Archives: October 2013

October 2013 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 8, Issue 10 October 2013 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: PA OK’s I’m Sorry Law Judge Rejects Defendant Access to Communications in Liability Cases Top Concern for New Hampshire Physicians: Medical Liability PA OK’s I’m Sorry Law With the federal government mired in dysfunction for most of the month of October, it was up to the states to take any possible actions advancing medical liability reforms, and Pennsylvania took a big step in allowing physicians to make apologetic and benevolent gestures to patients without facing the threat of a liability lawsuit. The state Legislature was able to strike a balance between the natural emotions of physicians and unintended medical outcomes, and passed a law that allows doctors to apologize without fear that their expressions would be used against them. Dr. Richard Shott, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society, said in support of the law, “Medicine is not an exact science, and outcomes can be unpredictable. Benevolent gestures are always appropriate, and physicians should not have to fear giving them.” The law was written to ensure that it preserves patients’ rights while permitting doctors to apologize without worrying that it would be used as evidence of negligence in…

Read More

ACA Could Pose Unintentional Legal Dangers for Physicians

Federal quality metrics – integrated into the Affordable Care Act to improve and standardize care – are posing unintended legal risks for physicians, medical malpractice experts noted. “The Affordable Care Act itself doesn’t identify medical malpractice issues,” according to Aldo Leiva, a health law attorney in Coral Gables, Fla. “The concern that has arisen has been whether or not the content or language in the [ACA] can be used by plaintiffs’ lawyers against doctors by creating an additional standard of care.” Attorneys and insurers already are hearing reports of federal reimbursement decisions being introduced into medical malpractice cases. In such instances, lawyers use federal payment denials to bolster their claims of negligence, according to Mike Stinson, director of government relations for PIAA, a national trade association representing medical liability insurers. Hospital readmission standards are one such federal quality measurement that could unfairly impact doctors in court, said Brian K. Atchinson, PIAA president and CEO. The ACA reduces payments to hospitals considered to have excessive readmissions. “The mere fact that there will be many thousands of people that will be readmitted to a hospital within 30 days, that should not be evidence of inadequate care,” Mr. Atchinson said. Penalties regarding hospital-acquired…

Read More

House Passes Health Care Apology Bill

Governor is expected to sign bill that keeps statements of concern out of court. There may be a good reason patients sometimes feel they get the cold shoulder from their doctors after being injured in a medical setting. The physicians may be afraid that even the slightest expression of concern or sympathy for the patient’s pain might be used against them in court. That fear could be alleviated in a bill Gov. Tom Corbett is expected to sign Wednesday after it passed the state House of Representatives on Tuesday. The “benevolent gesture” legislation would allow doctors to offer words of apology, condolence, explanation, compassion or commiseration to patients without fear of their words coming back to haunt them in court. The House passed the bill 202-0. The Senate approved the measure unanimously in June. “Medicine is not an exact science, and outcomes may be unpredictable. Benevolent gestures are always appropriate and physicians should not have to fear giving them,” said Dr. C. Richard Schott, president of the Pennsylvania Medical Society. With passage of the bill, “doctors will feel more comfortable doing so, knowing that an apology is inadmissible unless their expression admits fault.” The bill, which is part of Corbett’s…

Read More

Malpractice issues a top concern of physicians

Data also shows worries about ACA Malpractice issues and tort reform should be the top priority of the N.H. Medical Society, according to a survey of the state’s physicians. The University of New Hampshire Survey Center conducted a physician survey on behalf of the N.H. Medical Society earlier this year. Of 2,965 surveys sent to members and non-members of the society, 588 physicians responded. By the Numbers: 588: Physicians (of 2,965) who responded to a survey for the N.H. Medical Society 74: Percentage of physicians who strongly support malpractice issues/tort reform 72: Percentage who strongly support improving access to mental health services 37: Percentage who strongly support Medicaid expansion 17: Percentage who support Medicaid Managed Care 14: Percentage The NHMS’s mission is to represent the medical profession as an advocate to better public health in the state. Respondents largely indicated the group should focus on malpractice issues and tort reform, closely followed by improving access to mental health services. According to the American Tort Reform Association, tort lawsuits compromise access to affordable health care and raise the cost of goods and services. ATRA says America’s $246 billion civil justice system is the most expensive in the industrialized world. Groups like…

Read More

Florida’s Medical Malpractice Fight Going to Appeals Court

The latest round in Florida’s long-running legal and political fight about medical malpractice is headed to a federal appeals court. Just days after a federal judge rejected part of a new malpractice law backed by doctors, the defendant in the case gave notice Monday that he will challenge the ruling in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in Atlanta. On its face, the parties in the case are the defendant, Madison physician Adolfo C. Dulay, and a former patient, Glen Murphy, who alleges he was injured by medical negligence. But the case is somewhat akin to a proxy battle for groups such as the Florida Medical Association and the Florida Justice Association that have been at odds for years about changes in the malpractice system. U.S. District Judge Robert Hinkle last Wednesday found that a key part of the law, passed by state lawmakers this spring and signed by Gov. Rick Scott, was invalid because it conflicted with federal requirements aimed at protecting the confidentiality of patient information. Meanwhile, at least three other cases involving similar issues are pending in courts in South Florida and the Panhandle — all filed immediately after the new law took effect July 1….

Read More