Category Archives: Arkansas

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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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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September 2018 Newsletter

Texas hold ‘em: 15 years since reform In the 15 years since comprehensive medical liability reforms were enacted, Texas has held on to physicians – and held off those seeking to return to a time when patient access to care was at risk. Initially enacted in 2003, liability reforms have resulted in an influx of physicians, benefiting rural residents across the state. “Texas’ medical liability reforms have been nationally considered the gold standard for medical liability legislation,” said Governor Greg Abbott. “Tort reform has significantly reduced lawsuits and liability costs in our state and contributed greatly to the increasing number of doctors practicing in Texas.” Women’s health care services have also improved, with Texas Alliance for Patient Access (TAPA) Chairman, Dr. Howard Marcus, confirming that Texas has added more obstetricians than any state in the nation. “Because of the tort reform measures passed by the Texas Legislature in 2003, the number of Texas primary care, high-risk, and total physicians have expanded at a rate greater than population growth,” Dr. Marcus said. To read more about the work of TAPA and the 15-year liability reform milestone, click here. A physician’s perspective on jackpot justice A spine surgeon and editor-in-chief of AAOS…

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Appeal filed to count Issue 1 votes on Arkansas ballot

SOURCE: Times Record – http://www.swtimes.com/news/20180911/appeal-filed-to-count-issue-1-votes-on-arkansas-ballot A notice of appeal was filed Friday with the Arkansas Supreme Court by Arkansans for Jobs and Justice to have Issue 1 votes counted in the November ballot. Pulaski County Circuit Judge Mackie M. Pierce issued an order Thursday that called Issue 1 “unconstitutional,” arguing it doesn’t meet the single-subject test and it is “unclear” if all parts of the Arkansas Legislature-referred constitutional amendment are reasonably germane to each other. Pierce uses the opinion drawn out by the state Supreme Court in 2011 with Forrester v. Martin to argue Issue 1 does not meet the single-subject requirement on constitutional amendments. The order directs Arkansas Secretary of State Mark Martin to refrain from counting, canvassing, or certifying any votes for or against Issue 1 in the Nov. 6 general election. Issue 1, the judge decided, has four sections that deal with both caps on lawsuits and “taking of power from the judiciary” to control the Legislature’s rules. “What is the general subject of Issue No. 1?” Pierce writes. “Is it the taking, or reallocation of power from the judiciary and vesting it in the Legislature? Is it the courts and the judiciary? Is is about the…

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June 2018 Newsletter

Liability reform empowers physicians to avoid defensive medicine While evidence strongly suggests that the potential for liability lawsuits results in treatments and tests that may not be otherwise necessary, new data shows that medical liability reform may be empowering physicians to go on the offensive together with their patients. A newly published analysis compared diagnosis and treatment patterns in patients suspected of having coronary artery disease between states where liability reforms have been adopted and states without non-economic damage limits in place. The study included 36,647 physicians in nine states with reasonable limits adopted between 2003 and 2005, and 39,154 in states that had not taken any action to utilize limits on non-economic damages to rein in lawsuits. Physicians in states with reasonable liability limits were less prone to rely on angiography as a first diagnostic test and more likely to order noninvasive stress testing, the report found. In addition, fewer patients were referred for angiography following initial stress testing. These physicians also performed fewer percutaneous coronary intervention (PCI) procedures after ischemic evaluation, with indications that these patients were offered medical therapy as an alternative. “Our study suggests that physicians who face lower malpractice risk may be less concerned with…

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Op-ed urges Arkansans to make informed choices on liability ballot measure

In 1987 I had a baby girl in Houston, Texas. She was born a month early, and despite complications, she was delivered at a little over five pounds. We were lucky at that time because we lived in Houston, home of one of the greatest medical centers in the world. But Texas had a problem. Texas had a doctor shortage, especially in high-risk services such as labor and delivery, neurosurgery and trauma. More than 150 counties had no local obstetrics care, and services were sometimes more than 100 miles away. Physicians were leaving Texas for states that were less litigious or they were quitting medical practice altogether. By 2003 the exodus of doctors was such a crisis the state of Texas initiated, and passed, tort reform to rein in the cost of practicing medicine. The landmark reforms created an almost immediate turnaround, starting with pediatric subspecialties increasing 300 percent in the following 10 years. Emergency doctors in rural areas increased 64 percent, more than 10 times the growth in those areas. Thirty-five rural counties added at least one OB-GYN, almost half of which never had one. You can find similar stories in more than 30 states that have implemented tort…

