Archives: July 2011

July 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 7 July 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Bipartisan “Gang of Six” Supports Medical Liability Reform Mississippi on the Mend From Veto to Victory Health Courts Bill Introduced in the House Reaching Out, Protecting Patients Bipartisan “Gang of Six” Supports Medical Liability Reform Fortunately for supporters of medical liability reform, the bipartisan “Gang of Six” in the Senate has put together a deficit reduction plan that recognizes the importance of addressing medical liability reform in the ongoing debate over how to reduce our spiraling national debt. Passage of the HEALTH Act, with reasonable limits on non-economic damages, would lead to $62 billion in savings over the next 10 years. The proposal by the Gang of Six is the latest of several bipartisan deficit reduction plans to include comprehensive medical liability reform. The National Commission on Fiscal Responsibility and Reform endorsed medical liability reform in draft proposals late last year. The Bipartisan Policy Center’s Debt Reduction Task Force also noted that limiting non-economic damages in medical liability cases could save billions of dollars over the next 10 years. “Any serious action on the part of Congress to reduce our national deficit must include medical liability…

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GOP bill would create health care tribunals

Washington – New House legislation aims to curb the overuse of health care by establishing clinical best practices for physicians and creating health care tribunals to hear medical liability cases. “The practice of defensive medicine adds billions of dollars of unnecessary costs to our health care system and diverts doctors’ focus away from delivering quality care,” Rep. Tom Price, MD, (R, Ga.) said in a statement after introducing the legislation on June 24. The bill would use a three-pronged approach to end overutilization of tests and other unnecessary care while respecting the rights of patients and doctors to determine the best course of treatment, he said. The legislation would: Protect doctors and other health professionals from liability if they practice medicine consistent with best practices developed by physician specialty and quality organizations, and then approved by the Health and Human Services secretary. Provide grants to states to create administrative health care tribunals. The tribunals would hear cases after another panel of three to seven experts reviews evidence. Judges with health care expertise would lead the tribunals. Preserve the ability of a plaintiff to file a claim with a state court after administrative remedies are exhausted. Performance guidelines could reduce the…

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NC House overrides 3 Perdue vetoes to make laws

RALEIGH N.C. — Victims of North Carolina doctors guilty of medical malpractice will be limited to $500,000 what they can collect for pain, suffering and lost body parts under legislation the state House passed into law over a veto by Gov. Beverly Perdue. The state House voted 74-42 Monday to limit what a blameless victim of a doctor’s negligence can collect for non-economic damages. Doctors would still have to pay medical bills, lost wages and other kinds of monetary losses resulting from their negligence, but other payouts for catastrophic injury or death would be capped. “The most severely injured patients are not protected by this bill. It discriminates against them, children, stay-at-home mothers and the elderly – people who in the tough, tough parlance of the courtroom have no economic value,” said House Minority Leader Joe Hackney, D-Orange. “I think it’s a shame and I think we should stop.” Republicans said the measure would hold down medical insurance costs and attract more doctors to North Carolina. “This cap is reasonable. This cap is tested and proven” since more than half the states similarly limit malpractice awards, said Rep. Johnathan Rhyne, R-Lincoln. The medical malpractice cap was the third Perdue veto…

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W.Va. Supreme Court OKs State’s Cap for Non-Economic Damages in Case

The West Virginia Supreme Court of Appeals stuck by the state’s cap for medical liability non-economic damages in its June 22 decision on a case filed against City Hospital. James D. MacDonald and his wife Debbie filed the suit in February after James had undergone treatment at City Hospital. A Supreme Court document states that MacDonald developed “severe muscle damage,” or rhabdomyolysis, after he was given a combination of drugs during his stay at the hospital. The suit alleged that the doctor shouldn’t have given MacDonald these drugs because of his medical history. A Berkeley County jury ruled in favor of the MacDonalds recommending a $1.5 million award for their non-economic damages. Non-economic damages refer to emotional distress or pain and suffering. These do not deal with physical damages, hence the term “non-economic” damages. West Virginia Code provides a limit of $250,000 on non-economic loss in medical lawsuits. This is extended to $500,000 in severe cases such as wrongful death or permanent physical deformities such as a loss of limb, the document states. For this reason, the court reduced this amount to $500,000. The document states that MacDonald suffered a “permanent and substantial” physical deformity, which is why he was…

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