News

Fewer Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Succeed, But Payouts Are Up

CBS News March 28, 2017 The rate of paid medical malpractice claims in the United States has declined significantly, dropping nearly 56 percent between 1992 and 2014, researchers report. At the same time, the average payout for successful malpractice claims rose about 23 percent — topping $353,000 in 2009-2014, up from about $287,000 during the 1992-1996 period, the study found. These two trends could reflect the influence of tort reform on malpractice lawsuits, said lead author Dr. Adam Schaffer, an instructor at Harvard Medical School. Laws that limit, or cap, damage claims could make it tough to find an attorney…

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Transforming Medical Malpractice With Technological Discovery

The Legal Intelligencer April 11, 2017 Medical malpractice cases need to be investigated like a medical examination; one that includes the taking of current complaints, a medical history, a physical examination and a differential diagnosis. Since the medical field is in flux, the attorney must appreciate that medicine is changing through technological innovation, instant communication and electronic health record implementation. For the start of our legal examination, we must understand the current complaint: medical errors. Medical error is the third leading cause of death in the United States. Deaths from medical errors are almost eight times greater than deaths from…

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For Malpractice Reform, Focus on Medicine First (Not Law)

The New York Times April 17, 2017 Congressional Republicans have recently revived efforts to overhaul malpractice laws, including capping certain kinds of suits at $250,000. A perennial argument of supporters of such measures is that many claims are frivolous, clogging the court system and driving up health care costs for everyone. But does the evidence support this? You don’t have to look too hard to find backing for the notion that some malpractice claims lack merit. A 2006 New England Journal of Medicine study reviewed a random sample of 1,452 claims from five malpractice insurers. Its authors found that 37…

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GOP Again Proposes Malpractice Tort Reform, With a Twist

MedScape February 28, 2017 Over the past 20 years, House Republicans repeatedly have passed malpractice tort reform that caps noneconomic damages at $250,000, only to be stymied by Senate Democrats who view such measures as an intrusion on a plaintiff’s right to his or her day in court. Today, the Republican-controlled House Judiciary Committee narrowly approved another such medical liability bill, but one with a twist. The reforms would apply to malpractice suits in which the plaintiff received healthcare covered through a federal program, subsidy, or tax benefit. In other words, healthcare provided under Medicare, Medicaid, or private health plans…

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Florida Justices Rule Medical Documents Must Be Disclosed

The Ledger January 31, 2017 In a ruling that could have implications for medical-malpractice cases across the state, the Florida Supreme Court on Tuesday said a Jacksonville hospital system was required to provide records to a patient’s family because of a 2004 constitutional amendment. The 5-2 ruling overturned a decision by the 1st District Court of Appeal, which said a federal patient-safety law shielded the hospital system from having to turn over some documents in a malpractice lawsuit. The ruling stemmed from a voter-approved ballot initiative, known as Amendment 7, that was designed to expand access to records in malpractice…

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Stronger Malpractice Laws May Not Prevent Surgical Complications

Reuters January 17, 2017 More aggressive malpractice climates don’t necessarily protect patients from surgical complications, a new study suggests Supporters of medical malpractice laws that make it easier for patients to sue doctors say these protections are necessary to improve care. But in the current study, the risk of litigation didn’t translate into better outcomes, said study leader Dr. Karl Bilimoria, director of the Surgical Outcomes and Quality Improvement Center at Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine in Chicago. “It doesn’t really work – malpractice environment doesn’t influence doctors to provide better care,” Bilimoria said by email. “Rather, it may…

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Malpractice cases against evil Detroit doc settled for $8M

Insurance Journal, July 22, 2016 Patients who filed medical malpractice claims against Detroit-area oncologist Farid Fata and three Michigan hospitals will receive settlements totaling $8 million. The settlements were approved July 20 in Oakland County Circuit Court. They will be distributed by an arbitrator later this year to about 40 people. Fata is serving a 45-year federal prison sentence for intentionally misdiagnosing or mistreating patients. Many patients were told they had cancer and went through excessive chemotherapy. He was paid millions of dollars by insurance companies. Fata pleaded guilty in 2014 to fraud, money laundering and conspiracy. His assets were…

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Indiana raises damage caps on malpractice

Indiana Lawyer, July 13, 2016 Historically, Indiana is not well known for being at the vanguard of legal reform. While there are many reasons for this hesitancy to lead change, several statutes have proven to be the exception, including the Indiana Medical Malpractice Act. Indiana was the first state in the nation to enact medical malpractice tort reform in 1975, providing statutory caps for damages and a state-operated excess fund for high-value cases. Since its inception, the act has remained largely intact, although the damage caps have increased three times since the 1970s. The initial cap of $500,000 was increased…

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Malpractice laws in Wisconsin make things even harder for victims

TMJ4, July 9, 2016 Seven hundred deaths a day from medical mistakes. New research shows that’s how many Americans are dying due to medical errors.  The I-Team looked into malpractice deaths in Wisconsin and talked to victims who say state laws make it nearly impossible to right the wrongdoing. According to new research led by Johns Hopkins, medical errors claim more than 251,000 lives a year, making it the third leading cause of death behind heart disease and cancer.  And if medical malpractice happens in Wisconsin, many people affected are blocked from seeking justice because of laws and court rulings.…

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Military courts provide little help to medical malpractice victims

Military Times, July 10, 2016 Rebekah Moani Daniel arrived at Naval Hospital Bremerton in Washington state with her husband, Walter Daniel, on March 8, 2013, to bring the couple’s new baby into the world. And at 3:38 p.m. the following day, she did just that, giving birth to a healthy daughter, Victoria, in what seemed to be a nearly textbook delivery. Navy Lt. Rebekah Moani Daniel, 33, died in 2014 after bleeding to death following the birth of her daughter. She was a labor and delivery nurse at Naval Hospital Bremerton, Washington, where she died. Her husband, Coast Guard Lt. Cmdr. Walter Daniel, is raising their…

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