June 27, 2006

Dr. Chicken Scratch and Cap Blues

Couple Says Texas Doc's Mistake Caused Wife's Hearing Loss . . .  but lawyers won't touch the case because they say state caps make it a losing proposition. Catch-22 people. Health courts, anyone? Read [CBS11TV.com]

Washington State says no more illegible, handwritten prescriptions. The land of Bill Gates only wants them typed or printed. Read [The News Tribune]

The average physician's net income declined 7 percent from 1995 to 2003, after adjusting for inflation, while incomes of lawyers and other professionals rose by 7 percent during the period, according to a new report from the Center for Studying Health System Change.

Any docs or lawyers or others want to chime in on this one?
Read [National Center for Policy Analysis]

April 25, 2006

No My Left Foot, So Sorry, and More Liability News

News_2_1_1_1_1_11) While surgery on the wrong patient or wrong body part often makes headlines, a new study that looked at 20 years of data from a malpractice insurance provider found that cases of "wrong-site surgery" are rare. Read [Forbes]

2) British Columbia is considering "The Apology Act," which could become the greatest Canadian export since hockey. Read [Press Telegram]

3) A doc with a new book about a 'Broken Medical System' says she laments having "to order an MRI just to prove they don’t have a brain tumor, even though we know they don’t." Read [Beverly Citizen]

4) Philipsburg Area Hospital in Pennsylvania battled to stay in business. But difficulties in recruiting doctors hurt and the rising cost of malpractice insurance "hit like a lead balloon." Read [Centre Daily Times]

5) Conservative estimates say doctors and lawyers will invest over $1 million in this year's races for the Tennessee General Assembly. One writer noted an interesting sight at the state capital: "hallways filled with physicians, clad in white coats, earnestly confronting lawmakers." We're sure lawyers in bespoke suits were lurking, as well. Sigh. Read [The Tennessean]

April 12, 2006

Docs Living Fat Off of Malpractice 'Suits

Expertwit3"This isn’t doctors against lawyers,” said Dan Kopen, M.D., an independent general surgeon in Kingston, PA. “It’s people who have a vested interest in the current system versus people who want something better for the population in general…. There are doctors who are becoming very wealthy as part of the current system because they provide expert testimony on a regular basis,”

Alright, we knew that, but this is what was news to us: “One of the biggest national brokers for expert medical testimony — Berkeley, Calif.-based American Medical Forensic Specialists Inc. — said it has a nationwide network of about 7,500 expert doctors and they bill hourly rates of $400 to $500, depending on the type of doctor needed.” Read [Scranton Times]

I want a slick corporate lawyer and a stethoscope-sportin’ med expert to arm wrestle on pay-per-view.

There is simply too much money involved in the medical liability world. Scrap the high-paid experts. Do away with the 40% cut-getting attorneys. Give us a better way. Someone. Somewhere. PLEASE!

January 06, 2006

Malpractice Insurance Companies Inflated Losses By $Billions

Croc Ah, the tangled web of the medical liability crisis. There are lawsuits. And medical errors. And settlements. And insurance premiums. Now, let's mix in one of the players getting greedy and sticking it to another. There are plenty of examples to go around in this arena, but today we'll look at the insurers. The Foundation for Taxpayer and Consumer Rights (FTCR), a California-based advocacy group, found that from 1986 to 1994 the insurance industry reported to regulators losses of $39.6 billion from malpractice suits, but actually paid only $26.7 billion, 31 percent less. The losses were overstated in each of the nine years. The estimates were then used to jack up malpractice insurance rates. "We're not saying they shouldn't use estimates, but it's how far off they are," said Harvey Rosenfield, a lawyer for FTCR. "It's out of the ballpark, not even close." We love stoking the inflation fires! Ten years on, do we think anything has changed? Read [The Washington Post]

