Medical Malpractice News and Views

Latest from Medical Malpractice News and Views

Doctors are not immune to the rapidly changing world that faces all of us.  The 21st Century has brought stunning changes to the world and to nearly every aspect of American society.  As a driver of change, the Covid pandemic was the cherry on top of the sundae.  Many doctors long for the world of the last century when they were highly respected, paid exceedingly well and were the masters of their practices.  Those days are long gone.

The healthcare world is no longer controlled by doctors.  Instead, it is controlled by large health insurance companies, gargantuan hospital chains, Big
Continue Reading The World Has Changed For Doctors

Things may be changing down at the courthouse.  After years of consistent losses for people suing for medical malpractice, Arizona has recently seen some large jury verdicts in their favor.  There have been more multi-million dollar malpractice verdicts in the last 12 months than there were in many past years combined.  It is unclear whether this is a trend or whether it is just a coincidence.  If it is a trend, it is unclear what is driving it.

Historically, doctors and hospitals win 85-90% of the cases that get tried in Arizona.  The defense rate of success may be a
Continue Reading There May Be Something Going On Down At The Courthouse

“Disclosure of medical errors and adverse outcomes is expected by regulatory agencies and society as a whole.”  This is a quotation from an article I recently read in a peer-reviewed medical journal.  Peer-reviewed journals are the gold standard for medical journals and are the most reliable and authoritative publications in the field.  Despite what the authors wrote and despite the expectations of regulatory agencies and the public, medical errors and adverse outcomes are hidden far more often than they are disclosed.

Unless they are caught red-handed with an undeniable mistake, doctors will rarely admit to their patients that something went
Continue Reading Transparency and Disclosure – Not Going To Happen

I recently posted about what is called the “Medicare Advantage Trap,” which can make it economically impossible as a practical matter to switch from a Medicare Advantage (MA) plan to Traditional Medicare (TM), even though there is an open enrollment period each year in which eligible beneficiaries are supposed to be able to make such changes freely.  If ever there was a reason to be careful about committing to MA plans, that is an excellent one.  A recent survey of both MA and TM users has uncovered some other issues that should also be considered.

The survey was conducted in
Continue Reading Another Reason to Pause Before Enrolling in a Medicare Advantage Plan

I hate those television commercials that encourage you to “Call now!” or risk missing out on some unbeatable deal.  The deal will usually still be there tomorrow.  However, there is one time when “Call now!” makes a lot of sense and that is when you have, or even think you may have, a medical malpractice claim.  If you don’t “Call now,” you may find that it is too late to bring your case or at least too late to get a good lawyer to agree to take it for you.

Good medical malpractice lawyers don’t take every case that comes
Continue Reading Call Now!

A few weeks ago, a dear friend and close relative of my wife woke up one morning to find herself becoming paralyzed below the waist.  Her husband took her to the hospital where doctors struggled to figure out what was going on.  Almost all of the diagnoses they entertained involved some component of autoimmunity.  In autoimmune diseases, the body’s immune system goes haywire and attacks healthy organs or systems.  The final working diagnosis was Neuromyelitis Optica,  an autoimmune disease with a spectrum of presentations.  Her immune system was attacking her spinal cord.

There are over 80 different autoimmune diseases.  Some
Continue Reading The Rise of Autoimmune Diseases

Most people pray that they remain healthy.  Since we know it is unlikely we will always remain healthy, may I suggest a more practical prayer?  Pray you only get common diseases.

Before a doctor can treat you, she needs to figure out what ails you.  This involves the art of diagnosis, and it is an art.  Misdiagnosis, either the failure to accurately diagnose an illness or the failure to reach a diagnosis at all, is one of the leading causes of injuries due to malpractice that I see in my work.
When a doctor is confronted with a sick patient,
Continue Reading Pray You Always Get A Common Disease

Last week I wrote about medication mistakes in hospitals and the factors that make them so common and so deadly.  This week I want to write about the Tennessee nurse whose medication error killed a patient and who ended up being prosecuted and convicted in the death.

