Medical Malpractice News and Views

Latest from Medical Malpractice News and Views

The “just world” phenomenon is the name given to the tendency of human beings to believe that the world is just and that people get what they deserve.  It is a form of cognitive bias.  We all have this tendency to a certain extent, with some believing it more strongly than others.  We want to believe the world is fair.  We want to believe that if we work hard and follow the rules, we will be rewarded, or at least not punished.  It doesn’t always work out that way, of course.  Bad things sometimes happen to good people.  Bad people
Continue Reading The “Just World” phenomenon and the malpractice jury

Not all my practice is devoted to the representation of victims of medical malpractice.  I also represent people who suffer serious injuries in automobile accidents.  These cases often involve uninsured or underinsured motorist issues.  Of course, by the time I see the client and we discuss insurance issues, they either had uninsured and underinsured motorist coverage at the time of the accident or they did not.  It is too late to get it by the time they are sitting in my office.

Let’s get some of the basics out of the way.
Uninsured motorist coverage (UM) and underinsured motorist
Continue Reading Why You Need Uninsured and Underinsured Motorist Coverage.

That was the message to employees of a dermatology practice in the Midwest that had been purchased by a hedge fund.  The bosses at the hedge fund were encouraging the employees of the dermatology practice to get more patients scheduled before the end of the month to qualify for some performance bonuses.  It didn’t matter to the bosses at the hedge fund whether good medicine required the appointments or whether the appointments were necessary or whether the appointments were in the best interests of the patients.  All that mattered to the bosses were that the appointments were scheduled so that
Continue Reading “Get That Money.”

My granddaughter and I were looking at songs in a folk singing book the other day and one of them was “Sweet Molly Malone.”  If you know the song, you know Molly was a fishmonger in old Dublin, who died of a “faver” and no one could save her.  I had to stop and explain to my granddaughter that only 100 years ago, people died young of fevers and illnesses because they did not have the antibiotics we take for granted today.

A child born in the United States in 1920 had a life expectancy of around 55 years.  If
Continue Reading Are We Headed Back to the Bad Old Days?

Recently, the Arizona Supreme Court changed the rules relating to jury selection in both civil and criminal cases.  The rule changes will take effect next month.  They may have a big effect on medical malpractice trials.

Under the old rules, when lawyers were picking a jury, there were two kinds of challenges the lawyers could use to strike potential jurors from the panel.  The first kind of challenge is one for cause.  If a juror was biased in favor of or against one of the parties or could not be fair to both parties, the trial lawyer could ask the
Continue Reading Changes are coming to malpractice trials

Wrong site surgeries are in the news again.  Wrong site surgery occurs when a surgeon operates on a part of the body that was not intended to be the target of the surgery.  While most cases of wrong site surgery involve operating on the wrong side of the body – think left knee instead of right knee or right eye instead of left eye – there are other forms, such as where a spine surgeon operates on the wrong level of the spine.  Whether they are in the news or not, wrong site surgeries are a vexing and continuing problem
Continue Reading Wrong-site surgeries a continuing problem

America, we are letting ourselves go and it is costing us.  It is costing us in terms of rising health care costs, loss of quality of life and shortening of life expectancy itself.  We are getting fat and flabby.  We are smoking less, thank goodness, but eating more and eating the wrong foods to boot.  All this is causing a huge rise in obesity, even among children.  With obesity comes Type 2 diabetes.  It is a bad customer and we should all do what we can to avoid it.  This is a self-inflicted injury, if there ever was one.

Continue Reading The Type 2 Diabetes Epidemic

Recently, I was stuck in front of a television that was showing a nature program.  Every few minutes, it was advertisement time.  Because this was early November and Medicare beneficiaries can change their Medicare plans at this time of year, almost all of the ads were devoted to that subject.  Each featured some well-known performer who urged me to call immediately to see if I was eligible for a Medicare Advantage plan that offered more benefits than traditional Medicare and might even pay me to join.  For those keeping score, this sounds almost too good to be true.  As usual,
Continue Reading Hey, Medicare Beneficiaries, There Is No Free Lunch!

