Archive for the ‘Health Care Reform’ Category

Medical Malpractice Payments Are Down But Are Medical Errors Really Decreasing?

Tuesday, July 31st, 2012

Last year, Medical Malpractice payments hit an all time low.  The National Practitioner Databank, set up in 1991 to record medical malpractice payments also reports that payments have been decreasing consecutively for the past 8 years.

One of the reasons for the decline of medical malpractice awards could be individual state’s decisions to place a cap on non-economic damages, which limits the amount of money a plaintiff can receive for pain and suffering.   These caps have not only limited the amount of money one patient can receive, but are also preventing patients from collecting any damages, as more and more attorneys are limited the number of cases they accept because of the caps.

Another reason for the decrease in claims could be lack of reporting.  Healthcare facilities often settle a number of cases out of court.  This is often done to save both time and money.  However, these cases that are settled outside of court do not get recorded in the databank.  This medical malpractice payments that are paid out to clients as a result of the doctor or hospital’s negligence outside of court are not recorded as medical malpractice payments.  This could mean millions of dollars, potentially billions are not being recorded.

William Landess, CRNA, MS, JD is the director of anesthesia at Palmetto Health Richland Campus in Columbia, South Carolina.  He believes that the lack of reporting could be the answer.  “I believe the numbers, I just don’t believe they’re a fully accurate portrayal of the actual number of malpractice claims or their financial impact.”

Should You Accept a Medical Malpractice Settlement Offer?

Tuesday, May 8th, 2012

Medical malpractice reform has recently been in the news. There is a movement in some places to have doctors and hospitals apologize for their mistakes and make a settlement offer. At first glance it is looks like such a program might improve patient safety and decrease the amount of time it takes to get a
medical malpractice settlement.

However, a system of apologizing and making offers for medical mistakes may have potential disadvantages for patients who have been hurt. The concern is that patients will view the doctor or hospital offer as the only offer and that they will accept the offer without a full understanding
of their legal rights.

A doctor or hospital that has not been negligent is not required to pay damages. However, if a preventable mistake occurred that resulted in physical harm then a patient may be entitled to compensation for past and future medical expenses, lost income, out of pocket expenses, pain,
suffering and other damages.

If doctors and hospitals settle for the full amount owed to a patient than a program of apology and offer may work well. If not, then patients may suffer further.

What Will Happen Next for Health Care Reform?

Monday, April 2nd, 2012

Last week, the United States Supreme Court heard the much anticipated health care reform case. At issue before the Court was whether the individual mandate that requires every American to have health insurance is constitutional and whether the entire law will be struck down if the individual mandate part of the law is deemed unconstitutional.

Questioning by the Court seems to call into question whether Congress has the authority to require every American to have health insurance or face a financial penalty. The Court seemed further divided as to whether the whole law must be found unconstitutional if the key provision of individual insurance is found unconstitutional.

This case is being closely watched by many around the country and a decision is widely expected before the Court finishes its current session in June 2012.

House Passes Health Reform and Medical Malpractice Bill

Tuesday, March 27th, 2012

Last week, the U.S. House of Representatives passed a bill that would change the health
reform law
and limit medical malpractice recoveries. Specifically, the bill which passed the house in a 223-181 vote would:

  • Eliminate the Independent Payment Advisory
    Board.
  • Eliminate the findings and purpose of the HEALTH
    Act of 2011.
  • Extend liability coverage to on call and emergency
    room doctors.
  • Apply antitrust laws to the health insurance
    industry.
  • Grant civil liability protection to health
    professionals who volunteer at federally declared disaster areas.
  • Limit the recovery of non-economic damages (such
    as pain and suffering) in medical malpractice cases to $250,000 and limit
    attorney contingency fees to a certain percentage.

This bill is not expected to pass the United States Senate and is unlikely to become law.

Do you think it should? Do you agree with the majority of the House or the expected consensus of the Senate? Please leave a comment and let us know.

Should PA Patient Safety Authority be Part of Department of Health?

Wednesday, March 21st, 2012

Earlier this month the board of the Pennsylvania Patient Safety Authority announced that it planned to fight a provision in Governor Corbett’s budget that would cause the Patient Safety Authority to become part of the Pennsylvania Department of Health. The Patient Safety Authority has expressed concerns that its autonomy and independence would be at risk if it
were to merge with the Department of Health and that patient safety could suffer.

Governor Corbett has said that moving the Patient Safety Authority to the Department of Health would help streamline government. The Governor has also proposed that the Pennsylvania Health Care Cost Containment Council be moved to the Department of Health.

What do you think about such moves? Do they help streamline government or will they end up thwarting the efforts to improve patient safety in the Commonwealth?