Don't Buy into These Four Myths about Tort Reform

Medical malpractice attorneys are refuting the notion that claims are out of control. Many lawmakers, insurance companies, and medical practitioners, however, are championing tort reform, which seeks to place limitations on litigation or damages awarded in civil claims. These non-legislative proceedings have long been a way for individuals who have suffered harm to gain compensation from those responsible.

Tort reform proponents, however, believe (or would like the rest of us to believe) that medical malpractice claims pose undue hardships to doctors, insurance companies, the legal system, and the economy. Their messages often capitalize on several misconceptions about tort litigation, including:

•    Medical liability expenses hurt the economy. According to the Harvard School of Public Health, the United States spent $55.6 billion, or 2.4 percent, of 2008’s healthcare spending on “medical liability costs.”

•    High claims payouts lead to financial burdens on medical malpractice insurance companies. Regardless of whether a state imposes caps on claims payouts, insurance companies continue to rake in enormous earnings. For example, between 2003 and 2010, insurance companies in Florida reported 4300 percent profits, a staggering amount that should leave no question as to their profitability.

•    We need damages caps in medical malpractice cases to keep insurance costs down. According to a ruling by the Florida Supreme Court, no apparent correlation between medical malpractice settlement caps and insurance rates exists. The American Association for Justice further cites several sources that attribute high insurance rates to stock speculation and “mismanagement” of insurance company resources.

•    Healthcare providers will abandon states without medical malpractice caps for states that do. This myth is based on the faulty premise (see #3) that caps lower insurance rates. According to the American Association for Justice, the overall number of practicing physicians in every state has been steadily increasing.

Examining these falsehoods propagated by tort reform enthusiasts seems to reveal either a lack of understanding in the financial realities of medical malpractice claims, or a determination to increase profits for insurance companies at the expense of vulnerable patients.

The medical malpractice attorneys at Regan, Zambri & Long have been working with clients for many years to obtain fair and equitable compensation for those who have suffered harm. If you or someone you know has suffered from medical malpractice, contact us today to set up a free consultation.
 

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Medical Malpractice Caps Limits Overturned in Florida

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and partner

Picture of Salvatore J. Zambri

For years, supporters of so-called tort reform claimed that the costs of medical care would decrease drastically if recoveries in medical malpractice lawsuits were limited. These anti-civil-justice advocates suggest that capping damages in cases would cause doctors to order less tests, reduce their medical malpractice premiums, and make frivolous lawsuits disappear. A number of states bought that theory and enacted laws designed to control medical malpractice lawsuits. Recent rulings and statistics show that "tort-reform" harms Americans. 

As recently reported in the Miami Herald, according to the National Conference of State Legislatures, thirty-five states cap the amount of money that can be awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. Supporters of medical malpractice caps limits proclaimed that the excessive number of frivolous lawsuits were creating a "malpractice crisis" that drove insurance rates sky-high and forced doctors to leave the state. As a result, caps were enacted.

Florida's Supreme Court recently ruled that those laws were unconstitutional and violated the equal protection guarantee under the state's constitution. Prior to this ruling, Florida limited the amount of recovery for most patient deaths due to medical negligence to $1 million and non-economic damages to $500,000. The ruling did not address the caps limits where the patient didn't die. The court questioned whether the alleged crisis that led to the caps limit ever existed. The court concluded that not only was there no crisis, but that the creation of lawsuit caps enriched insurance companies at the expense of doctors and patients. According to the ruling, during the time that the law was in effect, insurance companies continued to charge excessive premiums to doctors. Any savings that may have resulted from the caps was never passed on to doctors or consumers.

"The most recent records and reports of the Florida Office of Insurance Regulation, and the annual reports of medical malpractice insurers, confirm that not only has the number of insurers providing medical malpractice coverage increased...the profits would probably shock most concerned.

Indeed, between the years of 2003 and 2010, four insurance companies that offered medical malpractice insurance reported an increase in their net income of more than 4300 percent."

The court wrote, "The cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members." According to the executive director of the Florida Justice Association, "Caps on damages are fundamentally unfair to the victims of medical negligence."

