Battle Rages To Increase California’s Malpractice Cap


Posted on 27th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , , ,

A consumer watchdog group in California is fighting hard to let voters decide if the state’s cap on medical malpractice awards should be increased, and hopefully Californians will have the chance — and support upping the limit.

As explained by the Insurance Journal, the cap on pain and suffering awards on medical malpractice in California is only $250,000, a number set almost four decades ago, in 1975. Consumer Watchdog California says that just to keep pace with inflation, that cap should be increased to $1.1 million. The consumer group will start to collect the 750,000 signatures it needs on a petition to get the issue put on the ballot next year so voters can decide on raising the limit. according to the Insurance Journal.

Californians Allied for Patient Protection oppose any increase in the cap for non-economic damages. The coalition is armed with a 2010 study that claims that increasing the cap to $500,000 alone would end up in $9.5 billion is added costs a year to the state’s health care system, the Insurance Journal reported.

The drive to get the cap increased is being spearheaded by a man, Bob Pack, whose daughter, 7, and son, 10, were killed by a driver who was on drugs, became unconscious and then went off the road and hit them. Pack’s wife also lost the unborn twins she was carrying in the accident.

It’s no surprise that Pack wants to see some action taken after the horrendous loss he suffered. One of the things he is lobbying for is the requirement that doctors use CURES (Controlled Substance Utilization Review and Evaluation System) to access patient-abuse histories. according to the Insurance Journal. Consumer Watchdog maintains that doctors aren’t checking CURES, hence the rise in prescription drug addiction.

Of course, the California Medical Association and insurers are screaming about any plan to increase the current $250,000 cap on compensation for pain and suffering, blaming the effort on greedy lawyers. After all, they argue, currently there isn’t any limit on incurred medical expenses, future medical expenses and past and present lost wages. So there doesn’t need to be one on pain and suffering, they say.

Tell that to Bob Pack. Money won’t bring back his lost children and unborn twins. But shouldn’t he and his wife get adequate compensation for the pain and suffering they have endured? And shouldn’t a jury be able to decide whether they deserve more than $250,000, a number set decades ago?

Let’s hope California voters get a chance to decide in the voting booth what to do about the cap, and that they do the right thing.

University To Pay $15 Million To Brain-Injured Girl


Posted on 14th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , , , ,

In one of he largest medical malpractice settlements in the state’s history, the University of Washington (UW) will pay $15 million to the family of a girl who suffered traumatic brain injury (TBI) after using a nasal decongestant recommended by the school’s physician at Seattle Children’s Hospital, according to the University Herald.

It’s unclear if a judge ordered the award or if it was a settlement, since the $15 million is described both ways in the story. At one point the story said that a  judge in King County Superior Court had ordered the award in the case involving MacKenzie Bryant. Her family filed suit against the hospital and UW.

In another section of the story, the money was described as a settlement.

MacKenzie got a cold, and had blocked nasal passages about four years ago. Dr. Cory Noel, a university cardiology fellow, suggested she take Afrin, despite the fact that the child’s cardiologist, Dr. Yuk Law, had warned that she shouldn’t take the decongestant because of her heart condition, the University Herald reported.

MacKenzie had previously had a  heart transplant.

Law was correct in his warning. MacKenzie had a cardiac arrest not long after her mother gave her the Afrin. As a result of the cardiac arrest, the girl’s brain was deprived of oxygen and she suffered TBI. Now she must have round-the-clock nursing care. She can’t talk, has to get nourishment through a stomach tube, and can’t move.

According to the University Herald, UW apologized for the girl’s brain injury but defended its doctor.

“We believe that the use of Afrin, a commonly used over-the-counter cold remedy, did not lead to MacKenzie’s [cardiac arrest]: However, the judge on this case ruled in favor of the plaintiff and her family,” the university said in a statement.




