Archives: August 2016

August 2016 Newsletter

Florida lawsuit challenges timely resolution of claims A challenge has been mounted in Florida that could threaten the ability of patients and physicians to resolve medical liability lawsuits in a timely manner. Being considered by the Florida Supreme Court is a case, ruled valid by a trial court and the Florida First District Court of Appeals, that seeks to scale back the requirement that a plaintiff authorize the release of relevant health information as a condition of bringing forward a lawsuit. When passed in 2013, the amendment to the Florida Medical Liability Act was supported by defendants and claimants as a way to eliminate frivolous lawsuits and move forward more quickly towards a resolution for those with merit. It allows for a more informal process of gathering information ahead of a trial, due to the fact that a formal deposition can lead to physicians spending more time in the courtroom – and more time away from patients in the exam room. Writing an amicus brief in support of the law as it stands is the Litigation Center of the AMA and State Medical Societies. “If the right to this informal discovery is removed,” the brief said, “the result will be…

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Government Policies May Drive Doctor Shortages in Unhealthiest States

State medical boards, government-protected monopolies, and jackpot juries could be keeping doctors out of Arkansas and Mississippi. Two of the country’s unhealthiest populations live in states experiencing extreme doctor shortages, according to reports by two organizations ranking patient health and patient care among the states. The United States will have a shortage of 94,700 physicians by 2025, an analysis conducted by the Association of American Medical Colleges (AAMC) found in May 2016. The dearth of health care providers is most prominent in rural states with widely dispersed populations, such as in many parts of the Southeast, according to the 2015 State Physician Workforce Databook, an AAMC study. Mississippi has the nation’s lowest ratio of doctors to population, at 184.7 per 100,000 people, the study found. Arkansas is fifth from the bottom, at 198.1 per 100,000 people. Mississippi and Arkansas are the 49th and 48th healthiest states, respectively, among a cluster of Southeastern states ranked among the least healthy by the United Health Foundation’s 2015 America’s Health Rankings Annual Report. Others are Louisiana (50), Alabama (46), Kentucky (44), Tennessee (43), and South Carolina (42). State Board May Squash Growth Jameson Taylor, vice president for policy at the Mississippi Center for Public…

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Q&A: Physicians regard legal system as broken, says Doctors Co. CEO

Dr. Richard Anderson, CEO of the Doctors Co., a physician-owned medical malpractice insurer, was named chairman of PIAA, the insurance industry trade association that represents medical professional liability insurance companies and risk retention groups. The former Scripps Memorial Hospital senior oncologist talked recently with Modern Healthcare reporter Lisa Schencker about the challenges facing medical liability insurers and doctors amid increasing provider consolidation. This is an edited transcript. Modern Healthcare: In May, you were named chairman of PIAA. What will your priorities be in that role? Dr. Richard Anderson: One of the most important priorities that is useful, both in terms of the context of professional liability and also constraint of healthcare costs, is taking full advantage of the Affordable Care Act to reduce the cost of professional liability coverage. The mechanism for doing that is through the use of the ACA to calculate the value of future medical benefits. So, instead of having these inflated costs of tens of millions of dollars of future medical costs that plaintiff lawyers are so fond of pleading in malpractice litigation, we strongly believe that the appropriate benchmark for the cost of future medical care is the cost of future healthcare insurance as provided…

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Challenge to medical liability law could complicate pre-suit process

A medical liability case, even if successful, can cause financial, emotional and reputational harm to a physician—and also to the patient who brings the suit. A 2013 amendment to the Florida Medical Liability Act, which requires the plaintiff to release relevant health information to determine whether a claim for medical liability is meritorious, is under threat in the Florida Supreme Court. At stake in Weaver v. Myers is whether the Florida Medical Malpractice Act, which requires the plaintiff to authorize the release of otherwise confidential health information as a condition of bringing a lawsuit for medical liability, is valid. Both a trial court and the Florida First District Court of Appeals confirmed the amendment’s validity. Florida’s pre-suit investigation process was intended to allow both claimants and potential defendants the opportunity to determine whether a medical liability claim has merit and to encourage early resolution of claims between the parties. This process can avoid costly and time-consuming proceedings through a less complicated pre-suit process that allows both parties to examine the evidence. What happened Emma Weaver, widow and representative of Thomas C. Weaver, sued her late husband’s physician, Stephen C. Myers, MD, for medical liability. However, she did not want to…

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