Archives: November 2019

November 2019 Newsletter

Iowa’s liability climate is changing – for worse The Iowa Medical Society (IMS) highlighted how the state’s medical liability climate is shifting and threatening access to care in the Fall edition of Iowa Medicine. In 2017, a series of reforms including certificate of merit and expert witness requirements were implemented to drive down the number of meritless lawsuits filed in the state. Unfortunately, at the time, reasonable limits on non-economic damages were included only as a “soft cap,” allowing the limit to be waived by a jury in certain instances. MaryGrace Elson, MD, MME, FACOG, President of IMS and an OB/GYN from Iowa City, highlights the outcome of the soft cap in the edition’s feature story, “Our Medical Liability System in Crisis.” “In the past three years, Iowa’s medical liability climate has shifted dramatically,” she notes. “… Iowa’s trial bar has begun cherry-picking cases where there is no dispute that a medical error occurred. Employing questionable tactics that play to juries’ emotions and drive up award expectations, we have seen a string of high-dollar verdicts against physicians and facilities.” Over the past two years, just five lawsuits have led to awards of $63 million in noneconomic damages, and impacted patient…

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Spike in medical-malpractice payouts worries CT doctors, hospitals

SOURCE: Hartford Business Journal Medical-malpractice insurance payouts on behalf of Connecticut hospitals, physicians and other healthcare providers in 2018 hit their highest total since the state’s been tracking the data. In all, malpractice insurers, including self-insurance entities like “captives,” paid out $262.6 million to patients alleging errors, misdiagnoses and other medical missteps. That was a 33 percent, or $65.7 million, increase over 2017, and the total bested a prior record of $229.8 million in malpractice payouts set back in 2006, the year after the state began tracking and reporting the data. The average payment also hit a record level in 2018 — $935,000 — after staying below $700,000 for the prior five years, according to the Connecticut Insurance Department, whose data includes legal settlements and judgments. Some hospitals and doctors worry that the uptick could signal coming increases in their malpractice premiums. That would fit with a broader trend, as premiums have been rising across the country in recent years, after more than a decade of stability, according to the Medical Liability Monitor, an Illinois-based news service that tracks malpractice issues. Rising malpractice claims and liability insurance costs are significant because they increase healthcare costs for everyone, including individuals and…

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Pa. high court tosses seven-year medical malpractice limit

SOURCE: Modern Healthcare UPMC faces a medical malpractice suit stemming from a liver transplant in 2003 after the Pennsylvania Supreme Court threw out a state law barring malpractice lawsuits after seven years. In a 4-3 decision Thursday, the state ruled that the statute of repose, passed in 2002, unconstitutionally violates the right of access to the courts and lacks any substantial relationship to the legislative goal of controlling malpractice insurance costs and premiums. That means the Yanakos family can proceed with their liability suit against the Pittsburgh-based health system and two of its physicians for taking a liver lobe donation from Christopher Yanakos to transplant into his mother Susan even though Christopher had the same genetic liver disease as she did. One of the dissenting justices wrote that the majority decision and concurrence “flout” the Legislature’s policymaking authority and that “it is not this court’s role to upend duly enacted legislation simply because we might sometimes deem it imperfect or unwise.” A number of states have enacted statutes of repose limiting medical liability suits, though courts in at least six other states — Alabama, Indiana, Kentucky, New Hampshire, Rhode Island and Utah — have struck them down. A statute of…

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