Florida is not the only state where caps on medical malpractice damages hurt Americans. In 2003, Texas passed a malpractice law that capped damages at $250,000.  By 2009, reports indicated that Texas had the highest healthcare costs in the country and Medicare payments rose faster than anywhere else in the country.

As more states realize that artificial caps on medical malpractice claims are unfair to patients and their families who suffer from catastrophic injuries and damages from medical negligence, caps will be eliminated and the evaluation of damages will be returned to juries, as the Constitution of the United States requires.

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Rogue Doctors Go Undisciplined By States

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior trial attorney.             

State Medical Boards are utterly failing to discipline physicians who have been sanctioned by hospitals for a variety of reasons, including committing medical errors.  A report shows that "63 percent of the doctors whose hospital privileges were restricted or revoked were not disciplined by the state's Board of Medicine."  This should be unacceptable.

The best way to reduce medical costs is to reduce medical errors.  To reduce medical errors, there needs to be greater oversight by the states' medical boards.

I hope this study compels the boards to do a better of job going forward.  Otherwise, patient safety is at risk. 

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2011)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Malpractice "Reform" Increases US Deficit

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior trial attorney.             


Writing for the Huffington Post, Joanne Doroshow of the Center for Justice and Democracy remarked on a March analysis from the Congressional Budget Office tat found that savings from malpractice "reforms" would be minimal. Doroshow pointed out that "reforms" imposed by HR 5, which includes a $250,000 non-economic damage cap, will actually increase the US deficit.  Doroshow explained that malpractice victims who are arbitrarily barred from obtaining compensation through litigation will turn to avenues like Medicare and Medicaid. The CBO's prediction that reform will reduce health spending by 0.4 percent does not account for this deficit increase.  The CBO also fails to consider "that these kinds of extreme 'tort reforms' would weaken the deterrent potential of the tort system, with accompanying increases in cost and physician utilization inherent in caring for newly maimed patients," says Doroshow.

Ms. Doroshow's big-picture understanding of this important issue helps Americans understand that the real driving force behind reducing citizens' rights in court is not about decreasing healthcare spending at all.  It's about Big Business trying to pad their profits at the expense of patient safety.

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2011)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com. 

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Malpractice Cap Rejected As Senseless In New York

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior trial attorney.             


The New York Times (3/16, Kaplan) reports that the two "houses of the State Legislature passed budgets on Tuesday that rejected  crucial provisions of Gov. Andrew M. Cuomo's overhaul of Medicaid ... drawing sharp battle lines with the governor two weeks before the deadline to pass a spending plan." The Assembly's plan "rejects a cap on damages for pain and suffering in medical malpractice lawsuits, which was a key provision sought by hospitals to offset a sharp reduction in Medicaid financing from the state." The plan from the Senate includes a damages cap.  Cuomo "did not comment after the budget votes."

We congratulate the New York State legislature for recognizing that an artificial cap has no place in American society.  The civil justice system, by the power of the Constitution, allows a patient who has been injured by a medical error to receive full and fair compensation for the patient's harms and losses.  Governments should not arbitrarily set values of claims.  The extent of a patients harms and losses are rightfully assigned by citizens after they hear and view all of the relevant evidence.

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2011)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Tort Reform Is Civil Justice Deform

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior trial attorney.             

An editorial in the Des Moines Register points out that proponents of medical malpractice reform "don't acknowledge many doctors order tests because they're trying to do a thorough job with patients. They rarely mention too much testing is a result of this country's "fee for service" system of paying doctors." Moreover, "current tort reform efforts aimed at reducing malpractice risk would be relatively ineffective in alleviating physicians' concern about lawsuits and therefore may not alter defensive medicine practices," a University of Iowa study concluded. Des Moines neurosurgeon and tort reform proponent Dr. Thomas Carlstrom echoed this point, saying lawsuit damage caps wouldn't curb what the called his practice of "Cover You're A-" medicine.

