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Study contradicts med-mal 'reform' arguments

This from the American Association of Justice:

Less than a quarter of the claims that doctors filed with an insurer seeking coverage for medical malpractice liability resulted in payments to the patients who alleged harm, according to a study published in the NewEnglandJournalofMedicine. The low rate of payments shows that insurers deny far more claims than they pay--and that the so-called medical malpractice crisis is nonexistent, plaintiff lawyers say.

The study, "MalpracticeRiskAccordingtoPhysicianSpecialty," looked at data between 1991 and 2005 for all the physicians covered by one national insurer. It found that while 7.4 percent of physicians faced a malpractice claim annually, only 1.6 percent had a claim that led to a payment. Seventy-eight percent of claims did not result in payments. The study considered only claims filed with the insurer, not lawsuits filed in court.

"What this new study tells us is that the supposed wave of malpractice payments is ac…

Medically Incompetent Doctors Flee to Texas

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Scary. Very scary.

From KRIS Corpus Christi and Texas Watch:

Corpus Christi neurosurgeon Stefan Konasiewicz is on trial in Minnesota this week for medical malpractice. Konasiewicz left a trail of medical incompetence in Minnesota that has resulted in nine medical malpractice lawsuits, some involving patient deaths, as well as a public reprimand by the Minnesota Board of Medical Practice.Rather than face the music in Minnesota Konasiewicz fled to Texas where lax oversight and a broken legal system allow bad doctors to keep seeing patients, turning our state into a safe haven for dangerous doctors like Konasiewicz.The Texas Medical Board, which is tasked with policing the medical profession, isn’t required to disclose – or even look into – cases of medical malpractice when a doctor moves from another state. So, patients have no way of knowing what their physician’s track record is. On top of that, if you are injured (or worse), the law is structured such that most patients and…

Going to Hospital in July Could Kill You!

Just a note to pass along for the upcoming weekend as we celebrate July 4th--BE SAFE and avoid the hospital!

A recent study published by the Journal of General Internal Medicine reported a 10 percent spike in teaching hospital deaths during the month of July due to medical errors. CNN reports on the effect--here's an excerpt:
Typically, medical students graduate in June and begin their first year of residency training — internship — in July. This group of eager new interns invades the hospital to learn, care for patients, and make medical decisions. One problem. They don’t know what they’re doing.Like most interns, I arrived with four years of medical school under my belt, an M.D. after my name, and virtually no practical knowledge of medicine. Although I wore the long white coat of a doctor, I kept my pockets packed with condensed medical manuals that we called our “peripheral brains” to make up for the lack of knowledge held in my actual brain. Thank God for these manu…

Texas's Medicare Spending Has Gone UP Since Tort Reform

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Tort reformers and Gov. Perry tout the success of Texas's medical malpractice tort reform as a cost control measure. But, this article from the Washington Post shows that Texas spending on Medicare has actually gone up since 2003:
For instance, we could look at Texas, where non-economic damages on malpractice lawsuits were capped at $250,000 about eight years ago. You might remember when Rick Perry and Newt Gingrich said: Texas, for example, has adopted approaches to controlling health-care costs while improving choice, advancing quality of care and expanding coverage. Consider the successful 2003 tort reform.So what happened to costs of care after that law was put in place? Public Citizen analyzed just that (pdf) using data from the Dartmouth Atlas of Health Care (Selected Medicare Reimbursement Measures):
Texas is blue, the nation is red, and the law went into place at the dotted line. If anything, Texas’s Medicare spending seems to have gone up faster than the nation’s sin…

Avandia-Being Pulled from Pharmacies by FDA

The U.S. Food and Drug Administration announced Wednesday that it would restrict access to GlaxoSmithKline PLC's diabetes drug Avandia and pull it from retail pharmacies because of the drug's link to increased risks of heart attack and stroke.

After Nov. 18, Avandia will no longer be available at pharmacies, and doctors and patients will need to enroll in an FDA program in order to prescribe and receive the medicine, according to the agency.

Call Your Senator Now: Loser Pays is really Winner Pays

The Texas House just passed the "Loser Pays" bill without any debate. In reality, a "winner" in a lawsuit could end up owing the "loser" money! We can stop this now if you contact your Texas Senator and give him or her this example courtesy of my colleague Steve Waldman:

The "Loser Pays" bill that was just ramrodded through the Texas House, without debate, should be called "Winner Pays." If this bill becomes law, the winner of the lawsuit may have to pay the loser's attorney's fees. There is no cap on the amount the winner has to pay. A plaintiff - and this includes a small business - can win a lawsuit and go bankrupt. The following scenario can actually happen:1.Joe's Lawn Service ("Mom and Pop" small business) buys 10 Hodna (company name changed to protect...) tractors at a cost of $100,000.2.The tractors do not work, costing Joe to lose most of his landscape business.3.Joe sues Hodna for the…

Supreme Court May Hear Military Med Mal Challenge

There is hope that the U.S. Supreme Court will hear a case that could allow military personnel who are victims of medical malpractice to sue military medical providers.

