make that diagnosis or to prescribe antibiotics. Instead, according to [the patient's] attorney, his client received a prescription for steroids, was told to undergo additional testing and return in a week.

But just five days later, she developed stroke-like symptoms, including facial drooping and disorientation, said one of her attorneys, Stephen Del Sole."
See article online.

Massachusetts Jury Verdict - Medical Malpractice

The Lowell Sun reports on a case in Lowell Superior Court involving a woman who died 19 days after having surgery to remove ovarian cysts in a wrongful death lawsuit, calling it "one of the largest jury verdicts in the Merrimack Valley [Massachusetts]." A jury decided after 3 days of deliberations and an 11-day trial.

Attorney for the plaintiff Suzanne McDonough said that:

"the lawsuit, filed in 2002, arose from the June 6, 1999, death of .... the mother of an 11-year-old daughter, who went into Lowell General Hospital a few weeks earlier on May 13 to remove an ovarian cyst. But while in the hospital, Edwards developed pneumonia.

McDonough alleges that at trial, the attorneys representing the doctors argued that the ovarian problems were making the pneumonia worse, so surgery was necessary even though Edwards had not been a candidate for surgery five days earlier."

She further comments in the article: "The jury found that both doctors were negligent and their negligence caused Edwards' death." The jury awarded $2 million to the daughter of the deceased, and $500,000 to the estate. Boston attorney Andrew Meyer who also represented the family said, "This was a big verdict," and with interest, the verdict could rise to $4.1 million, he said."

See full account here.

Wednesday, November 14, 2007

Ruling on Med Mal Caps: Award Limits Unconstitutional

The Chicago Tribune today reports on the controversy over limits on medical malpractice awards in the article: Judge rejects medical suit caps, Cook County ruling calls award limits unconstitutional.
"Cook County Circuit Judge Diane Larsen decided that caps on malpractice awards violated the Illinois Constitution's "separation of powers" clause, in effect ruling that the legislature can't interfere with the right of juries and judges to determine fair damages. Her ruling falls in line with a 1997 Illinois Supreme Court decision that overturned a 1995 law implementing caps on personal-injury cases."
This one's not over though, defense lawyers will appeal the decision, which sends it on to the state Supreme Court.

Friday, November 2, 2007

Medical Malpractice News Roundup

From the Kaiser Daily Health Policy Report, a summary of recent developments to medical malpractice law in three states. Briefly,
"Massachusetts: The Massachusetts Medical Society has asked state lawmakers to pass a bill sponsored by state Sen. Robert O'Leary (D) under which plaintiffs could not use statements of guilt or admissions of error by physicians as evidence in malpractice lawsuits, the Boston Globe reports. In addition to that bill, state Sen. Richard Moore (D) has introduced legislation that would create a "Health Apology Pilot Program"" with similar provisions. Go to article...

"Pennsylvania: The amount of claims paid by the state Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error, or MCARE, fund will decrease for a fourth consecutive year to $191 million, about a 50% decrease from 2003, Gov. Ed Rendell (D) said last week, the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports." Go to article...

"Washington state: A state malpractice law enacted last year prevents public disclosure of reports of medical errors by individual hospitals, according to a legal opinion sent last week by the state Office of the Attorney General to the state Department of Health, the Seattle Times reports." Go to article...