Posts Tagged ‘medical’

Over at Point of Law

The mystery guestblogger over at Point of Law has now been revealed: it’s Prof. Martin Grace of the highly recommended site RiskProf. He’s an insurance and liability expert and will be contributing comments this week and next. We originally announced that there would be a second guestblogger at Point of Law this week as well, but that personage is being held at an undisclosed location and is expected to stop by next month instead.

Also at Point of Law, check out Ted’s posts on Kelo v. New London, the eminent domain case decided today by the Supreme Court, and on anesthesiologists and malpractice; Jonathan B. Wilson’s posts on recent California Supreme Court rulings on punitive damage limits, a $300 million fee for Bill Lerach, and scary scam suits by prison inmates; and my contributions on such topics as how some securities lawyers get clients and the politics of loser-pays.

Sen. Grassley and the hospital litigators

It’s not exactly a secret around Washington that Sen. Chuck Grassley (R-Ia.) has been a good friend to the corps of plaintiff’s lawyers who employ the False Claims Act (the so-called “whistleblower” law) to sue universities, defense firms and other federal contractors. But is he also doing favors for the team of lawyers headed by Dickie Scruggs suing many of the nation’s nonprofit hospitals over alleged failure to meet charitable obligations? The American Spectator’s anonymous “The Prowler” assembles some of the evidence (“Grassley, Lott & Scruggs”, Jun. 14).

Proximate cause, void in N.J.?

David Bernstein and commenters (Jun. 10) discuss a 1999 case (Canesi v. Wilson) in which the New Jersey Supreme Court held that a woman could sue over the “wrongful birth” of a baby with birth defects because the doctor didn’t warn her that a drug he prescribed during the pregnancy was suspected of causing such defects, even though she was unable to offer any expert testimony indicating that the drug had actually caused the defects (and scientific evidence was accumulating that it had not in fact done so).

In Britain, less fearful M.D.s

David Asman, reflecting on his wife’s experience in British and American hospitals, notices some patterns (“There’s No Place Like Home”, American Spectator/Wall Street Journal, Jun. 8):

There is also much less of a tendency in British medicine to make decisions on the basis of whether one will be sued for that decision. This can lead to a much healthier period of recuperation. For example, as soon as my wife was ambulatory, I was determined to get her out of the hospital as much as possible….

Now try leaving a hospital as an inpatient in the U.S. In fact, we did try and were frustrated at every step. You’d have better luck breaking out of prison. Forms, permission slips and guards at the gate all conspire to keep you in bounds. It was clear that what prevented us from getting out was the pressing fear on everyone’s part of getting sued. Anything happens on the outside and folks naturally sue the hospital for not doing their job as the patient’s nanny.

Why are the Brits so less concerned about being sued? I can only guess that Britain’s practice of forcing losers in civil cases to pay for court costs has lessened the number of lawsuits, and thus the paranoia about lawsuits from which American medical services suffer….

Defensive medicine? Lots of it

Doctors admit ordering unnecessary diagnostic tests or avoiding troublesome patients for fear of malpractice lawsuits, perhaps harming care in the process, a survey released on Tuesday said.

The survey of 824 Pennsylvania physicians [in six specialties considered susceptible to litigation] found 93 percent confessed to ordering unnecessary tests, while 42 percent said they referred patients elsewhere if they had complex problems or were perceived as litigious. Both practices are referred to as so-called defensive medicine.

“The most frequent form of defensive medicine, ordering costly imaging studies, seems merely wasteful, but other defensive behaviors may reduce access to care and even pose risks of physical harm,” wrote lead author David Studdert of the Harvard School of Public Health.

(Andrew Stern, “Doctors’ Fear of Lawsuits May Hurt Care”, Reuters/, May 31). For more on defensive medicine, see, among others, Feb. 1, 2004, Jun. 5, 2002, Point of Law, Apr. 10, and this Peter Huber column on an earlier Daniel Kessler study. Plus: KevinMD has more links here and here on the new study.

Medical matters: new at Point of Law

Loads of coverage of health matters in recent weeks over at our sister website, including: liability fears and emergency room admissions; New Jersey bans “retaliating” against expert witnesses over testimony they give, no matter how untrue it may be; Ted on one lawprof’s grossly misleading use of med-mal statistics, and a second round of the same; pain medication in nursing homes (and more on nursing homes); two doctors pick up stakes; Australian med-mal rates fall after reform; same thing in Texas; HHS introduces a distinctive “early offers” program for medical malpractice claims involving its clients; please don’t let him grow up to be an M.D.; Pennsylvania hospitals’ bill; MICRA and Prop 103; the March of Dimes wants Bendectin back; federal judge Loretta Preska in Manhattan throws out a major Dickie Scruggs case against the non-profit health sector; and a must-read article on defensive medicine. To explore all this and much more, follow the links provided or visit the site’s topical page on medicine and law.

Hospital infections, a real crime

How is Britain’s new Health Secretary, Patricia Hewitt, addressing public alarm about “superbug” infections in hospitals? In part by floating the idea of criminally prosecuting hospital personnel after infections break out. And of course prosecutors will never for a moment consider bringing such charges without strong evidence of culpable mens rea on the part of the hospital personnel. Right? (Andrew Sparrow, “Warning to hospitals over MRSA”, Daily Telegraph, May 16). Hat tip and thanks for the link: Michelle Malkin, May 16.