This is a sad and horrible case in which Air Force Staff Sgt. Dean Patrick Witt was hospitalized in 2003 for what should have been a routine appendectomy at Travis Air Force Base in Fairfield, Calif. After surgery, a nurse anesthetist inserted a breathing tube into his esophagus instead of his trachea or airway, depriving his brain of oxygen. Witt, of Oroville, Calif., died after his family removed him from life support three months later.

Current law protects the military and prevents Staff Sgt. Witt's family from receiving any justice for this malpractice. Veterans, military families and others who oppose the decades-old law, the Feres Doctrine, that shields military medical personnel from malpractice lawsuits are rallying around a case they consider the best chance in a generation to change the protection…

Speak Up--Whether it's a Doctor or a Cab Driver!

I thought this pieceby Maureen Dowd was very sobering and very funny. We are so afraid to speak up sometimes that it costs us our lives:
When my brother went into the hospital with pneumonia, he quickly contracted four other infections in the intensive care unit. Anguished, I asked a young doctor why this was happening. Wearing a white lab coat and blue tie, he did a show-and-tell. He leaned over Michael and let his tie brush my sedated brother’s hospital gown. “It could be anything,” he said. “It could be my tie spreading germs.” I was dumbfounded. “Then why do you wear a tie?” I asked. He shrugged and left for rounds.

6 Famous Frivolous Lawsuits that are B.S.

"The great enemy of the truth is very often not the lie -- deliberate, contrived and dishonest, but the myth -- persistent, persuasive, unrealistic." John F. KennedyHere is a site that dispels many of the email forwards and that "I heard that" stories about lawsuits. Unfortunately, the truth often times is merely something that is repeated over and over again.


The Sixth Biggest Killer in America

What is the sixth biggest killer in America? Car wrecks? Cancer? Heart attacks? No, it's medical errors...

Preventable medical errors kill and seriously injure hundreds of thousands of Americans every year. Any discussion of medical negligence that does not involve preventable medical errors ignores this fundamental problem. And while some interested parties would prefer to focus on doctors’ insurance premiums, health care costs, or alternative compensation systems—anything other than the negligence itself—reducing medical errors is the best way to address all the related problems. Preventing medical errors will lower health care costs, reduce doctors’ insurance premiums, and protect the health and well-being of patients.

Justice.org has the full story.

Zimmer NexGen Defective Knee Replacements

Zimmer NexGen CR-Flex Porous Femoral components and Zimmer NexGen LPS-Flex artificial knee replacements have been associated with high incidences of significant pain and loosening of the replacement knee, leading to the failure of the knee replacement, revision knee surgery or other knee surgery complications.
In March 2010, data was presented by a group of prominent knee surgeons indicating nearly 9% of patients examined after two years required revision knee surgery and 36% showed signs of loosening of the cement-less CR Flex artificial knee. These failure rates are higher than expected and are believed to be due to design defects. Based on the high number of calls we have received, we believe other models of the Zimmer NexGen artificial knee may also be defective and will ultimately be recalled. On July 29, 2010 Senator Charles Grassley (R-Iowa) issued a letter to Zimmer Holdings regarding problems with certain models of the Zimmer NexGen knee replacement system, indi…

FDA: Multaq and Liver Failure

According to an FDA Safety Announcement, the potential side effects of Multaq, a prescription drug used to treat abnormal heart rhythm, may be linked to an increased risk of acute liver failure or other liver problems.See the FDA WARNING: Severe Liver Injury with MultaqMultaq (dronedaron) is a new medication that was just approved in July 2009. It is used to treat patients who have had an abnormal heart rhythm during the past six months, such as atrial fibrillation or atrial flutter. Although it has only been on the market for a short period of time, nearly 150,000 people in the United States filled a prescription for the heart drug as of October 2010.The FDA has received a number of reports of heptocellular liver injury and hepatic failure among users of Multaq, including at least two cases of acute liver failure from Multaq that resulted in the need for a liver transplant.The two cases of Multaq liver failure occurred within the first six months of use (4.…

Tort Reform Hurts The Most Injured

A sad and chilling example of why tort reform hurts those that are the most injured. Seriously, any refinery worker in Texas needs to know that they really have no recourse if they are burned, maimed, killed, etc. by the negligence of the refinery. Because of tort reform, we have to turn these potential clients away all the time. People seem to have a mistaken belief that you can sue when you are injured by the negligence of others--well, thanks to "tort reformers," you really can't do that in Texas. Sad, but true.

