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 merits of a medical liability lawsuit was overturned earlier this month, leading to concerns that medical lawsuit abuse could increase.
Striking down a law that mandated medical review panels issue opinions on the merits of a medical liability complaint before a lawsuit was filed, the Kentucky Supreme Court ruled that it delayed citizens’ access to courts.
Supporters of the law recognized the difficulties that lay ahead in creating a friendly liability climate that attracts top physicians and keeps health care affordable. The Kentucky Medical Association highlighted that Kentucky “now remains one of the few states in the country with no meaningful tort reform, including medical liability reform, making our system more susceptible to higher costs and frivolous lawsuits.”
Click here to read more about the ruling against medical review panels that could lead to an increase in meritless lawsuits across Kentucky.
Cardiologists see increase in liability lawsuits
A new study following medical liability claims over the past decade has highlighted an increase in lawsuits against cardiologists, putting pressure on physicians to practice defensive medicine.
Frances Wang, MS, and Sandeep K. Krishnan, MD, conducted an analysis of 1,538 cardiology liability claims filed between 2006 and 2015 in a study published late last month in the American Journal of Cardiology.
The researchers found both the total number of claims and annual indemnity payments in cardiology increased between 2006 and 2015, with claims alone increasing by 91 percent over the decade and total liability paid growing by 142 percent. Analyzing data from Controlled Risk Insurance Company’s Comparative Benchmarking Systems (CBS) database, they were able to take a deep dive into 350,000 medical liability cases to better understand litigation and health care cost trends across the practice of cardiology.
“These data can be used to contextualize the discussion for tort reform in an environment of growing defensive medicine practices and exponentially increasing costs of healthcare,” the researchers stated.
Read more about troubling liability trends for practicing cardiologists here.