Archives: August 2014

August 2014 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 9, Issue 8 August 2014 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Case in Point: Liability System Requires Reform Coalition to Protect Patients in California Launches Radio, TV Ads Two Steps Forward, One Step Back Future of Florida’s Liability System Remains Uncertain Case in Point: Liability System Requires Reform A Las Vegas physician took to the editorial pages of papers across the country this month, making a case for reform of a system that operates as a random roulette with odds that are not in the deserving patient’s favor. Dr. Sean Dow writes, “The system is inefficient, costly and plagued with abuse, often punishing providers who have done no wrong. The consequences are an adversarial environment with reduced and delayed payments (five years is not uncommon), an increase in the cost of medicine, defensive medicine (unnecessary care which is burdensome to scarce resources), and decreased access to health care, especially in fields such as pediatrics, obstetrics, and neurosurgery, where annual malpractice premiums can reach $200,000.” With thousands of cases filed, most never make it to trial, but still cause physicians the distress of drawn out litigation and the expense of nearly $50,000 in legal fees – even when no…

Read More

Numbers are down, but Phila. is still a haven for medical malpractice suits

After all the hand-wringing and anguish over out-of- state firms flocking to file lawsuits in Philadelphia – the law firms you see advertising on late-night television – is Philadelphia still the notorious plaintiffs’ paradise of common lore? It all depends on your idea of civil litigation bliss. A look at medical malpractice awards is revealing. There is no question: Philadelphia remains the most favorable jurisdiction in Pennsylvania for lawyers seeking big payoffs, a maddening fact to the many physicians and hospitals here. And new data compiled by the Pennsylvania Supreme Court make that point incontrovertibly. Although Philadelphia accounts for only 12 percent of the state’s population, 40 percent of medical malpractice trials resulting in verdicts in 2013 took place in the city. Not only are a disproportionate number of cases tried here, but the odds are better for plaintiffs. Philadelphia plaintiffs won 45 percent of cases tried to verdict in 2013, more than any other jurisdiction. In Bucks County, there were only four medical malpractice cases resulting in verdicts, and the plaintiffs won none. In Montgomery, the results were better for plaintiffs; 19 percent of cases went their way, but here again they trailed Philadelphia significantly. In more than half…

Read More

Malpractice Caps in Flux in Florida

Less than 4 months after the Florida Supreme Court struck down the state’s wrongful death non-economic damages cap, the fate of the state’s personal injury medical malpractice award limit may also be in jeopardy. The state’s highest court heard oral arguments in June regarding Myles et al. v. Weingrad, an injury malpractice case that focuses on whether Florida’s $500,000 medical malpractice noneconomic damages cap can be applied retroactively. However, after the court in March ruled that the state’s wrongful death cap was unconstitutional, the plaintiffs in Weingrad now argue the injury limit should be thrown out on constitutional grounds. The personal injury malpractice cap is indeed in danger of being overturned, said Jeff Scott, general counsel for the Florida Medical Association. The FMA is not directly involved in the case. “Given the track record of the (Florida) Supreme Court, one would have to conclude the likelihood of a favorable opinion is slim,” Mr. Scott said in an interview. The case stems from leg surgery performed on Kimberly Ann Miles by Aventura, Fla.–based surgeon Dr. Daniel Weingrad. Ms. Miles claimed the surgery to remove residual melanoma was unnecessary and resulted in ongoing pain. A jury awarded Ms. Miles and her husband…

Read More

A Case for Malpractice Reform

The medical malpractice process was designed to allow fair and just compensation when a patient is harmed through negligent health care; it is an important part of our health care system. Ideally, it would function smoothly, bringing prompt justice to those who have been wronged. Unfortunately, that is not the case. The system is inefficient, costly and plagued with abuse, often punishing providers who have done no wrong. The consequences are an adversarial environment with reduced and delayed payments (five years is not uncommon), an increase in the cost of medicine, defensive medicine (unnecessary care which is burdensome to scarce resources), and decreased access to health care, especially in fields such as pediatrics, obstetrics, and neurosurgery, where annual malpractice premiums can reach $200,000. In an ideal world, patients should have ready access to compensation when malpractice has been committed, but the current system functions more like a lottery. Thousands of cases are filed, in hopes the practitioner will settle to avoid going to court. Most of these cases never reach the jury, but still cause harm to the system. Of the cases that do reach the court, most are found in favor of the defendant, but vindication comes at great…

Read More