Next time you are injured from negligence, don't call a lawyer, call Rick Perry and your Congressman/woman and tell them that insurance and corporate greed is literally killing good, decent workers.

Tort Reform is Attack on 7th Amendment and State's Rights

Why is Congress tearing apart the 7th Amendment and striking down State's Rights with H.B. 5? House Bill 5 is the so-called tort reform bill that barely made it out of the Judiciary Committee to limit meritorious lawsuits against health providers.

Maybe it's because the sponsor of the bill has been sued multiple times himself for medical malpractice...the NY Times and Mother Jones has the full story:

Case in point is one of the very congressmen sponsoring the bill, Rep. Phil Gingrey (R-Ga.). In 2007, the New York Times reports, Gingrey, who is a doctor, settled a lawsuit for $500,000 in a case involving a pregnant woman whose appendicitis Gingrey and others failed to diagnose. Her appendix burst, causing a massive infection that left her unborn child dead and the woman partially disabled after she suffered a stroke as a result.That wasn't the only time Gingrey has been sued. The Times writes:In a pretrial deposition, Dr. Gingrey testified that he had been sued at leas…

Insurance Company Won't Pay Out--Even in Hockey!

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Just another example that confirms all our suspicions about insurance companies...
During intermission at a recent game, the USHL's Indiana Ice held a contest where a fan tries to score a length-of-the-ice goal for $50,000. One man, who said if he won would give the money to charity, succeeded, but was told him his goal didn't count because he was over some line and the insurance company who sponsored this challenge didn't pay out the prize. The Indiana Ice, however, did make a donation to charity. The full story is below...even more telling is that Allstate apparently turned around and blamed a third-party insurance company for being the bad guy. I mean, the name of the contest was Allstate Good Hands Shootout--yet Allstate claims it was someone else that should have paid--sound familiar? That happens all the time in lawsuits--it's called "subrogation" (really, passing-the-buck).
Here's the full blow by blow:
On Saturday night at the Pepsi Colis…

Malpractice Reform Rests on Thin Evidence

From Texas Watch:

Washington lawmakers who advocate for medical malpractice reform assume they know what goes on in doctors’ offices. They say physicians order unnecessary tests because they fear being sued. So-called “defensive medicine” drives up health spending, the argument goes.They don’t acknowledge many doctors order tests because they’re trying to do a thorough job with patients. They rarely mention too much testing is a result of this country’s “fee for service” system of paying doctors. The more care they provide, the more they bill.Yet proponents of tort reform continue to call for changes in the law – usually caps on the amount of money in non-economic damages patients can collect in a malpractice lawsuits. Even if that did drive down the price of insurance for doctors, that doesn’t mean the savings would be passed on to consumers. It wouldn’t automatically lead to reduced health costs.Read More: Des Moines Register

Hot Coffee!!!!

Yes, yes, we all know about the hot coffee case. But do you really know the truth?

A documentary is in the running at Sundance Film Festival called Hot Coffee, and it explores not only that case but three other lawsuits in which seriously injured people are denied their rights under the current legal system.

Many people have no idea how we as Americans are being manipulated by powerful interests, and we are losing our rights to fairness and justice under so-called "tort reform." We are giving away our 7th Amendment rights and we don't even know it.

I haven't seen the movie yet, but here's a trailer and discussion:

The civil justice system has been under heavy attack for over 25 years.Despite the fact that federal legislation has never been successful, big business interests have won in the hearts and minds of average people. They launched a public relations campaign starting in the mid-80’s and continuing over the last two decades to convince the public that …

Why is Obama attacking the Constitution?

This is a brilliant blog entry from 7th Amendment Advocate Blog about the absurd idea of federal tort reform mentioned by President Obama in his State of the Union:
I'm disapppointed that the President and the sponsors of H.R. 5 have targeted this sector of the Constitutionally protected civil justice system for a federal takeover. When Pres. Obama raised it during the SOTU, conservative commentator Ramesh Ponnuru immediately called it "one of the Republicans' crummiest ideas" and added, "There's no need for a federal takeover of medical-malpractice rules." EXACTLY. But apparently the President and senior members of the GOP (the party of "limited government") now aim to limit your 7th Amendment right by using a government mandate, exactly what the GOP opposes in ObamaCare. Bizarre. ...

