Monday, September 19, 2011

In Pennsylvania, $23 Million Jury Award for Woman Who Lost Both Legs Due to Infection

Headlines out of Allentown, PA's The Morning Call, indicate a medical malpratice lawsuit by a woman who lost both legs due to infection while under care the care of a home care nurse, has been awarded $23 million by a jury. According to the report:
"The medical malpractice verdict, among the highest ever in the county, came after attorneys [the plantiff] argued that her home-care nurse failed to report a bacteria-infected catheter, leading to an infection that nearly killed her in 2008."
To read the article, go to:  Jury awards Lehighton woman $23 million

Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Lubin & Meyer: Boston Jury Verdict Is $11.48 Million with Interest

Breaking news via Law Links Health Links: Lubin & Meyer announced on its Twitter page tonight that they had won a jury verdict in a case involving the death of an 8-day old baby. After much searching and hand-ringing we found the first report providing more details on the case in the Boston Globe. According to a report in the White Coats Blog, the award was $7 million — $3.5 million for each parent and $50,000 for the newborn's pain and suffering. The $11.48 million is the total with interest. Again, according to the Globe report, the jury found a physician and nurse practitioner negligent in care. They baby developed notnecrotizing enterocolitis. Attorneys for the plaintiff were William J. Thompson and Elizabeth Cranford.

Friday, August 19, 2011

Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Common, Payments Are Not

Kaiser Health News reports on the findings of a study published this month by the New England Journal of Medicine suggesting that "only one in five malpractice lawsuits results in a payout. The authors conclude that the truth behind these numbers is complicated."

The study is Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty, Anupam B. Jena, M.D., Ph.D., Seth Seabury, Ph.D., Darius Lakdawalla, Ph.D., and Amitabh Chandra, Ph.D. N Engl J Med 2011; 365:629-636

A related Associated Press article on the study in the Philadelphia Inquirer carries these interesting statistics from the study...
  • "Only 1 in 5 malpractice claims against doctors leads to a settlement or other payout"
  • "Each year about 1 in 14 doctors is the target of a claim"
  • "most physicians and virtually every surgeon will face at least one [malpractice claim] in their career"
The chart below summarizes lawsuits and payouts by specialty as found in the study.

To read the full study and methodology, including more charts like the one above, click on: Malpractice Risk According to Physician Specialty to go to

Monday, July 18, 2011

New Jersey: Largest Medical Malpractice Verdict in Orange County

According to a report in the Times-Herald Record, an Orange County, New Jersey jury has reached a verdict in the case of a critical-care physician and nurse at Bon Secours Community Hospital accused of a medical error causing a woman to suffer a brain injury and became severely disabled. The jury's damage award includes $19.5 million for future medical and rehabilitation services for the patient and $5 million for her husband. Read the full news item here. (Note, the newspaper lists the verdict at $34 million, while the amounts published do not match the amount claimed in the headline. The difference may be interest on the verdict, however, no other information was attainable at the time of this post.)

Sunday, July 17, 2011

McDonald Hopkins Files Federal Lawsuit Challenging Constitutionality of Illinois Law

CHICAGO, IL — Hospital-based pathology groups and physicians in Illinois have filed a federal lawsuit seeking to invalidate, on constitutional grounds, Illinois legislation designed to shift the burden of absorbing certain patient-related costs from insurers to practitioners of only a few specifically-enumerated medical specialties. The Statute is Illinois Public Act 96-1523, and you can read the full alert here: Hospital-based physicians seek to invalidate law

Friday, July 8, 2011

Outpatient Electronic Prescribing Systems Don’t Cut Out Common Mistakes

Outpatient electronic prescribing systems don’t cut out the common mistakes made in manual systems, suggests research published online in the Journal of the American Medical Informatics Association (JAMIA).

And not all systems are the same: some perform worse than others, the study shows.

The rapid adoption of electronic prescribing systems has in part been fuelled by the belief that they would reduce the sorts of errors commonly made in manual prescribing systems, the authors say.
The authors base their findings on an analysis of just under 4,000 computer generated prescriptions received by a commercial pharmacy chain in three different US states over a period of four weeks in 2008.

