Friday, April 27, 2012

New Hampshire Considers Early Offer Settlement Bill

Former NH Superior Court and Supreme Court judge Chuck Douglas has weighed in on the controversial SB 406 a bill to provide "early offer" settlements as a way to expedite medical malpractice settlements. According to Douglas in an opinion piece in, the legislation,
"runs counter to the way we value life in this state. Under the proposal, a hospital or other provider can kill a patient and the compensation is only $117,500.... Furthermore, the bill is premised on the fact that elderly folks on Social Security who have no earned income, or stay-at-home moms who have no income, are not worth paying for pain and suffering. The bill covers payments only for lost wages. If you have no lost wages, your loss of enjoyment of life is worth zero."
Douglas further writes...
"The bill was drafted by a Virginia professor and has a payout formula like workers' compensation schedules. An example of what would probably be considered a low-end payment under the formula for a "permanent injury involving minor harm" ($29,750) is an article that appeared in the Union Leader on March 30 describing how a nurse cut off a child's finger after the 8-month-old arrived at a hospital with a chest infection. They could not reattach the tiny finger that the nurse mistakenly cut off. That permanent life-long mutilation would only be worth $29,750 according to SB 406 — less than $500 per year over the life (expectancy) of the child. That does not begin to compensate the child, in my opinion."
You can read his full opinion here: Hard to make choices blindfolded.

Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Mass. Hospitals Look To Promote Culture of Openess and Apologies Regarding Medical Errors

A coalition of seven Massachusetts hospitals are undertaking an intiative to transform a culture of "secrecy and denial" regarding medical errors according to a report in The Boston Globe. The hospitals in the coalition include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center in Boston, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Needham, Beth Israel Deaconess Hospital-Milton, Baystate Medical Center in Springfield, Baystate Franklin Medical Center in Greenfield, Baystate Mary Lane Hospital in Ware, and Massachusetts General Hospital. As outlined in the Globe article:
"The plan calls on doctors and nurses to fully disclose mistakes to patients and apologize. Three large insurers and a medical group have donated about $1 million to underwrite the initial work at the seven test hospitals, and the coalition hopes to implement the improvements statewide over the next several years."
Under the plan, patients who accept a financial settlement forfeit their right to sue. To read the full Boston Globe article, Mass. hospitals promise openness, apologies.