New York Tests Program To Curb Medical Malpractice Costs, But Will It Be Fair To Patients?


Posted on 23rd July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, ,

Five New York City hospitals will be taking part in a pilot program that aims to reduce medical malpractice costs through mediation, avoiding trial, The Wall Street Journal reported Friday. One of the cornerstones of the program is for hospitals to admit their mistakes and to offer potential defendants settlements early on.

While I believe this is an intriguing initiative that could help curb medical errors at hospitals, I share some of the concerns raised in the story by the president of the New York State Trial Lawyers Association, Nichlas Timko. 

The issues are will the early disclosure and settlement program essentially let negligent doctors and hospitals off the hook for their mistakes, and will this system take advantage of patients who don’t retain counsel.

The pilot program, which starts in the fall, is getting $3 million in federal funding, and “aims to cut the $1.4 billion spent annually in New York State on medical-malpractice premiums,” according to The Journal.

The participating hospitals are Beth Israel Medical Center, Mount Sinai Medical Center, New York-Presbyterian Hospital, Maimonides Medical Center and Montefiore Medical Center. Four of the hospitals will focus on trying to cut down on mistakes in obstetrics, while New-York Presbyterian is looking to stop surigcal mistakes.

 The program will use state “health courts,” where judges will help hospitals and patients negotiate settlements, avoiding such cases going to trial. 

State officials stressed that patients can still decide to take their cases to trial, and if they choose the judge-directed negotiations, they will be notified that they have the right to have an attorney at their settlement talks.

It will be worth studing the results of this pilot program. But again, the proper measures must be taken so that patients aren’t railroaded into settling a lawsuit for far less money than they are due.       


Michigan Mother Sues Over Carbon-Monoxide Death Of Her Son By His Father


Posted on 21st July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, ,

This is one of the more unusual lawsuits I’ve come across relating to a fatal carbon monoxide poisoning: A Michigan mother whose son was killed by his father has filed suit against state child welfare employees.,0,7027514.story

The mother, Rebecca Jasinski of Saginaw County, lost her son Nicholas Braman, who was one of the victims of a murder-suicide engineered by his abusive father, Oliver Braman. The father killed himself, his wife and his son Nicholas by carbon monoxide poisoning about three years ago. 

In her lawsuit, filed in federal court in Grand Rapids, Jasinski charges that her son’s life could have been saved if Michigan officials had taken the boy away from his father’s home in Montcalm County.  

The murder-suicide happened about a month after the Montcalm County prosecutor’s office recommended that the state remove Nicholas from his father’s home. And just a few days before the deaths, Braman didn’t appear in court to be sentenced for child abuse charges. He had been convicted of putting a cattle prod to his two other sons to punish them.

I think that transgression alone should have made Michigan child welfare workers rescue Nicholas from his sick father’s home. And in fact the Michigan Department of Human Services’s watchdog group, the Office of Children’s Ombudsman, determined that the state should have taken Nicholas once Braman was convicted of abusing the other siblings.

The negligence suit names seven people, present or past employees of the department and its Child Protective Services unit, and asks for unspecified damages greater than $75,000. That’s the threshold for a civil case to be heard in federal court.     






Whistle-Blower Suit Alleges Rush University Medical Center Violated Medicare Rules


Posted on 9th July 2010 by gjohnson in Uncategorized

, , ,

Would you want a medical resident to operate on you, without a surgeon present to supervise? We didn’t think so.

Well, that’s allegedly what happened at Rush University Medical Center in Chicago, just one of several charges made against the facility in a whistle-blower lawsuit, according to United Press International.”>

 The suit was filed by Rush surgeon Dr. Robert Goldberg and a former hospital executive. They charge that Rush risked patient health to gain “monetary rewards and celebrity status.”

The hospital in a statement said “the lawsuit has no merit and (it) intends to vigorously defense the case.”

The suit names six physicians, charging that they violated Medicare billing rules in 2004 and 2005 that mandate that teaching doctors be physically present when difficult parts of surgey are being performed by residents.

According to UPI, residents are post-graduate doctors who get specialized training under the supervision of a fully licensed physician.

At Rush, the suit alleges that one surgeon never was in the operating room to supervise a procedure a resident was doing. It also charges that in another case, a surgeon monitored residents’ operations via a TV monitor while performing his own surgeries in another room.