Archives: November 2012

Coalition Floats Compromise, AAJ Gears Up To Fight Caps

Medical malpractice reform is returning to the spotlight as lawmakers embark on deficit-reduction discussions, with a broad-based health care coalition suggesting possible middle ground while trial lawyers gear up to fight against tort reforms that would cap damages or limit trial by jury. The American Association for Justice unveiled a “Take Justice Back” campaign Tuesday (Nov. 13) that pushes back against traditional medical malpractice reforms. Meanwhile, some health care stakeholders are floating new tort reform approaches, which one industry expert said would be a good issue to watch as legislators consider a grand bargain for deficit reduction. For example, the National Coalition on Health Care in a new report pushes a health court model for malpractice claims in the Federal Claims Court, which hears suits against federal medical facilities including community health centers and veterans’ hospitals. NCHC — whose members include providers, insurers, consumers and others — says this would allow for federal policymakers to fully test health courts without interfering with states’ individual tort systems, as it would not affect private malpractice cases in state courts. David Kendall from Third Way, a centrist think tank that developed the proposal, said that caps don’t get at the fundamental problems with medical malpractice…

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Malpractice Screening Panels Upheld in New Hampshire

In 2007, New Hampshire established an expert-panel system for use in medical malpractice lawsuits to cut back on frivolous suits and speed up resolution of cases. This system was recently challenged as unconstitutional, but the New Hampshire Supreme Court has just handed down a decision upholding the use of such panels. The case involved a woman who went to a New Hampshire emergency department complaining of back pain. The patient was admitted to the hospital, but later died, and her family sued the hospital, alleging that it had failed to contact a specialist in time. A pretrial medical screening panel made up of a retired judge, an attorney, and two physicians unanimously found that the hospital was not negligent. The patient’s family took the case to trial regardless, and filed a motion asking that the panel’s findings not be presented, arguing that the panel is an unconstitutional alternative to a jury trial. The court granted the motion, but the hospital appealed. The resulting complicated legal decision left the panel process largely intact, and the Supreme Court ruled that the panel process is constitutional, but that it will be up to the trial judges to decide how much information about the…

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November 2012 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 7, Issue 11 November 2012 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: HCLA Working to Include Medical Liability Reform in Deficit Reduction Talks Pre-Trial Screening Panels Upheld in New Hampshire, Expediting Liability Claims Congratulations are in Order… HCLA Working to Include Medical Liability Reform in Deficit Reduction Talks   While Congress is expected to address drastic cuts in spending and increases in taxes before the end-of-year “fiscal cliff,” a long term plan may be in the works to address our nation’s deep deficits – and the HCLA will be working to be part of the solution. Any options that offer significant cost savings – including medical liability reform – remain on the table for a grand bargain between Democrats and Republicans. While incremental reforms like health courts, early offers, and safe harbors for the practice of evidence-based medicine are a few compromises that have been recently mentioned that could be included in any efforts to reduce the deficit, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access continues to work towards proven, comprehensive reform measures. The HCLA has encouraged states to experiment with medical liability reform options, but Chairman Mike Stinson said in an article in Inside Health Policy they are…

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