Even doctors admit that capping damages and promulgating so-called tort reform won't meaningfully reduce medical costs and insurance premiums.  Insurance reform is what is needed.  Victims of negligence--those that suffer greatly as a result of medical errors--are all-to-often forced to live with significant pain, physical impairments, and loss of enjoyment o f life.  Their rights and legal protections should not be taken from them too.

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2011)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com.

 

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Is The Chamber of Commerce Hypocritical Regarding Lawsuits?

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding member and senior attorney     

For years now, the Chamber of Commerce has been spending millions upon millions of dollars trying to limit peoples' right to seek justice through the court system when they have been victimized by corporate greed and wrongdoing.   Yet, the Chamber itself utilizes the court system to advance its own selfish agenda multiple times every single week.

This hypocrisy was noted in a recent publication by the Association for Justice.  Here is a reproduction of some of that report:

Washington, D.C.--Earlier this month, U.S. Chamber of Commerce President and CEO Tom Donohue called litigation "one of our most powerful tools for making sure that federal agencies follow the law and are held accountable." 

Yet ironically, the Chamber today holds its annual Legal Reform Summit – an event underwritten by its multinational corporate members that promotes undermining the civil justice system to weaken the basic legal protections of American workers and consumers.

The Chamber's hypocrisy – blocking justice for everyday Americans while using the courts liberally for its own pro-corporate agenda – is the subject of a new report released today by the American Association for Justice (AAJ) that exposes the Chamber as one of the most aggressive litigators in Washington, entering lawsuits at a rate of over twice weekly.

"The Chamber's 'one rule for corporations, another rule for everybody else' motto has come at the expense of ill-treated workers, defrauded investors and injured consumers," said AAJ President Gibson Vance. "It readily spends millions of dollars to prevent Americans from holding wrongdoers accountable in the courtroom, and then aggressively uses the very same legal system to advance the agenda of its multinational corporate membership."

In almost every case, the Chamber's litigation on behalf of corporations has come at the expense of Americans' health or financial security. The Chamber has:

  • justified the actions of Wall Street banks that drove the country's economy into turmoil; • defended the most conceited and worst behaved CEOs and their most extravagant excesses;
  • tried to force workers, instead of employers, to pay for their own safety equipment; • filed numerous actions opposing any move to combat climate change;
  • sought to shield pharmaceutical executives who skirted safety procedures that ultimately killed 11 children;
  • opposed measures allowing workers to receive a rest period during a full work day;
  • fought on behalf of lead paint manufacturers found to have poisoned thousands of children;
  • defended corporations that discriminated on the basis of race and disability; and
  • spent years defending big tobacco, asbestos companies and chemical companies found to have contaminated water and air.

"The Chamber has every right to seek what it believes to be justice in a court of law, even if representing the most deplorable corporate interests," said Vance. "But it must learn that this right to justice belongs not just to their organization, or big business generally, but to all Americans."

The report, titled "The Chamber Litigation Machine: How the Chamber Uses Lawsuits to Keep Americans out of Court," can be found by clicking here.

Don't let the Chamber or other special interests fool you.  Contact your local and federal legislators and fight for your rights.

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri was recently (2011 edition) acknowledged as one of the "Best Lawyers in America" by Best Lawyers, and has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in the country.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Our tax dollars to study "tort reform" - What about patient safety?

                                                                                      

                                                                                                 By Catherine D. Bertram

Massachusetts obtained a $3 million grant to study "alternatives" to a consumer's 7th Amendment right to a jury trial when it comes medical malpractice claims.  The grant is part of a U.S. Department of Health and Human Services program to investigate ways to improve compensation for people injured by medical errors and has a secondarily identified goal of  lowering malpractice insurance premiums.

One of the grant's goals is to "ensure that patients are compensated in a fair and timely manner for medical injuries, while also reducing the incidence of frivolous lawsuits."    We can save significant tax payer funds and save many lives by doing what the Institute of Medicine suggested more than 10 years ago, in the 1999 report called "To Err Is Human" -- focus on patient safety and preventing patient injuries during the delivery of health care.   Please leave consumers' constitutional rights alone.  For  more than 10 years it has been common knowledge that 98,000 patients die year year from preventable errors during the delivery of health care.  This study does nothing to reduce that shocking statistic.   That is the correct goal and the only goal that will result in less harm and less need to compensate consumers who have been injured due to the fault of others. 

