Articles Posted in Medical Malpractice

Post #3 image. 2012-07-31.jpgJust this week a jury in California handed down a multimillion-dollar verdict against C.R. Bard Inc. and a doctor over a vaginal mesh implant that left a woman permanently injured. The case, initiated by Christine Scott, was the first vaginal-mesh case to go to trial and indicated good news for other patients who have suffered injuries due to the devices.

Jurors awarded Scott $5 million and her husband an additional $500,000 for being left incontinent and suffering from chronic pain. Scott received the implant in 2008 and then went on to have nine surgical procedures to help fix the problems the device caused. In her case, the damage was caused by Bard’s Avaulta Plus vaginal implant which is used to treat pelvic organs that bulge.

The company was found to be negligent given its handling of the devices, with jurors saying the company either knew or should have known that surgeons performing pelvic-floor repair would not realize the potential risks posed by the implant. The jury ultimately placed 60% of the fault on Bard and the remaining 40% on the doctor who implanted the device.

Post #2 image. 2012-07-17.jpgA recent report indicates that payments associated with medical malpractice claims hit a record low in 2011. The consumer advocacy group, Public Citizens said that the number of malpractice payments on behalf of doctors (9,758) was the lowest since 1991, the first full year that data was collected. This represented the eighth straight year of a decline in the number of payments. The average size of medical malpractice payments (approximately $327,000) amounted to $3.2 billion. When adjusted for inflation, this figure also takes the cake for the lowest amount on record.

The organization was quick to note that this reduced number of payments does not mean that patients should assume medical care has gotten correspondingly safer. Instead, the report should be seen as evidence that doctors are increasingly practicing defensive medicine to avoid litigation.

The data collected by the group found that most lawsuits are not frivolous, as many opponents often insist. Instead, it found that 80% of payments are for cases involving either death or catastrophic harm. The report further indicates these lawsuits do not contribute to the increasingly enormous cost of healthcare these days. Public Citizen found that med mal litigation costs came to only a tiny fraction of total national healthcare spending in 2010, 0.36% in fact.

Post #1 image. 2012-06-11.jpgAccording to a recent article in the New York Times, the often joked about poor penmanship of doctors can quickly become no laughing matter. Doctors’ poor handwriting isn’t funny when a real patient’s health is on the line and the truth is that carelessness can lead to long-term harm.

Abbreviations quickly scrawled by a doctor for a pharmacist can be unintelligible to a regular person. For example, the abbreviation “o.s.” refers to the left eye while “a.s.” means left ear. While it may not sound like a big difference, two drops of ear infection medication into an eye can cause serious damage. Though doctors and pharmacists are trained to watch for possible errors like this, nothing’s foolproof.

The answer to the problem may be found thanks to technology. If handwriting is truly to blame for many medication errors then an electronic, point-and-click system should help solve the problem. Advances in medical informatics, as medical IT is called, have made it possible for doctors to electronically transmit prescriptions to pharmacists, removing the chance for chicken scratch to wreak havoc.

Stacks of coinsIf you read the news you’ve likely heard lots of discussion of the importance of tort reform. Many lobbyists (typically on the payroll of major insurance companies) rail about the unfairly large verdicts they’re forced to pay. They often point to the system as being responsible for a large share of the increase in healthcare expenses. The fact is insurance company costs and profits have far more to do with the problem than the occasional large verdict for an injured plaintiff.

In 1960, the U.S. spent in total $27 billion on healthcare. By 1998, this number rose fifty-fold to $1.2 trillion. Defying all belief and sense of proportion this number more than doubled to $2.6 trillion by 2010, only 12 years later.

According to Kaiser Healthcare (a major national health insurance provider), at least 7% of the 2.6 trillion dollars goes to insurers in the form of profits and administration costs. This means according to the insurance industry’s own numbers, almost $200 billion goes to pay for non-medical services and profits.

Post #3 image. 2012-06-04.jpgThe family of a man in Georgia who died after engaging in a threesome with a woman and a male friend has been awarded $3 million from his cardiologist because the doc failed to warn the amorous man to avoid physical exertion.

In 2009, 31-year-old William Martinez, a police officer from outside Atlanta, went to cardiologist Dr. Sreenivasulu Gangasani complaining of chest pain that radiated into his arm. Dr. Gangasani correctly determined that Martinez was at “high risk” of having clogged heart arteries and ordered a stress test to be done eight days later. Sadly for Martinez’ family he died the day before his scheduled test while having a threesome with a friend and a woman who was not his wife.

The young cop and a male friend met late on the evening of March 12, 2009 to have a threesome with a woman at a motel on Virginia Avenue near the Atlanta airport. Around 3 a.m. he fell off the bed and became unresponsive. When EMT’s were not able to revive him, they took him to nearby South Fulton Medical Center where he was pronounced dead less than an hour later.

Post #2 image. 2012-05-26.jpgA new study has been released about medical malpractice claims across the nation. The lead researcher of the study is Dr. Anupam B. Jena and it appears in American Medical Association’s issue of Archives in Internal Medicine.

The data for the study is made up of cases closed between 2002 and 2005, but only those that involved some cost to the defense, meaning the case has gone past the Complaint stage of the lawsuit process. The final results of the study say that while medical malpractice claims usually go through the litigation process they seldom make it all the way trial. The study also found that of those who do go to trial they are more often than not resolved in favor of the physician.

