Florida Supreme Court Rules In Favor of Consumers In Med Mal Battle

A man sitting in the hospital with a broken legShould a person who’s suffered a grievous injury due to the mistake of a medical professional or hospital have the right to sue for the disfigurement, pain, and suffering (called non-economic damages) of that mistake?

That’s a question that has roiled the nation for years and led some states to consider capping damage awards.

Where does the concept of capping originate?

Doctors and hospitals have long advanced the idea. They claim such awards add immense costs to healthcare.

The State of Florida enacted such a cap in 2003, one intended to limit damage awards for just these kinds of losses.

Was that law appropriate, fair or constitutional?

The Florida Supreme Court has just issued a decision in this matter in a case involving a woman who had her esophagus mistakenly perforated during a surgery for carpal tunnel syndrome.

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When Are Hospitals Responsible For Medical Negligence?

Hospitals and medical negligenceJane suddenly suffers severe lower extremity trauma during a soccer tournament. Ben awakes with unrelenting chest pain and pressure. Mary, driving home from work, is hit head-on suffering multiple fractures and wounds. Jake develops flu symptoms one early evening. Many different situations can lead to a hospital or medical facility visit.   Often, the patient may choose the particular hospital or clinic. Rarely, however, do they have any choice in the doctor rendering care.

This is because patients usually have no prior relationship with hospital or clinic medical professionals. In such situations, patients often never see or meet the medical professionals making decisions regarding their care. Due to this, patients often believe that they are being treated by the facility’s employees and that the facility will be responsible for the care they receive.

However, by carefully drafting service contracts, medical facilities have tried to benefit from staffing highly trained medical professionals without being responsible for the quality of their care. This left patients with potentially inadequate resources to make them whole when injured by medical negligence. The question of whether medical facilities should be held responsible for medical professionals who act as part of their medical team began being raised in Connecticut’s trial courts.

For years, most trial courts answered this question “yes.” Those facilities had held certain professionals out as their own were liable for the actions of their “apparent agents” regardless of phantom agreements that stated otherwise. However, some courts took the hospital’s side, and people injured by medical negligence were forced to accept inadequate results.

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Would Your Hospital Admit A Medical Mistake?

Hopsitals' admission to medical mistakesIt’s estimated that medical errors cost the United States $19.5 billion a year – most of it in added medical costs. And that estimate is considered by many experts to be low.

It is also estimated that physicians in this country make 12 million serious diagnostic medical errors a year… and knowingly prescribe powerful and often toxic drugs that are ineffective 80% of the time.

The truth is that medical mistakes and malpractice are the third leading cause of death in this country[1].

Can anything be done to improve this situation?

Well what if your hospital had a strict policy of admitting when errors and medical malpractice occurred?

Actually – there are a few that do that voluntarily.

MedStar Health – a company operating 10 hospitals in the Baltimore, Washington D.C. area has a stated policy that “if the [need for further] care was preventable, we’re waiving bills…”

Sounds remarkable – right?

Sadly few hospital systems in the U.S. operate in such a transparent fashion. Sadder still is the cost to patients.   What happens to those people?

The fact is that of the many tens of thousands injured by medical mistakes each year – only a tiny percentage file a lawsuit to recover their losses.   For the vast majority – the cost of medical and rehab costs for the mistakes of their physicians and hospitals falls to them, the injured – often with catastrophic financial consequences.

“You would expect if [health-care providers] make the mistake, they would make you whole,” said Leah Binder, president of the Leapfrog Group, a nonprofit organization that grades hospitals on their record of preventing errors, injuries, accidents and infections. “But that is not what happens. In health care, you pay and you pay and you pay.”

Well there is a tiny glimmer of hope… some insurers are requiring that hospitals handle mistakes by providing all follow-up care for free. The industry group America’s Health Insurance Plans is one such group pushing for this reform.

Interestingly – research indicates that when healthcare providers are transparent about mistakes – patients are much less likely to sue… and that’s good for everyone.

If you or a loved one is ever the victim of a surgical error, a defective drug, the improper prescription of a drug therapy, over-exposure to medical radiation, a hospital acquired infection, a fall while in the hospital, a preventable blood clot, a misdiagnosis, or any form of medical malpractice, call a qualified Connecticut medical malpractice lawyer. A knowledgeable malpractice attorney can help to ensure that your rights are protected.

RisCassi & Davis has handled hundreds of medical malpractice cases over our 60 years serving the people of Connecticut.

What’s more, our Connecticut medical malpractice lawyers have received local and national recognition for our handling of these cases.

We have a great team of legal experts dedicated to medical malpractice in Connecticut.   Please contact us if we can help you. The consultation is free and there is no obligation of any kind.



Could the Error Rate during Surgery Really be This High?

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

Photo credit: thinkpanama / Foter.com / CC BY-NC

A new research study has just been published on what really happens during surgery. The study was done at one of America’s better hospitals and the report is disturbing.

Researchers at Harvard were anxious to understand how many medical mistakes are actually made just before, during and immediately after surgery.

What did they find?

Not what they expected.

Half of all surgeries involve medical errors and medical malpractice.


Another chilling fact… The study was conducted at Massachusetts General Hospital – considered by leading health authorities to be a U.S. leader in patient safety.

Not only did the Harvard team find a high error rate – mostly tied to medication errors – 30% of the errors resulted in significant patient harm.   Another 69% of the errors were defined as serious.

News of these results led one leading researcher at Yale to proclaim that “awareness of problems is where all solutions begin.”

So is the medical community just learning of the high rates of medical error (sometimes referred to as iatrogenesis) and medical malpractice for the first time?

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Bad Docs and the Harm They Cause

As in any profession – there are all-stars and there are those not so good (and those just plain bad).

That is as true in medicine as in any other field.

Did you know that according to recent research – 6% of all physicians are responsible for 58% of all medical malpractice payments?

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine estimated that 44,000 patients were killed annually (and many more injured) by medical errors? Just 12 years later – the journal HealthAffairs recalculated the data and concluded the number was closer to 450,000 per year. They also estimated that many hundreds of thousands more are injured each year by medical malpractice.

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What’s the Annual Death Rate from Medical Errors?

The question in our headline is actually one that was recently asked of consumers by researchers here in the U.S.

The most common answer they got… 5,000 a year.

That’s not even close.

The actual number may be as high as 800,000 deaths per year from medical malpractice and drug related injuries – just in the U.S.

What’s more, the number of those suffering harm short of death may number in the millions per year when one includes medical malpractice (including surgical errors) and death from drug side effects.   The Institute for Healthcare Improvement estimates the rate of medical harm to be over 40,000 each and EVERY day.

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What Medical Errors Are a Concern for 2015?

Sometimes it helps to know what experts inside an industry are thinking to know what dangers you should be on alert for…

So we’ve done some homework for you to see what safety concerns doctors have for 2015.  Here is their list:

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Medicine and the Law. What You Must Know.

The Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York School of Law has just released a report on the state of medicine and the law called Medical Malpractice: By The Numbers (September, 2014).  It’s findings are enlightening and disturbing.

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Wait… Hospital Profit Goes Up When They Make A Mistake?

Hospital errors lead to greater profit.Did you know your hospital’s profit can jump from $16,936 to $55,953 per patient when a surgical error is made?


According to a recent report in the Journal of the American Medical Association (JAMA),  a surgical complication increases a procedure’s average profit margin by 330 percent for the privately insured and 190 percent for Medicare patients.

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