December 27, 2005

Top Pennsylvania malpractice carrier freezes rates

Yes'Tis the holiday season as PMSLIC Insurance Co. has begun writing new policies after three years of restricting sales and six years of double-digit rate hikes. Pennsylvania actually has an innovative approach to dealing with the medical liability crisis and the stream of doctors fleeing the state.  PMSLIC provides coverage for claims totaling $500,000. MCARE Fund, a state program created in 2002, pays claims ranging between $500,000 and $1 million, and most of the state's 34,000 doctors are required to contribute to the fund. Hospitals generally provide additional coverage for doctors practicing in medical facilities, where claims exceeding $1 million most often occur. It's all a step in the right direction. But don't break out the champagne just yet. There's still the issues of a history of wildly fluctuating malpractice rates and the lack of a medical error reporting system. Read [Pittsburgh Business Times]

November 18, 2005

Malpractice insurance premiums and OB/GYNs


November 15, 2005

Country club medicine

CountryclubmedA doctor on call 24-hours a day. Same day appointments. Top quality care. ‘Tis a dream, but Dr. James K. Frost’s new practice actually provides it. You just have to cough up an annual retainer ranging from $2,000 to $10,000. But hey, Americans will pay for the best. So what’s the problem? Well, Dr. Frost says that before, overhead costs and malpractice insurance were forcing him to see more and more patients just to break even. Now he’s “the kind of physician I thought I was going to be when I went to medical school. The kind who knew his patients.” However, U.S. Rep. Pete Stark (D-Calif.) thinks if the trend catches on, “the health care system will become even more inequitable than it is today." The crisis deepens. Read [The Business Report]

November 01, 2005

Creative Medical Billing

The thing about the whole medical liability situation is that none of the players are safe from blame. Not the insurance companies, the trial lawyers, the patients or the doctors. Case in point: some Indiana docs are using rising malpractice premiums and a consequent tightening of profit margins as an excuse to do some fishy outsourcing. A physician sends a test to an off-site lab and is charged a discounted rate. The doctor then bills the insurance company a higher price and pockets the difference. Prescribe some extra tests and guess who ends up paying? Read [Ft. Wayne Journal Gazette]

About TMMS

  • ThisMakesMeSick answers renowned medical inventor Dr. Robert Fischell's wish to spread awareness (and outrage!) about the medical liability crisis that's ruining our healthcare system.

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What makes you sick?

  • We want to hear your thoughts and personal stories.

    Have you...

    • Fretted over rising malpractice premiums?

    • Signed a truly unbelievable medical liability waiver?

    • Faced a frivolous lawsuit?

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You don't say...

  • "This election destroyed a popular Karl Rove myth. The truth is that trial attorneys are winning, attacks on trial attorneys are backfiring and opponents of the civil justice system are losing."

    The CEO of the Association of Trial Lawyers of America said.

  • "We have discovered that virtually all patients are willing to sign a contract in which they agree not to sue their doctors on frivolous grounds."

    Jeffrey Segal, M.D, a board-certified neurosurgeon and the founder and president of Medical Justice Services, Inc., said.

  • "Low-risk obstetrics has been done here for 60 years, but not anymore."

    Carl Hanson, chief operating officer of the county-run Minidoka Memorial Hospital in southern Idaho hospital's, explained as they get out of the baby business. Read

  • "I have children, and I don't know where they're at."

    Rosalinda Elison, a former patient at the UC Irvine Medical Center’s fertility clinic, said after learning that that her eggs and embryos had been stolen and implanted in another woman who then gave birth to twins.

    Read more You Don't Say, here.

Crisis by numbers:

  • $4.6 million

    New York state grants available to expand the use of electronic medical records. Such initiatives have been hailed nationally as a way to cut medication errors, save money and improve patient safety. LINK

  • $700,000

    Amount raised by Fairness and Accountability in Insurance Reform to oppose malpractice limits in Arizona. LINK

  • $450,000

    Amount the Arizona Medical Association says Arizonans for Access to Health Care has raised to decide whether to push for montetary limits on lawsuits. LINK

    Read more CRISIS BY NUMBERS, here.

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