Archives: January 2018

January 2018 Newsletter

Medical organizations paving the way for Senate consideration of liability reform Following House passage of comprehensive medical liability reform in 2017, medical organizations representing patients and physicians, including the HCLA, have taken a leading role in aiming their efforts at Senate consideration of the legislation. With a goal of reducing medical lawsuit abuse and enacting federal reforms that eliminate inconsistent and ever-changing state liability laws, specialty physician organizations and health care coalitions have emphasized the need to move forward on reform. Citing a need to compensate those patients who are truly the victims of medical negligence, American Association of Family Practitioners president Michael Munger, MD emphasized that reform is needed because “too much money is diverted from patient care to liability insurance premiums and the legal fees that are part of a lawsuit.” The bill under consideration relies on a history of success among states with the climate to enact such positive reforms. “This legislation adopts many of the reforms which have been thoroughly tested in the states and which have proven successful in improving the medical liability climate in those states,” stated the American College of Gynecologists and Obstetricians. The American Association of Neurological Surgeons, also an HCLA member,…

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AMA Studies Show Continued Cost Burden of Medical Liability System

The American Medical Association (AMA) today released a new series of trend reports in its Policy Research Perspective series illustrating the price Americans pay for the nation’s broken medical liability system. “Information in this new research paints a bleak picture of physicians’ experiences with medical liability claims and the associated cost burdens on the health system,” said AMA President David O. Barbe, M.D., M.H.A. “The reports validate the fact that preserving quality and access in medicine, while reducing cost, requires fairness in the civil justice system. Every dollar spent on the broken medical liability system is a dollar that cannot be used to improve patient care.” The first report analyzes medical liability claims frequency among patient care physicians in the U.S. and finds that getting sued is virtually a matter of when, not if, for physicians. Highlights in the report include: Getting sued is not an uncommon event for physicians. More than a third of physicians (34 percent) have had a claim filed against them at some point in their careers. Because older physicians have been in practice for a longer time and thus have had more exposure, the probability of getting sued increases with age. Nearly half (49.2 percent) of physicians…

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N.D. law limiting damages in malpractice cases ruled unconstitutional

A judge has found a North Dakota law limiting damages in medical malpractice cases to be unconstitutional. In a case involving a woman who was disabled due to a surgery at CHI St. Alexius Health, South Central Judicial District Judge Cynthia Feland denied a motion from the hospital to reduce a jury’s verdict. A jury last April awarded Chenille Condon, 35, of Fort Yates, $3.5 million after finding cardiac and thoracic surgeon Dr. Allen Michael Booth negligently performed a surgery on Condon that caused a serious stroke in 2012. The jury decided Condon deserved $2 million for economic losses, such as medical expenses and lost earnings, and $1.5 million for noneconomic damages, including pain, suffering, physical impairment and emotional distress. The hospital sought to reduce the award for nonecomonic damages by $1 million under a state law that limits such damages to $500,000. Feland ruled the 1995 law is unconstitutional, violating equal protection guaranteed by the North Dakota constitution by arbitrarily reducing damages for people who suffer the most severe injuries. “It was a courageous decision by Judge Feland and the correct one,” Condon’s attorney, Tom Conlin, said Tuesday. “It’s a victory for the people of the state and for…

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