Archives: April 2019

April 2019 Newsletter

Risky business: Lawsuit venue shopping harms access to care An overview of Pennsylvania’s recent proposed changes to lawsuit venue filing rules highlights the risk it adds to accessible and affordable care. Following a surge of liability lawsuits in locations that were seen as ruling favorably to plaintiffs, the Pennsylvania Supreme Court issued a rule that required a plaintiff to file the lawsuit in the county where the alleged medical error occurred. When recent discussions on changes to this rule to allow for “venue shopping” were made public, justices agreed to delay any changes until a legislative study could be done on the matter. A public hearing made the position of access to care advocates clear: “…Doctors and hospitals would be reluctant to partner with facilities located in a city where juries tend to favor plaintiffs over defendants, rewarding the former with sizable judgments,” a recent Medscape article reflected. Restrictions on venue shopping have reduced medical lawsuit abuse in the state of Pennsylvania, bringing the state’s medical liability compensation fund to a record surplus. The risks of venue shopping “will need to [be weighed] carefully before deciding whether the venue rule should stand as it is or be altered,” the article…

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Wisconsin is second best state for physicians, new national ranking finds

SOURCE: Wisconsin Watchdog Wisconsin ranks the second best state for doctors to practice in, according to a new national study, but a state physicians’ group said the analysis tends to run counter to its recent surveys. The website, which published a study titled “2019’s Best & Worst States for Doctors” this past week, found that Wisconsin is 12th in “opportunity and competition” for doctors and fourth in terms of the state’s “medical environment.” The “opportunity and competition” section refers to criteria such as doctors’ annual wages, hospitals per capita, and what percentage of the state population has health insurance. “Medical environment” includes the quality of hospitals, hospital safety, physician assistants per capita and malpractice insurance rates. “In Wisconsin, physicians have some of the highest average annual wages, 93.5 percent of the population is insured and the share of employer-based health insurance is almost 53 percent,” Jill Gonzalez, a WalletHub analyst, told in an email. “Thus, the state is the very attractive for doctors.” Wisconsin also requires doctors to get continuing medical education credits, and its malpractice insurance rates are favorable compared to the other states, according to Gonzalez. “The malpractice payout is the smallest nationwide, and the annual…

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Here’s how to bring down the rate of malpractice claims

SOURCE: Pittsburgh Post-Gazette More than a third of all physicians have had at least one malpractice suit filed against them, which helps explain why malpractice insurance can run into the six figures. And now, after decades of relative stability and even declines in premiums, the American Medical Association reports that they have been trending up for many specialties since 2015. These costs are ultimately borne by patients, of course, which means that health care may become even more expensive. The good news is that we have developed a far better understanding in recent years about why malpractice claims arise in the first place — it turns out that they often have more to do with poor communication than bad medicine. And reforms and new approaches are underway that are reducing malpractice claims and improving patient outcomes. Although large jury awards get the most attention, they account for a tiny fraction of cases. An AMA policy report for 2006 through 2015 found that only 7 percent of claims were resolved by a trial verdict, and defendants won 87 percent of those cases; 23 percent of claims were settled before trial. Significantly, a large majority of claims — 68.2 percent — were…

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