RaDonda Vaught was only two years into her nursing career in 2017 when she made a mistake that will haunt her for the rest of her life.  She was assigned to administer a sedative, Versed, to an elderly patient who was about to undergo an MRI scan and who was anxious about the
Continue Reading More On The Malpractice You Are Almost Powerless To Prevent

Over the years, I have suggested a number of strategies to prevent or at least reduce the risk that you will be the victim of medical malpractice.  There is one form of malpractice, however, that is very difficult to prevent.  It is the risk of a medication error while you are in the hospital.

Hospitals are complicated places.  Patients are constantly coming in and leaving.  Nurses are constantly coming on and off shift.  Many medical specialists may play a role in the care of a single patient.  All of these health care providers must communicate with each other in a
Continue Reading The Malpractice You Are Almost Powerless To Prevent

More and more eligible Americans are signing up for Medicare Advantage plans.  And why not?  Celebrity spokespeople promise low to no premiums and benefits not available under traditional Medicare.  It sounds almost too good to be true.  “Get the benefits you are entitled to.  Call now and an insurance specialist will take your call and explain this wonderful offer to you.”  Of course, as you should know by now, there is no such thing as a free lunch.

First, just a quick reminder of how Medicare Advantage works.  The companies that participate in the Medicare Advantage market are usually existing
Continue Reading The Medicare Advantage Trap

Superbugs!  That is the name given to antibiotic resistant bacteria.  Because of our indiscriminate use of antibiotics, more and more bacteria are developing resistance to them and posing an ever greater threat that we will be forced back to the bad old days before antibiotics when bacteria killed wide swaths of the population, especially the young and the infirm.  Already it is estimated that superbugs kill 5 million people a year and that this number will increase to 10 million by the year 2050.  10 million a year is one person every three seconds.

The rise of the antibiotic resistant
Continue Reading Maybe, Just Maybe, Science Will Save Us From The Superbugs

Doctors are only human.  They are prey to the same frailties that plague the rest of us.  Like the rest of us, some of them become addicted to alcohol or use narcotics or other substances that can affect their judgment and performance.  Unfortunately, when this happens, their human frailty can affect the health of those of us who are or who become their patients.

If you think you are unlikely to encounter an impaired physician, you are wrong.  Current estimates are that 10 to 15% of physicians will experience impairment due to alcohol or drugs at some point during their
Continue Reading The Impaired Physician

As you can probably guess, medical tourism is the name given to the practice of going to a foreign country for medical treatment, usually because it is cheaper there.  One of the most common treatments sought by medical tourists is cosmetic surgery and one of the most common places American medical tourists go is Mexico.  There are always risks associated with cosmetic surgery but they are much higher in Mexico.

Americans are nothing if not cost conscious.  Look at this advertisement.  Who could resist?  Affordable health care with a nearby beach and margaritas to boot.  What could go wrong?  The
Continue Reading Medical Tourism – Almost Always A Bad Idea

I have been writing lately about medical ethics, which are sometimes more ignored than followed.  The following are instances of doctors being greedy and trying to steal from insurance companies or from Medicare and Medicaid.  It doesn’t matter who you are or what you earn or what is your level of education.  Money can be tempting and some doctors, for a variety of reasons, find the temptation to be irresistible.  And remember, this is only the tip of the iceberg.

  • A Michigan doctor has been charged in a scheme along with a pharmacist to create fake prescriptions for specialty drugs

Continue Reading Doctors Who Steal

On the whole, capitalism has been good for the United States.  Lately, however, the rise of private equity companies and their incessant search for centers of profitability has put the medical profession under great strain and our health at risk.

Illustration:  The Smash And Grab Economy – Courtesy of Mother Jones
The basic rationale for private equity is that, through the choosing of wise investments, it can achieve returns substantially higher than those of the stock market.  Sometimes their tactics can be ruinous.  For example, a private equity company may buy a business with substantial assets, but which is not
Continue Reading The Private Equity Investor Will See You Now, But Only For A Few Moments

The United States is the only major developed nation in the world not to have universal health care.  We are the richest nation in the world.  Other nations can afford it and so can we.  It is not only a the right thing to do, it makes good economic sense as well.

No one should die because they cannot afford health care.  No one who works hard at a job and pays their bills should be forced into bankruptcy or into homelessness because of unexpected or large medical bills.  Seniors should not have to choose between the medicines they need
Continue Reading Universal Health Care, Please