Category Archives: Uncategorized

Top cases show physicians had a forceful ally in the courts

One thing physicians from Florida to Hawaii had in common in 2017 was that the Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies had their backs. The Litigation Center was involved in legal battles that helped prevent an insurance mega-merger, protected physicians’ right to free speech, and fought back on multiple fronts against attempts to sidestep or peel back established state liability reforms. But it was a case involving the staff at a hospital in rural California that may have attracted the most attention. Case signaled threat to end medical staff independence in California. In Tulare Regional Medical Center Medical Staff v. Tulare Local Healthcare District et al, the Litigation Center provided significant legal and financial support after the hospital’s board of directors voted to terminate the medical staff organization, remove elected medical staff officers, install a slate of appointed officers and approve new medical staff bylaws and rules without staff input. “This case serves as an existential threat to independent hospital medical staffs,” said Long Do, California Medical Association (CMA) legal counsel and director of litigation. Just before closing arguments were scheduled in October, Tulare filed for Chapter 9 bankruptcy. As part the process, the hospital…

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August 2017 Newsletter

Liability litigation threatens access to care in three states As medical liability reform continues to await consideration by the US Senate, the successes of state-based reforms are threatened by legal challenges that could limit access to affordable care. In Maryland and Michigan, personal injury attorneys are attempting to advance cases by filing ordinary negligence claims, rather than medical negligence claims, to skirt pre-trial reviews intended to weed out meritless lawsuits. In Kentucky, the constitutionality of a law enacted earlier this year on using medical review boards to assess the merit of a case is being challenged. In the Maryland case, a number of lower courts ruled that the proper procedure of submitting a claim with the Maryland Healthcare Alternative Dispute Resolution (ADR) Office for pre-suit arbitration had not been followed prior to allowing a liability claim to move forward. The issue now awaits a ruling by the Maryland Court of Appeals, the highest court in the state, which could affect the efficiency in which deserving patients receive compensation. “We’re worried that, if this went through, it would be a significant roundabout of the system we’ve worked out over the last 20 years,” said Stephen Rockower, MD, President of MedChi (Maryland…

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A Doctor’s Place is in the Exam Room

An orthopaedic surgeon and a neurosurgeon walk into a room… Unfortunately, this is not the start of a joke. While we would prefer to be sharing best practices and treating patients in our exam rooms, the fact is we’re spending more time than we’d like in a courtroom. Because our medical liability system is broken, orthopaedic surgeons, neurosurgeons, OB-GYNs and other specialty physicians continue to find themselves on the receiving end of meritless lawsuits. As a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon practicing for more than 40 years in Iowa City, I’ve seen countless colleagues forced to defend their treatment decisions and reputations — leaving less time for patients — only for the lawsuits to be dropped, dismissed or withdrawn for lack of merit. Our medical liability system costs too much, takes too long, undermines the doctor-patient relationship and does not serve the needs of patients or physicians. Too often, the cost of defensive medicine — the tests and procedures above and beyond what is medically necessary to limit exposure to litigation — is tacked on to health care bills, leading to steep increases in costs year after year. When applied to 2015 health care spending, defensive medicine adds anywhere from $160 billion…

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Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin’s State of the State address

Mr. Speaker, Mr. President, members of the Legislature, members of the Board of Public Works, justices of the Supreme Court of Appeals, members of Congress, distinguished guests, and my fellow West Virginians. Forty years ago on a night much like tonight, I joined my fellow Legislators in this beautiful chamber as a young man and a recent college graduate just elected to the House of Delegates and wondered what on earth I had gotten myself into. Armed with little more than a fresh perspective and a passion to make my home state the best it could be, I was eager to take on the challenges I knew we faced as a state. On my first trip to the supply room to pick up my pens, papers and folders, I was stopped by the House clerk who wanted to know who the supplies were for. I said they were for me. And he responded, well, who are you? I said, I’m the new delegate from Logan County. I imagine my emotions and expectations were not unlike our state’s and our nation’s youngest lawmaker, Saira Blair, who finds herself in this Chamber as a member of the majority, working with a governor…

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