Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Connecticut Looks At Med Mal Review Law

The CT Mirror reported yesterday that attorneys are pushing for changes in that state's medical malpractice lawsuit procedures, specifically in how cases come to court.
"Since 2005, a patient wanting to claim damages from a doctor for alleged negligence must have his or her case reviewed by a similar health care provider, who will certify whether the claim has merit. If the patient can't get what's known as a good faith certificate, the courts will dismiss the case before it gets to trial."
 The report quotes the president of the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association Mike Walsh:
"The term 'similar health care provider' was interpreted in such a rigid fashion that unless you had a doctor who was totally identical in terms of certifications and expertise and all the rest as the defendant, the courts would essentially dismiss the case..."
Please read the article at: The CT Mirror.

Monday, April 1, 2013

Missouri: House Passes Bill To Reinstate Med Mal Damage Caps

As reported by St. Louis Public Radio, The Missouri House has passed Legislation to reinstate medical malpractice damage caps that was "tossed out last year by the Missouri Supreme Court." (The court found that the cap law violated a right to a jury trial.) You can link to the news item here on St. Louis Public Radio.

The Springfield News-Leader also carried this report, stating:
"The bill places a limit of $350,000 in awards for non-economic damages, such as pain and suffering, stemming from medical malpractice lawsuits. The cap was initially put into place in 2005 but was struck down last year by the Missouri Supreme Court as unconstitutional under the state’s constitution."
In a press release from Mellino Robenalt law firm, Attorney Tom Robenalt commented on the Missouri bill.
“It goes without saying that medical malpractice is a hot button for not just victims, but for lawmakers, the media and insurance companies. Everyone wants to do something about the costs of medical malpractice, but few seem to get the point that it’s the victim they need to focus on, not the bottom line financial concerns for the insurance companies.” 
For more on Robenalt's view, see: Does A High Standard of Proof Help or Hinder Victims?

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

Changes in State Medical Malpractice Laws

We want to hear about changes to laws governning medical malpractice in your state. Please send news articles, press releases and links to maryrkennedy -at- gmail.com. Or, add information directly through our commenting system.

Here's a recent round-up:

Oregon - Governor Kitzhaber will sign a bill passed by the House where, through the Oregon Patient Safety Commission, patients and providers can enter into mediation to resolve medical malpractice suits. According to a report in the Statesman Journal,
 "A provider can offer a settlement as part of the process. The discussions are confidential, and cannot be entered into evidence in most instances if there is a subsequent lawsuit.The deal was reached by the Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association as a result of a work group convened by Kitzhaber, who’s a physician."
Arizona - The state's supreme court recently upheld a state law that requires med mal plaintiffs to have a medical witness testify who is in the same specialty area as the provider being sued. While the ruling will make filing a medical malpractice lawsuit more difficult, the court writes it is "not unconstitutional because the requirement doesn’t flatly prevent plaintiffs from having their day in court," according to a report in the Insurance Journal.

Florida - A bill currently before the Florida Legislature would make it more difficult for parties filing medical malpractice lawsuits by requiring "a higher burden of proof  to prevail in medical lawsuits and would block suits against hospitals for errors committed within their walls if they were committed by people who are not employees — such as most doctors," according to a news report in Health News Florida.

Monday, February 4, 2013

Medical Malpractice Payouts 2012 Data | Infographic

What do you think about this type of infographic? Is it a useful communications tool? Does it get across the point that is trying to be made? It is published by the Cunningham Group, and designed by SteamDriven. "Using data culled from multiple sources we compiled an over view of the payouts for medical malpractice awards based on 2011 and 2012 data." Could the publisher please provide the sources for the data?

One interesting data point: 6 states account for 51.4% of all payouts: New York, Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida, and California. But aren't those also the most populous states?
Please comment on how this data compares to what you've seen elsewhere. Link to larger version.

Medical Malpractice Payouts 2012

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Select Tort Reform Summary State by State Since 1986

An article published on Need to Know on PBS on changes to the medical malpractice system, included a table that summarized selected tort reforms enacted since 1986 and which states have enacted them. The reforms that it included are:
  • Modify Joint-and-Several Liability
  • Modify the Collateral-Source Rule
  • Limit Noneconomic Damages
  • Limit Punitive Damages
Click here to read the article and view the table: Prescriptive policies for medical malpractice.

Monday, January 28, 2013

Massachusetts Medical Mistakes: Sorry Seems to Be The Hardest Word

The Boston Globe Magazine yesterday ran an article that follows up on our previous post on the attempt in Massachusetts to control costs with its medical mistake DA&O law (disclosure, apology and offer). The article by Dr. Darshak Sanghavi is headlined, Why is it so hard for doctors to apologize? Fixing a system built on blame and revenge will require bold ways of analyzing mistakes and a radical embrace of openness. 

Sanghavi wrote:
"Last August, Massachusetts enacted reforms that usually make doctors’ apologies inadmissible in court, require claimants to file “letters of intent” before suing, and impose a six-month waiting period to allow doctors and patients to work out the matter. The law might pave the way for earlier, more amicable settlements.

But the bitter fact is that there is no appetite in the medical community to come clean preemptively about every medical error. The list of them is just too long. No major reforms, including those just passed here, are truly proactive, since they all still require patients or families to call a lawyer before anything happens."
 See previous post: Massachusetts Passes Health Care Cost Control Bill.