Category Archives: Utah

August 2019 Newsletter

Liability reforms must be more than skin deep An analysis by University of Virginia (UVA) researchers on the prevalence of unnecessary medical tests highlighted the effect on health care costs and patient anxiety, leading a retired neurologist to reflect on how reforms must go beyond the superficial. The initiative followed a report by UVA researchers Andrew Parsons, a hospitalist and an assistant professor of medicine, and Joe Wiencek, a pathologist and an assistant professor of pathology, which found that diagnostic care that offered little value to patients is estimated to cost our health care system $800 billion annually. By offering technical solutions, such as a screen alert when a doctor orders a certain test and a weekly email that analyzes the amount of tests a doctor orders as compared with their peers, they seek to drive down unnecessary costs. Retired Virginia neurologist Dr. Justiniano F. Campa urged policymakers and patients to consider the root cause – a physician’s fear of being faced with a lawsuit. “I have to point out that the main reason for those tests lies in doctors’ fear of being sued, an event that can stop and destroy a hard-earned reputation and career,” Campa writes. While he…

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Utah Supreme Court strikes down law requiring agency pre-approval of medical malpractice claims

SOURCE: The Jurist Utah’s Supreme Court has unanimously struck down a state law requiring medical malpractice plaintiffs to obtain a “certificate of compliance” from a state agency. The court ruled that the law, known as the Malpractice Act, was unconstitutional as it violates the separation of powers doctrine by limiting the role of the judiciary. In Utah, a certificate of compliance is issued once Utah’s Division of Occupational and Professional Licensing (DOPL) reviews a malpractice claim and determines it has merit. If the claim is rejected by the DOPL, plaintiffs can still receive the certificate upon attestation of their claims by an expert. In the case, a patient’s widow, Yolanda Vega, accused health care providers of causing the death of her husband, who died a week after surgery. Vega sought a certificate of compliance from the DOPL but was denied and filed suit. The trial court dismissed the case for failing to comply with the Malpractice Act, and Vega subsequently appealed. The Utah Supreme Court reversed and remanded the case, agreeing with Vega that the Malpractice Act was facially unconstitutional. Specifically, the court cited to the separation of powers doctrine, where the roles of executive branch (the DOPL) must not…

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