Archives: November 2018

November 2018 Newsletter

Arkansas court ruling prevents counting medical liability votes Progress on liability reform in Arkansas hit a snag this fall, as a court ruling ahead of November elections hurt efforts for reforms to move forward. Medical liability reforms championed by Arkansas for Jobs and Justice, including limits on attorneys fees and reasonable caps on non-economic damages, were slated to appear on the November ballot as Issue 1. Initial circuit court challenges to the legitimacy of the ballot question due to the state’s single-subject test were appealed, but ultimately upheld by the state Supreme Court. Although the question still appeared on the ballot, the vote totals were not counted. While vote counts for some counties were released under a Freedom of Information Act request, Carl Vogelphol, campaign manager for Issue 1 proponent Arkansans for Jobs and Justice, said it was hard to know if the issue would have passed or not, but that “we were seeing internal data when the electorate was educated they would’ve voted for it.” To read more about the setback for Arkansas access to care, click here. Kentucky courts remove checks on liability lawsuit merits Legislation passed in 2017 that put in place a plan to ensure the…

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Cardiology malpractice suits up 91% from a decade ago

SOURCE: Cardiovascular Business – https://www.cardiovascularbusiness.com/topics/healthcare-economics/cardiology-malpractice-suits-91-2006 Rates of malpractice lawsuits in cardiology have followed a slow upward trajectory for the past decade and are continuing to climb, according to a review of more than 1,500 liability claims published in the American Journal of Cardiology this week. Frances Wang, MS, and Sandeep K. Krishnan, MD, conducted an analysis of 1,538 cardiology malpractice claims filed between 2006 and 2015 in an effort to characterize current malpractice trends and common sources of patient injury in the field. With the rise of “defensive medicine”—the idea that physicians treat their patients to avoid liability suits rather than provide the most beneficial care—the authors said the quality of healthcare in the U.S. is declining. Wang and Krishnan said defensive medicine is likely a driver behind the steady growth in average physician malpractice payments in recent years, which has followed the national trend of rising healthcare costs. “With increasing healthcare costs and the high cost of spending driven by defensive medicine, shedding light on recent litigation trends is critical for understanding current tort patterns, especially in the field of cardiology, a specialty with higher rates of malpractice suits than average,” the authors wrote in AJC. “Understanding the characteristics…

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Kentucky Supreme Court strikes down medical review panels, upholds ‘right-to-work’ law

SOURCE: Insider Louisville – https://insiderlouisville.com/government/state/kentucky-supreme-court-strikes-down-medical-review-panels-upholds-right-to-work-law/ The Kentucky Supreme Court Thursday issued opinions striking down the law creating medical review panels for medical malpractice lawsuits in the state and upholding the so-called “right-to-work” law that prohibits requiring employees to pay union dues. The court, however, did not release its much-anticipated ruling on whether the controversial public pension bill passed by the state legislature this year is constitutional. That law is currently blocked from going into effect, as Franklin Circuit Judge Phillip Shepherd sided with Attorney General Andy Beshear and unions for teachers and police officers by ruling that the bill was passed in a manner that violated the constitution and state law. The Supreme Court unanimously affirmed Judge Shepherd’s opinion on the medical review panel bill, though three different opinions were written by the justices. The bill, passed in 2017, mandated that medical review panels issue opinions on the merits of a medical malpractice complaint before that claimant can file such a lawsuit. As Shepherd had ruled, the court affirmed that the bill was unconstitutional because it would delay citizens’ access to the courts of the state for the adjudication of common-law claims. The opinion striking down the medical review panel…

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Logan County voters opposed Issue 1

SOURCE: Booneville Democrat – http://www.boonevilledemocrat.com/news/20181121/logan-county-voters-opposed-issue-1 Although they were not counted because of an Arkansas Supreme Court ruling, a majority of voters in west central Arkansas, including Logan County voted against Issue 1 in the Nov. 6 midterm election. According to results released upon request from the Times Record and Arkansas Freedom of Information Act requests by Fort Smith attorney Joey McCutchen, the tort-reform measure that was deemed unconstitutional after being referred by the Arkansas Legislature would have failed in Crawford, Franklin, Johnson, Scott and Sebastian counties, as well as Logan. Results were not available from Polk County. Logan County Clerk Peggy Fitzgerald recorded 2,636 votes against Issue 1 and 2,009 for, according to McCutchen’s FOIA request. Fitzgerald told the Times Record Tuesday the votes were not tabulated because of the court order. Both opponents and proponents of Issue 1 wanted the votes counted to settle the issue that had been mired in controversy. A lawsuit challenged the issue as unconstitutional because it did not pass the “single subject” rule. A circuit judge rule in favor of it and ordered the Secretary of State’s Office to not count the votes. The state Supreme Court upheld the ruling after proponents appealed the…

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