They looked at the number of mistakes made and their potential to cause harm, as well as the frequency of particular mistakes and whether these were associated with one type of system.
Of the 3,850 prescriptions assessed, more than one in 10 (452; just under 12%) contained a total of 466 errors.

Of these, a third (163; 35%) were deemed to be potentially harmful.

Mistakes were classified as: “significant,” but posing little serious threat to life, such as rash, headache, or diarrhoea; serious but not life threatening, such as low blood sugar (hypoglycaemia), reduced heart rate (bradycardia), and fainting (syncope); and life threatening if not treated, such as heart attack and respiratory failure.

Among the 163 potentially harmful errors, over half (58%) were significant and the remainder (42%) were serious. None was life threatening. To read the full press release, see: E-Prescriptions.

Monday, May 2, 2011

Send Us News of Your Medical Malpractice Verdict or Settlement

Medical Malpractice Law News seeks to aggregate news and trends on medical malpractice topics including mentions of significant settlements and trial verdicts in your state. Please forward news releases or a summary of key points with credible links to confirm your news. We will consider using your submissions, but reserve the right to edit or turn it down based on relevance to our audience and our ability to confirm facts and sources. Please copy and paste your submission directly into our "comment" form, which is the best way for us to see it right away.


Friday, April 8, 2011

California Jury Awards $4.5 Million

A wrongful death medical malpractice trial that ended in a hung jury a year ago, this time ended in a jury awarding "...$3.5 million in general damages, including pain and suffering, and more than $1 million in economic damages," according to the Pasadena Star-News. See article: La Canada Flintridge physician loses medical malpractice case - Pasadena Star-News.

Saturday, March 26, 2011

Who Benefits from Medical Malpractice Caps, Doctors or Insurers?

In an article about New York's debate over medical malpractice caps, the New York Times looks at California's experience with caps, writing:
"...states that have similar caps in place offer cautionary evidence about the big savings for health care providers that such limits are believed to produce.

In 1975, California lawmakers approved a $250,000 cap on so-called noneconomic damages in cases of medical mistakes, which has since become a model for similar proposals. At least 35 states now have at least some limits on malpractice damages."
The article, Lessons for Albany on Malpractice Limits, goes on to cite numbers from the Physician Insurers Association of America that show California and three other states with "$250,000 caps in place in 1991 saw premiums increase 28 percent in the following decade."

For the full article and analysis, link to the article on NYT at: Limits on Medical Malpractice Awards Show Mixed Results.

Tuesday, March 22, 2011

Pennsylvania Leader in Reporting 'Never Events'

The Allentown, PA Morning Call published a lengthy article by Tim Darragh on wrong-site surgery in Pennsylvania. The report titled, 'Never events' happen dozens of times a year, starts with this lead in...
"More than five times a month, every month, a doctor in Pennsylvania commits one of the medical establishment's greatest taboos — working on the wrong part of a patient's body, or even the wrong patient. Since the state Patient Safety Authority began collecting data in mid-2004, health care facilities have reported 416 "wrong-site surgeries," an average of 64 a year, the authority reported this month."
Click here to read the full article.

Sunday, March 20, 2011

In Connecticut, 'Safe Harbor' Language Causes Stir

New London, Connecticut's carries an editorial by John Foley, a former cardiologist, regarding the importance of 'safe harbor' offered by adhering to evidence-based medicine practices. The state's SustiNet legislation recently had the safe harbor language remo which has physicians up in arms. Click here to read more on what's happening on this issue.

Monday, March 14, 2011

Mass General Lawsuit Hopes To Change Internal Policies

A recent lawsuit filed against Massachusetts General Hospital in Boston provides the family of a woman who died as the result of a medical error with an opportunity to push for changes in hospital policies. The family's attorney Drew Meyer said in a Fox News interview that what the family is pushing for "is some recognition by Mass General that they are changing their policies." See video below...

UPDATE  8-19-11: The plaintiff lawyer's trial report is now available on this lawsuit, which settled for $2.5 million. To read, click on: Medication Error Trial Report.