It sounds great to talk about reducing frivolous lawsuits, but as tax payers and patients what we need to ask is where is the data that demonstrates there are "frivolous" medical malpractice claims being filed and more importantly, where is the evidence that such meritless cases result in significant awards that are paid?  

There are procedural requirements in place that safeguard against consumers filing cases without expert support.   In Maryland and Virginia, consumers and their lawyers have to have written reports from qualified medical experts in hand before pursuing a medical malpractice claim.  In the District of Columbia, the injured consumer is required by law to send a detailed notice letter to the heath care provider outlining the claim before the lawsuit can even be filed.  

Putting laws in place to limit damages simply shifts the burden of paying for a lifetime of care away from the wrongdoer and back onto the U.S. tax payer.  It does nothing to try to make health care safer.  What it does is protect insurance companies from paying out legitimate claims after a jury has determined that the patient was entitled to compensation to balance the harms done.   That patient is still permanently injured and in most circumstances cannot work.  That patient still needs a lifetime of care.  Who pays for that care?  We do and we have still done nothing to reduce these claims and make health care safer.   How tragic.

Continue Reading Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Are Hospitals Safe?

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

Carol Diemert, a nursing practice specialist, and Carrie Mortrud, a governmental affairs and public policy specialist with the Minnesota Nurses Association, write in a Minneapolis Star Tribune (7/27) commentary, "Inside the walls of Twin Cities acute care hospitals, all is not as healthy as the public relations flacks would have you believe," and "their own consultants have issued a report that substantiates the internal turmoil nurses describe." They argue that "hospitals aren't as safe as they claim because they collect incomplete data, allowing them to be opaque about the realities nurses witness." Diemert and Mortrud say that "hospitals...need to be regulated regarding appropriate staffing," and conclude that the current system "operates on the backs of nurses' professional ethics, valuing profit over care, seriously challenging every nurse's core value of caring for patients in a safe environment."

These sentiments are shared by nurses and health-care providers throughout the country.  Until our medical system puts patients over profits, medical errors will continue to kill and severely injure hundreds of thousands of people each year.  The deaths, alone, caused by medical errors amount to nearly 100,000, according to the Institute of Medicine.  This trend must end.

 

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Attorney says civil remedies drive product safety improvements.

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

In a column in the Asian Journal (7/24), Atty. C. Joe Sayas, Jr. wrote, "Legal remedies protect the lowly consumer against big companies who put profits over the public good. The factual history of the American civil justice system shows how the courage of these consumers and their attorneys who waged these legal fights...advanced the cause of product safety." Sayas presents several product safety "cases compiled by the American Association for Justice," commenting "it is difficult to imagine how these safety changes could have been made if the manufacturers of these products were not held accountable in our civil courts."

Thomas Jefferson said to Thomas Paine in 1789, "I consider trial by jury the only anchor ever yet imagined by man, by which a government can be held to the principles of its constitution."  He recognized that access to the court system was needed, too, in order to hold private entities accountable for the harms they commit to people.  I am very lucky to be part of a profession that  gives a voice to people who otherwise could not be heard.

 

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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AAJ Fights Back Against Chamber's Mission to Limit Access To Justice

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     


The BLT: Blog of Legal Times (7/23, Levine) reported, "Legal groups have been in the thick of legislative fights to overhaul the financial regulatory system and change liability laws in the wake of the oil spill, though their lobbying spending varies widely. Disclosure reports filed this week show the US Chamber's Institute for Legal Reform spent $3.75 million and the trial lawyers' group, the American Association for Justice, spent $1 million, lobbying on dozens of proposals in the second quarter of the year." Linda Lipsen, "the chief executive officer and lead lobbyist for AAJ, said the group is now focused on legislation related to the oil spill. 'I think that right now, our attention is on what's going on in the Gulf Coast, and making sure that victims of the disaster emanating from the oil spill are fully compensated,' she said.

