Category Archives: North Dakota

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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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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Malpractice Insurance Premiums Nudge Down Again

For the seventh straight year, malpractice insurance premiums have decreased for three bellwether specialties, and even for sticker-shocked obstetrician-gynecologists on Long Island in New York, according to an annual premium survey released this week by Medical Liability Monitor (MLM). Rates quoted by a malpractice carrier called Physicians’ Reciprocal Insurers for obstetrician/gynecologists in the New York counties of Nassau and Suffolk, east of Queens, went from $227,899 in 2013 to $214,999 in 2014, a decrease of almost 6%. However, this rate continues to be the highest quoted by any carrier in any state for this specialty. Overall, malpractice premiums decreased on average by 1.5% in 2014 for obstetrician/gynecologists, internists, and general surgeons, which is slightly less than the 1.9% decrease in 2013. By specialty, rates fell 1.6% for internists, 1.3% for general surgeons, and 1.7% for obstetrician/gynecologists. Since 2008, overall rates for the three specialties have fallen by 13%, MLM said. To many physicians, this slow decline represents little comfort because it was preceded by an era of rate spikes: Premiums increased more than 20% in both 2003 and 2004, and about 9% in 2005 (rate increases in 2006 and 2007 were less than 1%). “We haven’t come down as far…

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