Articles Tagged with medical malpractice reform


The Georgia Supreme Court has struck down a cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases, declaring the cap to be a violation of the right to trial by jury.   The case is Atlanta Oculoplastic Surgery, P.C. v. Nestlehutt,  NO. SO9A1432  (Ga. March 22, 2010).  Read the opinion here.

The Court ruled that by "requiring a court to reduce a noneconomic damages award determined by a jury that exceeds the statutory limit, OCGA Sec. 51-13-1 clearly nullifies the jury’s findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury’s basic function."

Will the President sacrifice the rights of patients injured by medical malpractice to get Republicans to sign-off on a health care bill?

Steven Olsen explains why the President  should not in this article titled "Why Shouldn’t Obama Throw Injured Patients Under the Bus to Get Heath Reform?  Ask Steven Olsen."

Steven Olsen is a malpractice victim from California.  Here is a letter written by the jury foreman after he learned that the jury’s damage award was cut because of California’s cap on damages.

The Tennessee Department of Commerce and Insurance has released the 2009 Medical Malpractice Claims Report.  Despite its title, the Report reveals data for calendar year 2008.

This is the fifth report issued by the Department and contains more different types of data than released in previous years because of a change in the reporting law.  Today I will report on some of the data and will address the balance in later posts.

In 2008, there were 3154 medical malpractice claims  closed in Tennessee.  (More than one "claim" can arise in a single case; a claim is defined as "a demand for money damages for injury or death caused by medical malpractice; or a voluntary indemnity payment for injury or death caused by medical malpractice.")  Of those claims 43 were resolved through ADR, 459 were resolved through settlement, 425 were resolved through judgment, and 2227 were otherwise resolved.

Here is the most up-to-date data on medical malpractice case filings in Tennessee.

Regular readers know that  effective October 1, 2008 the General Assembly imposed significant restrictions on patients who want to file a medical malpractice suits.  The new law, which was modified again effective July 1, 2009, requires pre-suit notice and the filing of a certificate of good faith.

For the 12-month period ending September 30, 2008, 644  medical malpractice lawsuits were filed in Tennessee.   A whooping 140 of those were filed in September 2008 as lawyers filed suits to avoid the burden and risks of filing cases under the new law.  If September 2008 were an average month, one would have expected only 45 cases to have been filed.

HeathGrades studies Medicare patient care in our nation’s hospitals based on 15 indicators of patient safety.   

Here are some highlights from the 2009 report representing data from 2005 -2007:

· There were 913,215 total patient safety events among 864,765 Medicare beneficiarieswhich represents 2.3 percent of the nearly 38 million Medicare hospitalizations.

The Commercial Appeal wrote an interesting story on medical malpractice litigation in today’s paper.  Read it here.

An excerpt:

Nationwide, the number of payments physicians made for malpractice claims fell to 11,037 last year — the lowest figure since the National Practitioner Data Bank began tracking data in 1990. Adjusted for inflation, the total $3.6 billion they paid was the second-lowest sum on record.

This column from the Business Section of today’s Los Angeles Times attacks the myth that restriction of the rights of patients to hold health care providers responsible for harming patients must be a part of national healthcare reform.  

An excerpt: 

Every circus needs a sideshow, which must be why every time the issue of rising medical costs gets debated, politicians start clamoring for "tort reform."

The Tennessee Supreme Court has ruled that a plaintiff who lost a medical malpractice case in federal court was not estopped from pursing a case against a State-employed doctor even though the federal court jury assigned no fault to the doctor, a non-party in the federal court action.

An excerpt:

We have determined that the proceeding in federal court did not provide Ms. Mullins with a full and fair opportunity to litigate her medical negligence claims against Dr. Mejia. It is undisputed that Ms. Mullins could not, as a matter of law, recover monetary damages from either Dr. Mejia or the State in the federal proceedings. Common sense also dictates that it would have been foolhardy for Ms. Mullins to press her claim that Dr. Mejia had been negligent in the federal proceeding because doing so would have diluted the strength of her claims against the remaining defendants and would have profited her little in later proceedings against Dr. Mejia. [Footnotes omitted.]

I recently wrote this post about the certificate of merit law struck down by the Washington Supreme Court.  Here is an editorial from The Olympian  which supports the Court’s decision.

Here is an excerpt:

The justices were right to keep the barrier between the legislative and judicial branches of government. They were equally correct to strike down the barrier to malpractice lawsuits.

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