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April 2018 Newsletter

Improving patient care by removing threat of lawsuits In an effort to better understand the impact that medical lawsuit abuse has on health care providers, a recent study granted immunity from liability lawsuits to practicing physicians – and studied the after affects. Over the course of six years, 900 clinically active employed physicians at Jackson Memorial Hospital, part of the University of Miami, could be deemed agents of JMH and received the protections of sovereign immunity when they were providing medical care at a JMH facility. Not only was there no negative impact on patient safety, but the number of harmful events decreased by 13 percent over a four-year period. “This study suggests that without the threat of malpractice lawsuits, physicians are still committed to delivering the safest, highest quality patient care possible,” said Dr. David A. Lubarsky, chief medical and systems integration officer at the University of Miami Health System and the study’s lead author. The immunity offered physicians an opportunity to treat patients without the threat of liability lawsuits, reducing the incentive to practice defensive medicine. “An effective liability system should offer incentives to institutions that adopt safer systems,” Dr. Lubarsky said, citing better patient data sharing, education,…

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Legal reform advocates point to medical malpractice figures in New York, Pennsylvania

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – Experts who have watched medical malpractice lawsuits skyrocket in states like New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey say lawmakers have made it too easy and attractive to sue and reform must happen. “New Yorkers once again pay more for medical liability than anywhere in America,” Tom Stebbins, executive director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York told Legal Newsline. “Sadly, Albany recently made matters worse by approving legislation that expands liability and makes it easier to file lawsuits.” The “2018 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis” released March 1 by Diederich Health Care, a medical liability insurance and consulting company based in Carbondale, Illinois, includes figures comparing medical malpractice rates among states. Among Northeast states, New York topped the list for the most malpractice cases with a total approximate $617,973,000 in payouts with Pennsylvania second at $342,093,300, and New Jersey third with $267,913,250. The lowest in the Northeast were the District of Columbia with $11,498,500, Delaware with $8,253,250 and Vermont at the bottom with $1,536,500. Among Midwestern states, Illinois was far in the lead with $300,790,050 in payouts with Michigan second at $77,072,200. The lowest Midwestern states were Wisconsin at $13,527,100, North Dakota with $3,505,000 and…

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October 2017 Newsletter

Oklahoma Supreme Court ruling could lead to medical lawsuit abuse Patients and physicians in Oklahoma could face a deteriorating liability climate in the coming years, as the state Supreme Court recently ruled against an effective liability reform. This setback to accessible and affordable care is the third time the Supreme Court has ruled against a certificate of merit requirement, following several revisions to past legislation which had also been invalidated by the Court. The latest version of the reforms included expanding the scope of expert witness affidavits to include all civil negligence actions which required testimony by an expert, following previous rulings that the law put a higher burden on victims of professional negligence than victims of general negligence. “We believe the certificate of merit has been an important legal reform that helped prevent baseless lawsuits, and we will look carefully at our options and next steps to address today’s ruling,” said Wes Glinsmann, executive director of the Oklahoma State Medical Association. Without an umbrella of federal reforms, medical liability at the state level has too often been a game of one step forward, two steps back, as reforms are passed and then continuously challenged by the personal injury lobby….

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Arkansans for Jobs and Justice Launches Campaign for Real Tort Reform in Arkansas

A coalition representing a diverse group of Arkansans has joined together to support commonsense reforms that will help make Arkansas more competitive with surrounding states and protect everyday Arkansans. Paperwork was filed today for Arkansans for Jobs and Justice to advocate for the passage of SJR8. The committee will be anchored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce with leadership from the Arkansas Medical Society, The Poultry Federation, Arkansas Health Care Association and Arkansas Trucking Association. “It’s time to once again level the playing field in Arkansas with commonsense reforms that strike a balance between protecting the rights of everyday Arkansans while creating an environment of economic growth and job creation in Arkansas,” said Randy Zook, President of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately, the progress made on tort reform in 2003 has been stripped away, piece by piece, over the last 14 years by the Arkansas Supreme Court, making a constitutional amendment necessary. The passage of SJR8 by the voters of Arkansas will make Arkansas more competitive with surrounding states while still protecting the right to a jury trial and damages.” The legislative effort for the tort reform measure passed in 2003 was led by the Arkansas Medical…

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