Wednesday, February 23, 2011

In New Hampshire, Medical Malpractice Screening Panels Under Review

From sister website NH Medical Malpractice News, is a post providing the number of cases that have come before New Hampshire's medical malpractice screening panels...
"... there have been some 387 cases brought to the attention of screening panels since 2007, with 147 resolved prior to panel review. Of the 240 remaining cases 87 were waived, 84 have been heard and 69 are pending as of Dec. 10. Only 18 medical malpractice cases have gone to a jury trial after panel review since 2007."
For the full article please see: The jury's still out on malpractice panels

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

In Montana, $1.7 Million Jury Award

The Missoulan reports via Associated Press article on a medical malpractice jury award of $1.7 million in a lawsuit filed by a family over the death of a father/husband that alleged his chest pain was misdiagnosed as a torn muscle, rather than a leaky heart valve. via share this

Wednesday, February 9, 2011

In Florida, $19.2 Million for Medical Error in Newborn

In Lee County Florida comes news of a medical malpractice lawsuit with a $19.2 million award filed by a family who's premature infant was given 100 times the intended dose of nutrients leading to cardiac arrest and complications believed to lead to cerebral palsy and blindness. See the report from Channel 2 RSW Florida below.

To read the full story, click on: Florida med mal.

Thursday, February 3, 2011

Looking at Mediation Instead of Trial for Medical Malpractice Cases

NPR's Health Blog, Shots, carries a post briefly outlining some of the financial incentives of mediation v. trial for medical malpractice cases. Writes author Michelle Andrews:
"Plaintiff's lawyers typically work on a contingency basis in medical malpractice cases, earning about 30 percent of the settlement amount. Although there are no hard data, mediation settlements tend to be smaller than jury awards, say experts."
But, she adds, "there's no jury to convince, so the money's a sure thing, and they may get it years sooner than they would if the case went to trial."

To read the full post, please click on: Mediation v. Trial.

Saturday, January 29, 2011

Medical Liability/Medical Malpractice Laws by State

The National Conference of State Legislatures (NCSL) does a great job of documenting medical liability/malpractice laws and legislation by state. We feature a link to the list in our Medical Malpractice Resources section, but thought a post here was in order to better publicize this excellent resource. The information is available in a chart that summarizes, by state, the following information:
  • Damage Award Limits or Cap
  • Statute of Limitation
  • Joint and Several Liability
  • Limits on Attorney Fees
  • Patient Compensation or Injury Fund
  • Doctor Apologies/Sympathetic Gestures
  • Pre-trial Alternative Dispute Resolution and Screening Panels
  • Affidavit or Certificate of Merit
  • Expert Witness Standards
  • Medical or Peer Review Panels
See the NCSL state-by-state comparison of laws here: Medical Malpractice Laws by State.

Thursday, January 27, 2011

Minnesota Sees Spike in Medical Errors at Hospitals There

The Minneapolis-St. Paul Tribune reports a sharp increase in medical errors in the state.
"Minnesota's annual report on adverse events -- a public accounting of preventable errors by hospitals -- shows 13 serious medication errors in the year ended last Oct. 6. By comparison, only 14 medication errors were reported in the previous three years combined."
See the full article here: Medication errors rise sharply at Minnesota hospitals

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

In Massachusetts, Psychiatrist in Rebecca Riley Case Settles for $2.5 Million

Medical malpractice attorney Benjamin Novotny has been getting plenty of press lately related to the settlement of the medical malpractice case against Dr. Kifuji, a psychiatrist who treated young Rebecca Riley who died at age 4 of an overdose of psychotropic drugs. The case against Kifuji, who prescribed Clonidine (a sedative), Depakote (a mood stabilizer), and Seroquel (an anti-psychotic) to the girl, had to await trial after the criminal trials of the girl's parents who were both found guilty. The $2.5 million settlement was the limit of the doctor's insurance. The settlement money will be put into trusts for Rebecca's siblings who are now 10 and 15 years old, and be used for education programs. Below are related articles in the press and Novtony's appearance on CNN's In Session commenting on the case.