There were also variations in the frequency of litigation between medical specialties. Overall 54.1% of all medical malpractice cases between 2002 and 2005 with some defense costs were dismissed by the court. The difference in rates of dismissal for various specialties is stark: 61.5% of claims against internists were dismissed while only 36.5% of cases against pathologists were dismissed. Between those same two specialties, 33.3% of claims against internists were resolved prior to going to trial while 46.9% of claims against pathologists were resolved before going in front of a judge.

Post #1 image. 2012-05-14.jpgThousands of doctors and insurance companies across the country, including those in Mississippi, have been sitting on the frontlines of Congress and their state legislatures pushing for more tort reform, including lower caps on damages. They have been very successful thus far. Mississippi was one of several states that passed tort reform legislation that has reduced the amount of non-economic damages that an injured patient can recover on a medical malpractice claim.

The purpose of this reform, according to its supporters, is to reduce the skyrocketing price of healthcare, partly caused by doctors having to defend medical malpractice claims. Recently, however, many non-partisan groups have conducted research which has revealed that medical malpractice costs are not contributing to the high price of healthcare in this country.

The Congressional Budget Office conducted a study that indicated that medical malpractice costs only account for about 2% of all health care costs. Given the miniscule contribution of medical malpractice costs to the overall costs of health care, reducing the number of malpractice lawsuits will not likely have a significant impact on cutting health care expenses. The lawyers/legislature have done their job in reducing the amount of money that an injured person can sue a doctor for, but the insurance companies have not reduced their insurance premiums to the doctors!

Post #1 image. 2012-04-28.jpgAccording to a recent report by LegalNewsline.com, the Mississippi Supreme Court has affirmed a Washington County trial court’s reduction of a $1.5 million verdict in a nursing home medical negligence case.

The victim’s name was Henry C. Gibson. He spent a little over a year as a resident of Arnold Avenue Nursing Home in Greeneville, Mississippi. After he was sent to the hospital in December 2002, he was moved to another nursing home, where he later died. After his death, Gibson’s estate sued the nursing home for Gibson’s wrongful death. The suit sought both compensatory and punitive damages. Specifically, Gibson’s estate claimed that Magnolia Healthcare, Inc., which owned Arnold Avenue Nursing Home, and Foundation Health Services, Inc., entered into an agreement with one another. The plaintiffs claim that both companies were negligent and their negligence contributed to the Gibson’s death.

After a trial, the jury found in favor of the plaintiffs and awarded them $1.5 million in compensatory damages. The court reduced the judgment to $500,000 for noneconomic damages and $75,000 for permanent disfigurement. The jury was not allowed to consider whether the plaintiff should be awarded punitive damages.

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Kobs & Philley, PLLC is pleased to announce that the firm has been recognized by Newsweek magazine as a prominent leader in the representation of medical malpractice victims in the United States. With years of legal experience in Mississippi, Kobs & Philley, PLLC represents victims who have been injured by the negligent acts of doctors / physicians and/or those employees, agents and staff of hospitals and clinics in Mississippi.

Each firm contacted for Newsweek’s “Leaders in Medical Malpractice” is in good standing with well-known law associations and/or has been recognized for excellence by respective local media outlets, have up to date verdicts and settlements of important cases.

“Our group of attorneys and staff work hard to achieve the best possible results for our clients, and I am proud of the firm’s work. I am also honored and grateful to Newsweek for recognizing this firm and its accomplishments,” said Benjamin N. Philley, co-founding partner of Kobs & Philley, PLLC. “It has been a privilege to represent families across Mississippi who have regrettably suffered debilitation injuries, and in some cases, the wrongful death of a loved one, whether that be from a car crash, 18-wheeler wreck or med mal” said Jared A. Kobs, co-founding partner of Kobs & Philley, PLLC.

Post #1 image. 2012-04-16.jpgPatients for Fair Compensation recently released a study detailing the costs of medical malpractice nationwide. According to the study, healthcare providers spent $31 billion in premiums in 2011. The exorbitant amount of money was spent by providers defending medical malpractice claims. Only 20% of those $31 billion in premiums was paid out to the patients who actually suffered harm from medical negligence. The balance went to attorneys’ fees and administrative costs.

The chairman of the Patients for Fair Compensation, Richard L. Jackson, had some harsh criticism for United States health care industry. He said, “You can’t find a more ineffective system for compensating injured patients than what we have in the United States . . . We take in far too much money and get so few dollars to medically injured persons. The system is just not working for patients.” There are also the increased costs for “defensive” procedures, which are those tests and exams that doctors perform as preventative measures to ensure that medical malpractice claims will not be brought, or if brought, will be dismissed. Jackson’s organization estimates that more than $650 million is spent on these defensive practices. Stated differently, the reason for this is because of how hard and often the defense attorneys and doctors fight a med mal case rather than pay the injured person reasonable compensation on the front end!

Data for the study was gathered by Bioscience Valuation of Germany, which made its methodology and a fact sheet available for public evaluation. “Total malpractice costs were taken from Towers Perrin’s 2009 Update on U.S. Tort Cost Trends. Trends in paid claim volume and total indemnity payments were estimated based on Physician Insurers Association of America’s Claim Trend Analysis 2011 Edition.”

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