March 16, 2010
For every injury or illness, there are a range of possible treatments. The (very crude) drawing below represents that range. At the left end of the scale is to “do nothing” and see if the injury gets better on its own. At the far right end of the scale is immediate surgery to try and correct the problem. The bracket in the middle represents treatment within the permissible standard of care for a hypothetical injury. For this hypothetical injury, it would be inappropriate to do nothing, and it would also be inappropriate to take the patient to surgery immediately. Medically appropriate treatments might include administering drugs, ordering an inexpensive diagnostic test, and ordering an expensive diagnostic test. Doctor Smith may be conservative with his treatment and decide to order an inexpensive diagnostic test, while Doctor Jones may be aggressive and order the administration of drugs and the expensive diagnostic test. While both doctors treated the same injury in different ways, neither doctor committed malpractice. More importantly, if Doctor Smith is afraid of being sued and orders the expensive test, we cannot say that his fear of being sued led him to order a medically unnecessary test. The worst we can say is that the tort system nudged the doctor towards being more cautious.
March 16, 2010
Myth No. 1: Rising healthcare costs can be tied to malpractice claims
According to the most reliable of sources, the projected costs of healthcare spending in 2009 were approximately $2.5 trillion – with a T. Of that, even including the costs of insurance premiums – figures that other studies have conclusively shown to be inflated without being tied to actual claims experience – the amount assignable to malpractice litigation is a mere 2 percent of the total.
The claim of inflated expenses due to so called defensive medicine, tests designed to get at the root of a problem and ensure for the patient as accurate a diagnosis as possible, are immeasurable and cannot be properly brought into the discussion without resorting to wholesale speculation.
Myth No. 2: Madison County-Judicial Hellhole
Reality sometimes intrudes on fantasy, and this is one sure case. Contrary to the popularly held belief, the Courts of Madison County have been among the most hostile to malpractice Plaintiffs in the State of Illinois. Case filings are down dramatically, even while announcements of new arrivals of physicians, the opening of hospital wings and the expansion of oft times competing specialty services fill the newspapers.
Truth be told, with the current litigation climate and juror attitude, no place is more hospitable to the negligent hospital or the clumsy surgeon than the Courts found in Edwardsville.
Myth No. 3: Malpractice premiums can be related to claims filed
Doctors in the Metro East have been consistently abused by their own captive insurance carrier, the Illinois State Medical Insurance Exchange – (ISMIE). Rates were set without regulation, and were naturally raised without remorse. Rather than focus on the real culprit, the strawman of the “frivolous lawsuit” – truly a myth given the oppressive costs involved for any such case – was created to deflect attention.
January 5, 2009
The fact is that the positive climate for doctors has resulted from strong, long suppressed insurance reforms, which were included in the legislation. That law has forced malpractice insurance companies to provide greater transparency on rate-setting and payouts that has, in turn, spurred competition, motivated more companies to enter the marketplace, and lowered premiums for doctors. Important to the discussion is the additional fact that Illinois’ largest malpractice insurer has reported that payouts have remained flat for the past 13 years. That same insurance carrier admitted in legislative hearings in 2005 that capping awards would not guarantee lower premiums for doctors.
September 24, 2008
One thing I have a difficult time in apprehending is how is it that unapproved drugs and solutions can find their way into the market place so easily? Isn’t the purpose of the Food & Drug Administration to oversee and make sure that food and drugs sold in the market are safe before they are found to be unsafe? It does not take much to know a product is unsafe when people have been hurt… Unless people are used in the testing of a product placed into the market place all with the FDA’s blessing.
All this just does not make sense to me.
The U.S. told companies to stop selling certain unapproved drugs used to irrigate eyes during surgery and to treat lesions such as diabetic ulcers, saying dangerous side effects had been associated with both products.The Food and Drug Administration warned it may act against companies that continue to sell ophthalmic balanced salt solution for the eyes and topical drugs containing papain, drawn from papayas, without regulatory approval, the agency said today in a statement.
After years of devoting few resources to unapproved drugs, FDA officials in 2006 said they would begin to crack down on the medicines. The agency has estimated they account for about 2 percent of prescriptions.
Companies selling unapproved versions of the eye drug and lesion treatment “have bypassed the requirement of the law and put consumers at risk,” said Deborah M. Autor, director of the FDA’s drug compliance office, on a conference call with reporters.
Unapproved versions of the eye drugs have been sold by Deerfield, Illinois-based Baxter International Inc., Lake Forest, Illinois-based Hospira Inc. and B. Braun Medical Inc., part of B. Braun Melsungen AG, a closely held company based in Melsungen, Germany, according to the FDA.
February 5, 2008
More than 20 local law firms have joined a new Chicago Bar Foundation initiative to support legal aid and pro bono efforts.”Law Firm Leadership Circle” membership requires firms to commit to several goals, including encouraging attorneys to annually complete at least 35 hours of pro bono work and donating at least $300 a year per attorney to legal-aid organizations.
The circle expands on the Chicago Bar Foundation’s efforts to ensure access to the justice system. There are fewer than 300 legal-aid attorneys who serve more than 1 million low-income residents in the Chicago area.
Last year, the foundation launched a fundraising campaign to supplement the incomes of legal-aid attorneys, collecting about $900,000 from law firms and corporations. This year’s campaign will be led by Dan Webb, chairman of Winston & Strawn.
January 17, 2008
Starting Jan. 1, when a buyer and seller sign a contract on residential real estate property in Illinois, the new Illinois Radon Awareness Act now applies to the sales transaction.According to the new law, the seller must supply the buyer with two documents before the buyer will become bound on a contract to purchase the property. One is a pamphlet from the Illinois Emergency Management Agency, “Radon Testing Guidelines for Real Estate Transactions.” The other is a form to sign called “Disclosure of Information on Radon Hazards.”Radon is an odorless, tasteless gas. It is formed from the radioactive decay of uranium, which is found in small amounts in most rocks and soil. Exposure to high levels of radon results in an increased risk of lung cancer, according to the IEMA.“The new radon law applies to residential properties from single-family homes to four-unit buildings,” said Kay Wirth, president of the Illinois Association of Realtors.The new law does not require sellers to test for radon in the home or to reduce the concentration if elevated levels are found. The seller and buyer may negotiate whether further testing or remediation are necessary. In most cases, a seller will simply provide the two documents to the buyer before the contract takes effect.If you have a contract pending that was signed before Jan. 1, the law does not apply.
January 12, 2008
rinity Regional Health System is implementing a plan to test more patients for a drug-resistant staph bacteria with hopes of eradicating it from its hospitals.
The germ is called MRSA, or methicillin-resistant Staphylococcus aureus. A new Illinois law requires hospitals to test intensive-care unit patients for the bacteria.
Carol Dwyer, who has a master’s degree in nursing and is Trinity’s vice president of hospital operations and chief nurse executive, said the health system this week expanded its testing to include the Terrace Park campus in Bettendorf, although Iowa does not have a law requiring it.
“Trinity came forward as a health care organization informing and educating the community about what MRSA is, how you get it, how to prevent it, how it’s treated and where it really originates,” Ms. Dwyer said.
January 6, 2008
The Chicago City Council on Jan. 1 imposed a first-in-the-nation 5-cent tax on bottled water sold in the city in the hopes of decreasing plastic waste and generating $10.5 million in revenue, the Chicago Sun-Times reported Saturday.
The lawsuit says the tax is illegal because it evades a state law prohibiting taxation on food consumed away from the establishment of purchase.
The suit states bottled water is not classified as a soft drink and should be therefore considered in the same group as milk, sports beverages and teas, a group not subject to tax.