Here are a set of reasons why Tea Partiers, Constitutional conservatives, Main Street Republicans and Blue Collars should vigorously oppose H.R. 5 and a…

GlaxoSmithKline's $3.4 Billion Charge on Avandia

GlaxoSmithKline is taking a huge hit in the amount of $3.4 billion that it is charging off due to the litigation and settlement involving its diabetes drug Avandia. The drug is known to cause heart attacks and apparently GSK's former CEO knew about it way back when.

When will companies learn that it is cheaper to do the right thing that get slapped for doing the wrong thing?

Bnet has more:

GlaxoSmithKline (GSK)’s $3.4 billion legal charge on the diabetes drug Avandia probably isn’t the last of the costs the company will record against this drug. That means Avandia will probably be a loss maker for GSK, proving that former CEO Jean-Pierre Garnier’s 1999 failure to follow up on worries about heart attack deaths associated with Avandia was a strategic disaster for the company, costing it billions in actual dollars and billions more in lost-opportunity dollars.

When the dust has settled, GSK would probably have been better off stashing its development and marketing costs in a savings …

Lawyer v. Adjuster

This is just a funny video...and true...I feel for my colleagues on the insurance defense side...

Could it be...Satan?

Interesting oral argument yesterday in the Zicam litigation brought by its shareholders relating to corporate disclosures. Satan, Scalia and anosmia...quite a lively discussion. The New York Times has more:
What do you think about Satan?” Justice Scalia asked a lawyer for the government, who was just starting his argument. The case, Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano, No. 09-1156, was a class action against Matrixx Initiatives, an Arizona company accused of committing securities fraud by failing to tell investors of reports that its main product, a nasal spray and gel called Zicam, might have caused some users to lose their sense of smell. The condition is known as anosmia. After a link between Zicam and anosmia was reported on “Good Morning America” in 2004, the company’s stock dropped 24 percent. In 2009, the Food and Drug Administrationwarned consumers not to use the products, which had been sold as over-the-counter homeopathic medicines, and Matrixx recall…

Zicam to Argue Before U.S. Supreme Court Today

Matrixx Initiatives, the makers of Zicam, will argue today before the U.S. Supreme Court regarding what drugmakers, medical companies and other businesses tell investors about their products.The issue involves whether Matrixx Initiatives violated securities laws when it didn't tell investors that some consumers complained that they lost their sense of smell after using Zicam Cold Remedy nasal spray and gel swabs.The case is Matrixx Initiatives v. Siracusano, and the SCOTUS info and briefing is here.
The Arizona Republic has more:Drugmakers, biotechnology groups and other business interests have lined up behind Matrixx Initiatives, arguing that widespread disclosure of medical complaints from people who take drugs or use medical devices would confuse investors and consumers. The U.S. Securities and Exchange Commission, AARP and others have sided with a Decatur, Ill.-based pension fund that sued the company.The nation's high court will hear oral arguments today in the ca…

Drop-Side Crib Ban Takes Effect in June 2011

Following the deaths of at least 32 babies since 2000 from falls or strangulation, the Federal Product Safety Commission recently adopted new crib-safety specifications that one observer called the "strongest crib standard in the word."The new rules ban all drop-side cribs and impose tougher rules for crib slats and mattress supports, with the goal of eliminating gaps in which babies can become trapped and suffocate or strangle to death.The new rules, which take effect in about six months, will make it illegal to resell almost all current cribs, because they won't meet the new standard, the Tribune says. They will require hotels and child care centers to replace their current cribs within two years.If your baby has been injured by a drop-side crib, contact us at 713-529-1177 to learn your legal options against the manufacturers of these dangerous products.

Happy New Year and Zicam Settlement

Happy New Year--we've started the new year off in a very busy way--Matrixx Initiatives offered a settlement to our Zicam clients right before Christmas. Matrixx is offering a $15.5 million to settle the lawsuits who allege that they lost their sense of taste and smell due to the company’s recalled line of nasal sprays and gels. Zinc gluconate-containing Zicam products were recalled in 2009 after the FDA identified at least 120 adverse event reports involving loss of smell with Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Gel, Zicam Cold Remedy Nasal Swabs and Zicam Cold Remedy Swabs Kids Size. In the aftermath of the recall, FDA inspectors discovered 800 reports of Zicam problems that Matrixx Initiatives failed to forward to the agency, in violation of federal regulations.