The Boston Globe - Tufts settles suit against doctor in girl’s death for $2.5m
Boston Herald - Settlement no relief for slain child’s kin
Patriot Ledger - Rebecca Riley's estate gets $2.5 million in lawsuit settlement with psychiatrist
Wicked Local Weymouth - Rebecca Riley’s estate receives $2.5M

Novotny's law firm Lubin & Meyer has posted a trial report on its website that carries additional details of the case and the settlement: Lawsuit of Rebecca Riley Estate.
Kifuji continues to be employed by Tufts. Comments are welcome.

The Hill: Obama Address Causes Heartburn for Tort Lawyers

In last night's State of the Union address, President Obama held medical malpractice tort reform out as a sacrificial lamb. The Hill's Healthwatch carries more on the president's thinking on tort reform in this articls: Obama address causes heartburn for tort lawyers .

A related article also in The Hill: Senate Democrats greet call for medical malpractice reform with skepticism.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

Malpractice Caps Challenged in West Virginia

An article in Renal & Urology News reports on a West Virginia couple challenging that state's medical malpractice award caps. According to the article, West Virginai has a cap of $500,000 for pain and suffering. The couple, who were awarded by a jury $1.5 million in damages and $129,000 for medical expenses and lost wages, have had their award cut to $500,000 combined.

According to the report:
"The couple is arguing that the law capping damages is unconstitutional because it interferes with the right to a trial by jury, and it prevents the jury from making the ultimate decision in the case. The case has been appealed to the West Virginia Supreme court."
Read the full article: West Virgina Malpractice Award Caps Challenged.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

How to Reduce Medical Malpractice Claims? Study Says Surgical Checklists

Reuters reports on a study from Amsterdam which concluded that "...nearly a third of the malpractice claims arose from mistakes that likely would have been caught by a [surgical] checklist." The article also quotes Atul Gawande from the Harvard School of Public Health, "a surgeon who has written extensively on the topic." Said Gawande:

"This kind of evidence indicates that surgeons who do not use one of these checklists are endangering patients..."

According to the article, "only about one in four U.S. hospitals use one of the three checklists that have been proven to work." To read the full article, please click on Reuters Surgical Checklists.

Monday, January 17, 2011

In Connecticut, Malpractice Cases Missing from Physician Website

An investigative report by Matthew Kauffman for the Hartford Courant reveals that a Connecticut health department website, that is supposed to provide updated information medical malpractice payments made on physician profiles, was missing such information on more than 100 doctor profiles.
"The profiles — posted on the health department's website in part to help consumers choose physicians — are supposed to include information on all malpractice payments made in the past 10 years. But a review by the Courant found more than 100 doctors whose malpractice cases are missing. Overall, about one in six physicians who have made payments in recent years for harming or killing patients are presented as having completely clean records."
To read more, see the Hartford Courant article: Malpractice Cases Missing from State Website.

Monday, January 10, 2011

Huffington Post Puts Defensive Medicine on Trial

An article on Huffington Post puts defensive medicine on trial: It's Time to Call Their Bluff: "Defensive Medicine" Is a Fraud. The January 6 post by Joanne Doroshow states:
While anonymous doctor surveys provide the principal foundation for the argument that widespread "defensive medicine" exists, credible organizations who have looked into the issue have had a very hard time identifying pervasive "defensive medicine," especially when managed care companies are paying the bill.
But, writes Doroshow, there is another issue.
In these anonymous surveys, doctors never actually identify specific tests or procedures they have conducted for the primary purpose of avoiding a lawsuit, let alone a service they would no longer perform if severe "tort reform" were enacted. There is no better illustration of this than the June 1, 2009, New Yorker magazine article called "The Cost Conundrum; What a Texas town can teach us about health care," by Dr. Atul Gawande. This widely-circulated article explored why the town of McAllen, Texas "was the country's most expensive place for health care."

Click through to read the full Huffington Post, and to link through to The New Yorker article Cost Conundrum.