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Friday, April 18, 2014

Parrish v. Jones: Another Pitfall for Plaintiff Medical Malpractice Cases?

By: Justin Madden
On December 4, 2013, the Ohio Supreme Court announced its opinion in Parrish v. Jones, wherein it affirmed an appellate decision to overturn a directed verdict in favor of a co- defendant in a medical malpractice trial, but on other grounds. The question arises whether Parrish helps ensure that meritworthy medical malpractice cases are resolved by juries, or whether Parrish creates another pitfall to upend a Plaintiff’s case on a technicality?

Background of the Parrish Case:
Karen Parrish was diagnosed by Dr. Jones for an acute peripheral-nerve disorder, and following her hospitalization, was transferred to a rehabilitation facility to be followed by Dr. Skocik. There was an alleged breakdown in communication between the doctors resulting in a failure to prescribe anticoagulation therapy. Consequently Karen developed a pulmonary embolism that caused her death.
Originally, Plaintiff named both doctors as defendants. The complaint alleged all of the basic elements necessary for a wrongful death medical malpractice claim. Later, Dr. Skocik was voluntarily dismissed, but was brought back in when an expert for Dr. Jones opined that Dr. Skocik was at fault for failing to provide anticoagulation therapy. The trial commenced in Ross County before a visiting judge with both doctors as defendants.
During opening statement, Plaintiff outlined his case against Dr. Jones, reciting every element of the cause of action against Dr. Jones. Then, moving on to Dr. Skocik’s role, Plaintiff stated as follows: 
Dr. Jones, through his attorneys, have [sic] hired a medical expert, Dr. Writ[e]sel, who I had mentioned, who will tell you that it was Dr. Skocik’s fault. That it was Doctor Skocik’s fault for not ordering the proper D.V.T. prophylaxis in time. I’ll let Dr. Skocik’s attorneys argue for Dr. Skocik about that. But, there is a reason for continuity of care forms. That’s the communication bridge between one doctor to the next so that the patient doesn’t get lost.

Med Mal Cap Violates Florida Constitution

Shared from ABA Journal
The Florida Supreme Court has ruled in a 5-2 opinion that the state’s cap on noneconomic damages in wrongful death cases violates the right to equal protection under the state constitution.
In a plurality opinion (PDF), Justice R. Fred Lewis also said the damages cap did not bear a rational relationship to an “alleged medical malpractice insurance crisis in Florida.” A legislative conclusion that the state was in the midst of such a crisis, threatening access to health care, “is dubious and questionable at the very best,” Lewis said.
Three concurring justices would find an equal protection violation, but did not agree with Lewis’ “expansive review” of the legislature’s policy findings.
The court ruled in response to certified questions by the Atlanta-based 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in a medical malpractice suit against the federal government. Michelle McCall, 20, died in 2006 after treatment by Air Force doctors during the birth of her son.
McCall’s estate, parents and the father of her son sued. They were awarded $2 million in noneconomic damages, but the amount was reduced to $1 million under the applicable cap.
The Florida law limits noneconomic damages in med-mal wrongful-death cases to $500,000 per claimant, but caps the aggregate award at $1 million.

Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act of 2014 – Safe Harbor for Physicians from Medical Malpractice Liability
Shared from
If a doctor injured you, would you want a jury of your peers to hear and decide your medical malpractice case?  Or would you rather a panel of doctors determine whether you had the legal right to pursue a case? A new House bill, sponsored by Rep. Andy Barr (R-KY), would provide doctors safe harbor against medical malpractice suits, by removing a plaintiff’s right to have their case heard in state courts.In a nutshell, the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act of 2014 goes something like this…Three Representatives – who are doctors – are co-sponsoring a new House bill that proposes safe harbor for doctors from malpractice suits by giving a panel of doctors the authority to make decisions about whether or not a lawsuit is valid under guidelines established by doctors.Supporters of the bill (1) package and present it as a tool to promote patient safety, but at its’ core, it is really a defense mechanism for doctors against medical liability litigation.

The bill is co-sponsored by 3 Representatives who practiced medicine before being elected.  Ami Bera, M.D. (D-CA), an internal medicine specialist, served as Chief Medical Officer for Sacramento County for 20 years.  Tom Price, M.D. (R-GA) is an orthopedic surgeon by trade.  David Phillip Roe, M.D. (R-TN) is an OB/GYN.
Under this bill, medical professional organizations, such as the American Congress of Obstetrician and Gynecologists and the AMDA-Dedicated to Long-Term Care (2),would establish universal clinical practice guidelines.  Those guidelines would then be used as a basis for allowing a medical professional named as a defendant in any healthcare liability suit to have the case moved from State court to Federal court.
Once removed to Federal court, the liability action would undergo a mandatory review by a medical review panel comprised of experts in specialties relevant to the case, and preferably from the geographic area where the case originated.  Both parties in the case would pay the panel for their time, regardless of the outcome.

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Diet Supplement causes nearly 100 Hepatitis cases

Shared from

By Rachael Rettner, Senior Writer
A popular diet supplement has caused an outbreak of severe liver disease, sickening nearly 100 people in 16 states since it was first reported in Hawaii last year, according to a new paper. The publication calls for a better system to remove dangerous supplements from the market.
As of February, OxyElite Pro, a dietary supplement manufactured by USPLabs that claims to help people burn fat, has been linked to 97 cases of hepatitis, including 47 people who were hospitalized, three who needed liver transplantations and one person who died, according to the paper, which was authored by Dr. Pieter Cohen, an assistant professor of medicine at Harvard Medical School and a general internist at Cambridge Health Alliance.
Although people who took the supplement started getting ill in May last year, the Food and Drug Administration did not learn of the cases until four months later, in September, when doctors reported a cluster of liver illnesses in Hawaii. USPLabs stopped selling the product in October.

Selling poison by the barrel: Liquid Nicotine for E-cigarettes

By: Matt Richtel
Shared from NY Times

A dangerous new form of a powerful stimulant is hitting markets nationwide, for sale by the vial, the gallon and even the barrel.

The drug is nicotine, in its potent, liquid form — extracted from tobacco and tinctured with a cocktail of flavorings, colorings and assorted chemicals to feed the fast-growing electronic cigarette industry.

These “e-liquids,” the key ingredients in e-cigarettes, are powerful neurotoxins. Tiny amounts, whether ingested or absorbed through the skin, can cause vomiting and seizures and even be lethal. A teaspoon of even highly diluted e-liquid can kill a small child.



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