Sunday, October 27, 2013

Medical malpractice insurer opposes med mal reform proposal in Tennessee

Day on Torts is reporting that a group of healthcare administrators in Georgia is pushing for a new law which would move medical malpractice claims out of the courts and into an administrative no-fault system for awarding limited compensation for victims of medical malpractice. Those supporting the legislation say that the new system, which would be similar to a worker's compensation system, would reduce healthcare costs.  Aside from the fact that reports have always shown a minimal (if any) correlation between litigation costs and health care costs (see here for more on that issue), Day on Torts reports that medical malpractice insurer MAG Mutual opposes the proposal because it claims that the bill would result in more claims, higher costs, more reporting, higher taxes and more bureaucracy.  Day on Torts makes a good argument in support of that view here.

Another comment on the NFL settlement

I previously posted some news and comments on the NFL settlement on the lawsuit filed by former football players and their families related to concussion injuries.  See here and here, for example.  Here is a link to a more recent comment which is very critical of the league and which laments the negative consequences of the settlement.  Here is an example of what the authors want to say:
NFL Commissioner Roger Goodell ... disingenuous portrayal of the league's concern about the health and safety of the players is incredible at best. His assertion that the league has been forthcoming with medical information as it has become available, defies credulity. Goodell's unbelievable contention that the league has acted in good faith and has not misled the players, flies in the face of reality. 
Further, they argue that the NFL promulgated reports deliberately designed to mislead the players and the public and that the settlement "was indeed a major victory for the league, but a travesty for the players."  You can read the full comment here.

On the risks created by "self-driving cars"

First we heard about cars that could park themselves.  Now there are a cars that brake for you.  And the next big thing are cars that drive themselves.  Sort of.  And, as you would expect, there is a lot of discussion out there about whether these "improvements" might actually create more risks.  Here is a link to a recent article on the subject.  Its main point is the most dangerous moment in a self driving car is the moment when it has to turn over the controls to the human driver:  "Thrust back into control while going full-speed on the freeway, the driver might be unable to take stock of all the obstacles on the road, or she might still be expecting her computer to do something it can't. Her reaction speed might be slower than if she'd been driving all along, she might be distracted by the email she was writing or she might choose not to take over at all, leaving a confused car in command. There's also the worry that people's driving skills will rapidly deteriorate as they come to rely on their robo-chauffeurs."

Friday, October 25, 2013

Report: surgeons leave medical devices inside patients after surgery more often than is generally believed

A new report suggests that surgeons and other health care professionals leave medical devices inside of patients after surgery more often than is generally believed, particularly sponges and broken tool parts. Go here for more information and a link to the report.

Monday, October 21, 2013

Hot Coffee

The website "RetroReport" updates or revisits old stories.  Today's retro report is about the famous (or infamous, depending on your point of view) McDonald's Hot Coffee case.  For more links on alternative interpretations of the importance of the case, continue reading below the video:

The point of the report is that there is more to the story.  Which is true.  But there is more than that too.  For a lot more information and a view of the case from different perspectives watch the documentary Hot Coffee and then go to the Abnormal Use blog (here) and scroll down. 

PS:   I originally stated that the website Retro Report is affiliated with the New York Times.  It isn't.  You can read more about RetroReports here.

Wednesday, October 9, 2013

Another chapter in the story about doctors who testify for insurance companies

Here is an entertaining transcript of the cross examination of a doctor who testified as to the standard of the profession in a case, only that he admitted the standard he was using was not set by the profession but based on what the insurance company that was paying his fees told him.  The transcript of the cross examination gives you a very good example of how to handle a witness like that.

Supreme Court rejects case in which the drugmaker argued that state courts don't have authority to recognize punitive damages because of preemption

A few days ago I reported that Novartis had asked the US Supreme Court to decide that state courts are preempted from imposing punitive damages against pharmaceutical companies based on the notion of preemption.  See the post directly below this one.  Well, it didn't take long for the Court to decide.  Pharmalot is reporting today that the Court decided to deny review of the case.  This means that, for now at least, product liability claims for punitive damages related to injuries caused by prescription drugs are not preempted in state courts.  Pharmalot has the details here.

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Supreme Court asked to decide whether state courts are preempted from imposing punitive damages against pharmaceutical companies

Pharmaceutical company Novartis has filed a petition before the Supreme Court asking the Court to rule that state courts are precluded from imposing punitive damages based on preemption. Novartis has acknowledged that the Supreme Court has held that a cause of action against a pharmaceutical company is not preempted but Novartis maintains the decision does not apply to punitive damages.  Pharmalot has more information about the case here.

Saturday, October 5, 2013

Podcast on whether there can be liability for texting a driver

I recently reported that the Appellate Division of New Jersey Superior Court decided that a person who sends a text to a driver can be liable for damages caused by the driver if the driver is distracted by the text if the texter knew that the recipient was driving and reading texts while driving.  Here is a link to a 30 minute podcast discussing the case.

Friday, October 4, 2013

$1.7 Million dollar verdict set aside because of contributory negligence

Back in August, I criticized the decision in Maryland to retain the archaic and unfair notion of contributory negligence (see here and here).  Now comes news that the doctrine has been used to set aside a $1.7 million verdict. 

Following three weeks of trial and two days of deliberations, in the second trial out of more than 3,000 Actos lawsuits pending nationwide, a Maryland jury found that Takeda Pharmaceutical’s failed to adequately warn physicians about the risk of bladder cancer from their popular diabetes drug and awarded nearly $1.77 million in damages. However, the court entered a verdict for the defendant because the jury also found that the plaintiff failed to exercise reasonable care for his own health.

Go here for the full story.