Archives: February 2020

February 2020 Newsletter

The year ahead for patients and physicians Advocating for physicians in over 60 active lawsuits, the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies has a busy year ahead in support of access to care. Brian D. Vandenberg, senior vice president and general counsel at the American Medical Association (AMA), recently outlined the priorities for 2020 in an interview with American Medical News. On the docket for the AMA is the rise in hybrid medical liability lawsuits. Vandenberg explains, “Hybrid liability suits attempt to disregard medical malpractice liability caps by conflating distinct legal theories—an end-run around legislative tort reform.” Vandenberg highlights these attempts as “disingenuous” ways to overcome limits on noneconomic damages. “We’ll continue to advocate for meaningful tort reform, and will continue to challenge and file amicus briefs in abusive hybrid lawsuits.” He also emphasized the importance of protecting the patient-physician relationship and the continued ability for open and honest discussions about health care recommendations. When asked about what was at stake in several of their key legal priorities in 2020, Vandenberg answered, “Access and trust. It’s really that simple.” To read the full interview on how the Litigation Center is playing a role in support of ensuring…

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New Texas doctors set record for state’s physician-to-patient ratio

SOURCE: KXAN News AUSTIN (Nexstar) — If you’re looking for a doctor in Texas, it seems you’re in luck. Texas’ physician workforce is expanding at a record-setting pace, according to the Texas Medical Association. The ratio of patient-care physicians for every 100,000 people has increased every year for a decade, new data revealed. The association reported the state’s number of newly licensed physicians bumped up 7.9% last year. Texas added 4,869 new doctors in 2019, which is 355 higher than the 2018 total of 4,514. Based on the new data, there are now nearly 190 physicians for every 100,000 Texans. “Texas is doing a great job of welcoming new physicians and making it a good environment to practice medicine and take care of people in,” said Dr. David Murdy, of Baylor Scott and White Health’s Lakeway clinic. Murdy moved to Texas in 2018 from Wisconsin. The doctor growth in Texas was spurred in 2003 by legislation that changed liability regulations, making it less likely for lawsuits against physicians and hospitals to be sued by patients. That enabling legislation was House Bill 4, the Medical Malpractice and Tort Reform Act, paired with constitutional amendment Proposition 12. Dr. Stanley Wang, a cardiologist…

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Venue back on the menu? Proposed rule change could shift the landscape of medical malpractice in the Commonwealth

SOURCE: JD SUPRA Change may be coming soon to Pennsylvania’s medical malpractice venue rule (Rule 1006(a.1))—a change that could send medical malpractice filings in Philadelphia skyrocketing. Last week, the Legislative Budget and Finance Committee (the “Legislative Committee”) released a report on the potential impact of eliminating the medical malpractice venue rule, which has renewed debate on the issue of where medical malpractice patients should be allowed to file. The current rule, adopted in 2003, requires plaintiffs to file malpractice actions in the county where their injury occurred, unless that injury occurred outside the Commonwealth. By eliminating the rule, plaintiffs could file in any county where the defendant resides or regularly conducts business. In an age of ever-increasing consolidation in the health care services market, this change would allow more plaintiffs than ever to file in Philadelphia, where medical malpractice plaintiffs have a much higher rate of success. The move to eliminate the medical malpractice venue rule dates back to December 2018 when the Supreme Court’s Civil Procedure Rules Committee (“Rules Committee”) determined that the rule “no longer appears warranted.” However, the Rules Committee delayed its plans so that the Senate could study the potential impact of the proposed change. Released…

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Senators advance $250K cap in medical malpractice cases

SOURCE: Knoxville Journal Express Representatives of Iowa’s medical community blamed soaring awards in medical malpractice cases for the erosion of health-care access in rural Iowa Monday. They were arguing for legislation to put a $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in lawsuits that arise from medical errors. But lawyers who litigate medical malpractice cases say claims against insurance carriers are low in Iowa and the legislation would make it impossible for injured Iowans to even try their case. The two Republicans on a Senate subcommittee advanced Senate Study Bill 3150. Current law limits noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering or loss of consortium to $250,000 unless the jury finds there is a substantial or permanent loss or impairment of a bodily function; substantial disfigurement; or death. The legislation would eliminate a jury’s ability to award more than $250,000 for noneconomic damages, regardless of the severity of the injury. Dr. Tiffani Milless of Iowa Pathology Associates said she has seen her medical malpractice premiums increase and she has had to increase her insurance coverage because of a legal climate that results in high awards. She said her main concern was the effect on access to care and the ability to recruit…

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What legal challenges will affect patients and physicians in 2020?

SOURCE: American Medical Association The AMA and the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies are poised for another busy year of being the voice of America’s medical profession in state and federal courts. Through lawsuits, amicus briefs and other efforts, the AMA and the AMA Litigation Center pursue cases that are important to physicians and their patients. Brian D. Vandenberg, senior vice president and general counsel at the AMA, recently talked about what’s ahead in the legal arena this year. Tanya Albert Henry: As we head into 2020, what do you see as the biggest medicolegal trends that physicians should keep their eyes on? Brian Vandenberg: Physicians are increasingly burdened by third-party interference with the practice of medicine and patient care—by the government and by insurance companies. Government efforts to use physicians as mouthpieces to advance political agendas—under the guise of informed consent—will continue to be challenged in the courts as violations of physician-patient free speech. And, I believe, interference in the form of prior authorization, step therapy and coverage denial will face increasing legal scrutiny. I also expect that issues impacting access to care will trend in 2020. Henry: Are these a continuation of what…

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