The Chamber has a history of spending a tremendous amount of money in an effort to limit people's access to justice to pad the profits of corporate executives.  The good, decent, honest corporate executives deserve the salaries they earn, but no laws should be made to augment those profits to the detriment of community safety and justice.

Do you have any questions about this post?

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Board-Certified Civil Trial Attorney and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area. The magazine also acknowledged him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims. Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine (2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 
 

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Is Patient Safety Really ACOG's Priority? ACOG relaxes guidelines for VBAC

By Catherine Bertram

                                                                                                             

The American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists has issued revised guidelines regarding when to offer a woman a vaginal birth when she had previously delivered a baby via cesarean section, or VBAC.  Nationally, less than one in ten women undergo VBAC; the rest undergo an elective c-section.  While the revised guidelines require the physician to discuss each procedure's risks and benefits with the patient, there are subtle changes in the wording of the guidelines that patients will not notice that could impact the safety of the mother and baby.

The ACOG guideline states as follows in part:  "Women and their physicians may still make a plan for a TOLAC in situations where there may not be "immediately available" staff to handle emergencies, but it requires a thorough discussion of the local health care system, the available resources, and the potential for incremental risk. 'It is absolutely critical that a woman and her physician discuss VBAC early in the prenatal care period so that logistical plans can be made well in advance,' said Dr. Grobman. And those hospitals that lack "immediately available" staff should develop a clear process for gathering them quickly..."

VBAC carries a recognized but rare risk of uterine rupture which is a serious complication for the mother and the child.   Uterine rupture requires emergency surgery and can  threaten the life of the mother and the child.  ACOG previously recommended that VBAC only occur in hospitals with emergency anesthesiologists and surgeons immediately available to deal with uterine rupture.  In this revised guideline the language has changed, but what about the risks for the mother and the baby?  Have those changed or is this relaxed new guideline a result of pressure on hospital and physicians to allow this procedure to be performed in hospitals where trained anesthesiologists and surgeons are not physically present in the hospital.   Are parents being told about this subtle but important change? How soon can the anesthesiologist get to the hospital?  Minutes matter for both baby and mother in these rare but extremely serious circumstances.

ACOG attributes this to "the onerous medical liability climate for ob-gyns".   There is only a claim for liability when a mother or baby are injured due to the negligence of the physician or hospital staff.   In fact, if a physician adequately explains the risk of uterine rupture in VBAC including the alternatives and her delivery is appropriately managed then the physician is not liable for any uterine rupture that is beyond his or her control. What this new relaxed guideline does is tries to allow hospitals without anesthesiologists and surgeons in the hospital at all times to perform VBAC.  The question is whether families understand the risk that this provides and whether they are being allowed to choose to go where surgeons and anesthesia teams are readily available in the hospital.  The goal of ACOG should be to educate physicians about when VBAC is clinically appropriate and also teach them how to counsel patients about their options.  Of course parents should be completely informed of their options and the risks associated with those options, including whether the anesthesiologist and surgeon are immediately available.  All of the risks need to be discussed with the patient or they have not been provided a fair chance to make the best choice for their family.  Even if that means the safest choice for baby and mom is to deliver at another hospital. 

Continue Reading Posted In Obstetrics , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Errors More Deadly Than Car and Truck Acidents Combined

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The DC Department of Health recently released a report, making clear that medical errors are killing more DC residents than all types of car and truck accidents combined.  Per the February, 2010 report, "The leading causes of preventable death in the District of Columbia...were tobacco use (estimated 860 deaths; 16.6 percent of total DC resident deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (estimated 780 deaths; 15.1 percent), microbial (infectious) agents—excluding HIV—(estimated 240 deaths; 4.6 percent), alcohol consumption (estimated 150 deaths; 2.9 percent), firearms (estimated 140; 2.7 percent), and medical errors (estimated 140 deaths; 2.7 percent). 