“Practice makes perfect.”  How often have we heard that old bromide?  Perhaps the main reason it has lasted so long is that there is a lot of truth to it.  There certainly is when the subject is medical procedures.

When it comes to quality medical care, I am fortunate to live in a big city with a number of excellent hospitals within a short drive.  While there is a lot of good to be said about living in a small town, outstanding surgical care is not one of them.  Many surgeries are complex, even the ones we often think of
Continue Reading Practice makes perfect – in hospital care, too

It is an article of faith among doctors that medical malpractice juries are anti-doctor, incompetent to resolve medical questions and overly generous to patients who bring lawsuits.  They have been making the same complaints for the last 50 years at least.  As someone who has been trying cases for almost 50 years, in the old days on behalf of doctors and hospitals but for the last 35 years on behalf of injured patients, I can say with confidence that almost exactly the opposite is true.  This is not just my opinion.  Almost every well-researched study of malpractice juries over the
Continue Reading The Truth About Medical Malpractice Juries

The way in which hospitals bill their patients is a sin.  It ought to be against the law, but it is not.  Hospitals can charge whatever they want for a medical procedure and often do.  Some studies have found that even the hospitals themselves don’t know how much it costs them to perform a procedure; they just pull numbers out of the air.   That is not a sound way to run a business but is not far off from normal in the convoluted world of American health care.

Until recently, hospitals kept their prices a secret.  Obviously, if prices were
Continue Reading Hospital billing practices can send you to the poorhouse

I don’t suppose it has ever been different over the course of human history, but our society is unequal.  More and more research studies are “finding” that inequality makes a big difference in how healthy you are and how long you will live.  When you think about it, the reasons are pretty obvious.

Where do you live?  Your neighborhood plays a role in your health.  Are there green spaces nearby?  If there are that is a positive for health, even among communities of equal income.   Higher income people usually live in better neighborhoods with more amenities than do those
Continue Reading Want To Live A Long And Healthy Life? Be Born Rich.

I can’t drive down the street without seeing lawyers advertising for personal injury cases.  Their faces stare out at me from the sides of buses, from billboards and from bus stop shelters.  I can’t watch the television for more than a few minutes without seeing lawyers advertising for personal injury cases.  You pick a show, they advertise on it.   Unless you are blind, you see all this advertising too.
After over 45 years of trying cases and representing people injured by the negligence of others, I know who is good and who is not.  I know that many of these
Continue Reading The Importance of Hiring a Certified Specialist in Personal Injury and Wrongful Death

There is a doctor whose work is very important to your health.  Her decisions may be the difference between life and death for you.  Her decisions may determine if you undergo surgery.  Her decisions may determine what drugs you receive.  You never see her because she works in a laboratory.  She is a pathologist.

The pathologist has an important role in the practice and science of medicine.  When tissue is removed during a surgery or when a tissue sample is taken of a suspicious area, these samples are sent to the pathology lab where a pathologist examines them to determine
Continue Reading The Important Doctor You Never See

The physician/patient relationship is one of the most important in our lives.  We place our lives and our trust in the hands of the physicians who provide medical treatment to us and our families.  We want to believe that they are well-trained, honest, ethical, and have our best interests at heart when they make medical decisions and provide care.  As much as we want to believe these things, it is important to remember that physicians are human beings and, as human beings, are flawed.  Sometimes, their human nature means that they betray our trust.  Somehow we need to balance our
Continue Reading Be Careful

A diagnosis of melanoma was often a death sentence.  It was and remains today one of the most dangerous of the skin cancers.  However, as science has marched on, there have been a number of developments in prevention, diagnosis and treatment, which make this disease a lot less lethal.

We know a lot more about how melanoma develops than we did even 10 years ago.  If you are of a certain age group (looking at you, Boomers), you grew up without sunscreens.  No summer was complete without at least one or two sunburns so bad your skin peeled off.  We
Continue Reading Advances in Diagnosis and Treatment of Melanoma