Archives: April 2016

April 2016 Newsletter

Illinois’ Court Set to Rule on Liability Limitations Under fire in the state of Illinois are the statute of limitations for medical liability lawsuits, with the possibility that they could be extended and leave physicians indefinitely vulnerable to medical lawsuit abuse. Currently in Illinois, wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, but a recent lawsuit is arguing that the limitation period should begin from the time of discovery. After a trial court dismissed the original lawsuit on the grounds that the statute of limitations had expired, an appellate court upheld the dismissal on the grounds that no “discovery exemption” existed within the statute of limitations. Now, the case has moved to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the American Medical Association, together with state medical societies, has filed an amicus brief urging the court to retain the existing statute of limitations. “The General Assembly intended to provide the citizens of this state with a limitations period fair to both plaintiffs and defendants,” the brief said. “It balances the need for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits with the defendants’ need to know when their potential liability is extinguished.” Without such a defined period, physicians face uncertain future threats of…

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Illinois’ Court Set to Rule on Liability Limitations

Under fire in the state of Illinois are the statute of limitations for medical liability lawsuits, with the possibility that they could be extended and leave physicians indefinitely vulnerable to medical lawsuit abuse. Currently in Illinois, wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, but a recent lawsuit is arguing that the limitation period should begin from the time of discovery. When a trial court upheld dismissing the lawsuit on those grounds, an appellate court agreed with the dismissal but was split in its decision. Now, the case has moved to the Illinois Supreme Court, and the American Medical Association, together with state medical societies, has filed an amicus brief urging the court to retain the existing statute of limitations. “The General Assembly intended to provide the citizens of this state with a limitations period fair to both plaintiffs and defendants,” the brief said. “It balances the need for plaintiffs to bring lawsuits with the defendants’ need to know when their potential liability is extinguished.” Without such a defined period, physicians face uncertain future threats of medical liability lawsuits, and families of true victims will face a less expeditious closing of legitimate claims.

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AG approves ballot bid on lawsuits

Supporters of a proposed constitutional amendment to restrict the size of jury verdicts against medical care providers cleared a hurdle Wednesday in their effort to get the proposal on the November ballot. On Wednesday, Arkansas Attorney General Leslie Rutledge approved the name and title of a proposed amendment that would limit trial attorneys to one-third of any damages won in suits against care providers. It also would require the General Assembly to enact legislation that would set a minimum limit of $250,000 in “non-economic” damages, such as pain and suffering, that could be awarded in a suit. Originally named the “Lawsuit Reform Amendment of 2016,” Rutledge wrote in her opinion that the name was too “partisan” and replaced it with “An Amendment to Limit Attorney Contingency Fees and Non-Economic Damages in Medical Lawsuits.” To get a proposed constitutional amendment on the November ballot, supporters will have to get nearly 82,000 signatures on petitions across the state. On Wednesday, one of the backers of the measure, Chase Dugger, sent out an announcement saying that the measure, if approved by voters, would put the state in league with other states with similar restrictions and would lower health care costs in Arkansas. “[Passage]…

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Court case could extend medical liability

A state supreme court is set to decide whether the two-year statute of limitations for filing a wrongful death lawsuit should start, as it does now, from the time of death or from the moment the plaintiff learns of the circumstances that may have contributed to or caused death. The distinction is the difference between a finite period in which liability claims can be filed and an undetermined longer period. What happened At stake in Moon v. Rhode is whether a complaint brought against a radiologist in a wrongful death lawsuit was filed within the two-year timeline allowed under the Illinois statute of limitations. After complications following surgery at Proctor Hospital in Peoria, Ill., Kathryn Moon died on May 29, 2009. In Feb. 2013, Moon’s estate sent CT radiographs to a diagnostic radiologist who concluded that Clarissa Rhode, MD, had negligently misread the scans which caused or contributed to Moon’s death. Moon’s estate sued Dr. Rhode and her employer in a wrongful death action on March 18, 2013. Relying on Illinois’ Wrongful Death Act, which provides that wrongful death suits must be filed within two years of death, the defendants moved to dismiss. The estate, however, argued that the limitation period should…

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Study ranks Texas 6th best state for docs, expert points to tort reform

A recent study found Texas is one of the best states for physicians to practice medicine, a high ranking made possible in part due to the passage of tort reform measures in 2003, says one expert. In late March, WalletHubb released its “2016’s Best & Worst States for Doctors,” a list ranking Texas as the sixth best state. When asked if he agreed with the ranking, Jon Opelt, executive director for Texas Alliance for Patient Access, said Texas is widely regarded as one of the most desirable states in which to practice medicine. “Texas’ medical liability laws are considered the gold-standard by which all state liability laws are measured,” Opelt said. “Our landmark reforms have been a huge boon to keeping and attracting physicians to care for more Texas patients.” Before the passage of reforms, more than two-thirds of the state’s trauma service areas were experiencing a per capita loss in patient care physicians. Soon after the passage of reforms, the trend was reversed, Opelt said. From a physician’s annual wage to malpractice liability insurance rates, the study included several elements in its scoring of states. WalletHubb also considered medical malpractice award payouts in civil lawsuits. Texas’ med-mal cap for…

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