According to the comprehensive study and report, motor vehicle accidents account for .6% of the overall deaths in DC--that's 4.5 times less than the deaths caused by preventable medical errors.

The complete report can be viewed by clicking here.

There is a lot of discussion in politics about "tort reform".  The term--"tort reform"--is actually a misnomer, and is better understood as "tort deform".   Some powerful business groups and industries wish to strip Americans of their rights and their access to justice when injured due to medical errors.  Instead of robbing Americans of their fundamental rights and compensating them for the devastating damages they incur as a result of medical negligence, the focus should be on preventing the medical errors in the first place.  That's true reform.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.  

 

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Errors Cause More Deaths In DC Than Car Accidents

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The DC Department of Health recently released a report, making clear that medical errors are killing more DC residents than all types of car and truck accidents combined.  Per the February, 2010 report, "The leading causes of preventable death in the District of Columbia...were tobacco use (estimated 860 deaths; 16.6 percent of total DC resident deaths), poor diet and physical inactivity (estimated 780 deaths; 15.1 percent), microbial (infectious) agents—excluding HIV—(estimated 240 deaths; 4.6 percent), alcohol consumption (estimated 150 deaths; 2.9 percent), firearms (estimated 140; 2.7 percent), and medical errors (estimated 140 deaths; 2.7 percent). 

According to the comprehensive study and report, motor vehicle accidents account for .6% of the overall deaths in DC--that's 4.5 times less than the deaths caused by preventable medical errors.

The complete report can be viewed by clicking here.

There is a lot of discussion in politics about "tort reform".  The term--"tort reform"--is actually a misnomer, and is better understood as "tort deform".   Some powerful business groups and industries wish to strip Americans of their rights and their access to justice when injured due to medical errors.  Instead of robbing Americans of their fundamental rights and compensating them for the devastating damages they incur as a result of medical negligence, the focus should be on preventing the medical errors in the first place.  That's true reform.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.  

Posted In Patient Safety , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Washington State Supreme Court Rejects Patient Pre-Filing Requirement

 

By Catherine Bertram

The Washington State Supreme Court struck down a law requiring 90 days' notice to doctors before filing suit against them. 

The court decided that the law violated the doctrine of "separation of powers", the idea that the three branches of the government--the courts, the governor, and the legislature--have defined roles and should not interfere with each other.  Because the law imposed more restrictions than a Washington court rule, the court held that the law impermissibly interfered with the judicial branch's rules. 

Continue Reading Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Hospitals Fail to Discipline, Report Problem Doctors

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reported that across the country, "hospitals either aren't disciplining doctors who have had problems, or are finding ways to avoid federal reporting rules." The Post-Dispatch discusses the case of Dr. Surendra Chaganti of St. Anthony's Medical Center in Missouri. Despite his involvement in a patient's death, he was able to keep a clean record.

This report is not surprising, although it is troubling.  For many years, studies have shown that a small percentage of doctors are repeat offenders, committing medical errors and engaging in self-destructive behavior that puts patients at risk.  The renowned Institute of Medicine has proven that approximately 98,000 Americans are killed every year as a result of medical errors.  If problem doctors are disciplined appropriately, lives will be saved and health will be preserved. 

I hope this additional study spurs hospitals to better screen, supervise, and train physicians.  We can't have nearly 100,000 Americans dying needlessly.

 

Do you have any questions about this post?  

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also acknowledges him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Maryland's Highest Court to Determine Constitutionality of Cap on Damages Awards

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner              

American Medical News reported that the Maryland Court of Appeals "is set to decide the constitutionality of a general liability cap in a case that likely will impact a separate limit on noneconomic awards in medical liability suits." On April 2, the court "heard oral arguments in a wrongful death case" in which a $4 million verdict had been reduced to "$1 million, based on a noneconomic damage cap in general personal injury cases," a case which plaintiffs "appealed, contending that the cap violated their equal protection rights."

