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.