Appeals Court Lets Cerebral Palsy-Bus Accident Case Go To Trial


Posted on 13th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , ,

A Georgia appellate court has reversed a summary judgment ruling that threw out a suit filed by a woman motorist whose vehicle was hit by a school bus, which she claims caused her newborn to develop cerebral palsy, according to Daily Report.<

The mother, Katina Nixon, sued the Pierce County School District over a March 10, 2008 accident. Nixon, nine months pregnant, was driving a small sedan when she was hit from the rear by a District school bus. In the crash, Nixon suffered bruises on her chest and lap from her seat belt, and had neck and shoulder injuries, the Daily Report said.

Nixon was rushed to the hospital, where doctors induced labor. The next day, March 11, Nixon gave birth to a girl, Kylee. But all was not well. At age six months it became apparent that the baby was favoring her left side, and at age one she was having trouble crawling because of the limited use she had of her right side, according to the ruling of the Georgia Court of Appeals.

Nixon took her daughter to a pediatric neurologist, who diagnosed Kylee as having cerebral palsy due to a perinatal stroke.

In her negligence lawsuit, Nixon blamed her daughter’s stroke and subsequent cerebral palsy on the collision with the bus. In a deposition, the neurologist said the crash could have caused Kylee’s condition, but that she couldn’t say there was a direct “casual connection” between the stroke and bus accident beyond a 50 percent chance, the appellate court said.

The school district filed a partial summary judgment, which was granted by the trial court. It found that Nixon “failed to create a jury question as to whether Kylee sustained an injury as a result of the bus accident,” the appeals court said in its ruling.

But the appeals court disagreed and reversed.

“We agree with the District that the causal connection between the stroke and bus accident presents a specialized medical question that requires expert testimony but … we hold that the record evidence is sufficient to create a jury question on that issue,” the appellate court said.

So the case will go to trial.

Brain-Damaged Man Gets $6.4 Million In Medical Malpractice Case


Posted on 12th July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, ,

In what is one of the largest medical malpractice awards ever in the state, a Missouri jury has awarded $6.4 million to a married couple over a stroke the husband suffered in 2007, according to the St. Louis-Post Dispatch. He sustained brain damage.

A St. Louis County jury awarded the sum to Jeffrey Schneider and his wife Connie, who alleged in their suit that he had a stroke after getting an infection that should have been detected and treated, the newspaper reported. The medical malpractice suit had named Dr. Joseph Thompson of SSM DePAul Medical Group as a defendant.

Schneider had been diagnosed with mitral valve prolapse by Thompson in 1996, the suit said. That is a condition where the heart valve doesn’t fully close, allowing blood to flow backward into it. But Thompson never referred Schneider to a cardiologist, according to the Post-Dispatch, and really never did anything about the condition.

That led to trouble in April 2007, when Schneider fell ill with fatigue and abdominal pains, the Post-Dispatch reported. Thompson had Schneider go for some tests, but not to a cardiologist for tests on his heart.

A month later, Schneider had an acute stroke caused by a bacterial infection on his heart valve, according to the Post-Dispatch. As a result of the stroke, he suffered brain damage and has problems with his short-term memory, trouble processing words and paralysis on his right side. He hasn’t been able to work since the stroke.



New Fla. Law May Deter Medical Malpractice Suits


Posted on 3rd July 2013 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , ,

Here’s one way to discourage people from filing medical malpractice suits: Allow the doctors and hospitals they want to sue to have access to all their medical records, violating their privacy.

A new law in Florida, being challenged by several trial attorneys, permits defendants in medical malpractice cases to get access to a plaintiff’s health care records, from all their health care providers, according to Insurance Journal. In five different lawsuits, trial attorneys argue that this violates the patient privacy safeguards in the federal Health Insurance Portability ad Accountability Act.

The trial lawyers, rightly so, maintain that this law will stop patients from filing malpractice suits, for fear that sensitive personal information about them will be made public, according to Insurance Journal. This law is so heinous, it permits potential defendants to contact health care providers even before a suit is filed, without consent of the would-be plaintiffs.

The trial lawyers suing are seeking an injunction to stop enforcement of the law, which they allege violates patients’ rights.

What kind of information would a patient be wary about becoming public?

Well, one woman whose child was born with a seizure disorder is considering filing a medical malpractice suit, Insurance Journal reported. But she was raped during her pregnancy, and she wants that information kept confidential. So because of the new law, she may not sue now.