I am a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC, and I am very involved in working to be sure Americans, particularly those that live in the Metro area, have fair access to justice.  Artificial caps have proven to do nothing to limit overall medical costs.  Caps simply feed the greed of special interest groups to the detriment of the people who suffer catastrophic injuries due to the carelessness of others.  Caps have been found unconstitutional in several states, and I hope the Maryland Court recognizes the clear unconstitutionality of these limits on justice.  Profit should never be put over people.

Do you have any questions about this post?  

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also acknowledges him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Continue Reading Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Georgia Supreme Court Strikes Down Damages Cap in Medical Malpractice Cases

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner

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The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reports that a "unanimous Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down limits on jury awards in medical malpractice cases," finding that the non-economic damages cap of $350,000 violates the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution.  According to the report, the Court found that the cap "'clearly nullifies the jury's findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury's basic function,' Chief Justice Carol Hunstein wrote for the court."

The AP reports that the ruling "will likely herald a flurry of new litigation, as the court said the ruling applied retroactively to all other pending medical-malpractice cases, including those that are now in the appeals process." In the case before the court, Betsy Nestlehutt "was awarded $1.15 million in non-economic damages -- including $900,000 in pain and suffering -- by a Fulton County jury after she was permanently disfigured after a botched facelift."

This ruling is a victory for justice.  People who are permanently and horrifically injured due to the carelessness of others deserve fair and just compensation, not an arbitrary amount limited by lawmakers who know nothing of teh facts of individual cases.  We are a government of the people and for the people.  We the people, as juries, are in te best position to determine what constituted justice based upon the unique facts and circumstances of a case.

Regrettably, many special interest groups seek to dismantle the civil justice system in an effort to maximize profits.  The greed of some should never shape the law.  Talk to your representatives in government, and tell them to put safety and people over profits.  Never allow them to strip you of your fundamental, constitutional right to access to justice.

CONTACT ME  

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also acknowledges him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.   

Posted In Public Health , Tort Reform
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House Passes Healthcare Reform Measure

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner

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Last night, the House passed the Senate-approved healthcare reform bill by a vote of 219-212. The AP notes that after passing the bill, the House proceeded to approve "key changes" to it, "part of a prearranged agreement to guarantee passage of the historic legislation. The changes passed by a 220-211 vote. That bill now goes to the Senate for final approval, where it only requires a simple majority to pass."

Most stories are describing the bill in largely favorable terms -- and the vote as a triumph of the political system as a whole. The vote, reports USA Today, "assured that about 32 million Americans will gain health insurance coverage, and millions more will win protections against losing theirs."  An AP story observes, "Rarely does the government, that big, clumsy, poorly regarded oaf, pull off anything short of war that touches all lives with one act, one stroke of a president's pen. Such a moment has come."

The passing of the measure marks the most sweeping healthcare legislation this country has seen in four decades, and is an apparent victory for President Obama.  Not a single republican, however, voted for the bill--a clear sign that they will make it an issue come the November elections.

CONTACT ME  

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. He has been acknowledged by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all of the more than 80,000 lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also acknowledges him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.   
    
 

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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What Crisis? 2010 Maryland Med Mal Carrier Reduces Premiums 31%

By Catherine D. Bertram

The following was authored by past President of the Maryland Association for Justice, Wayne Willoughby.  It sets forth the plain facts behind the alleged 2004 "medical malpractice insurance crisis" in Maryland and the hard evidence which proves it was all a hoax.  Here it is:

by Wayne M. Willoughby, Past President, Maryland Association for Justice

"In 2004, hysteria struck Annapolis. Hordes of physicians in white coats descended upon the State House demanding so-called “tort reform” as the fix to their rising malpractice premiums. The Maryland Association for Justice (then known as the Maryland Trial Lawyers Association) stood virtually alone in opposing the fear-driven throng.

MAJ retained a highly respected insurance analyst, Jay Angoff, to examine the recent malpractice premium hikes. Mr. Angoff was the third-longest serving insurance commissioner for the State of Missouri and previously had served the State of Maryland as the State’s insurance expert in other matters. His conclusion: the malpractice premium increases that caused the panic were totally unjustified; the doctors were being gouged by their insurance carrier.

So, MAJ advised the members of the General Assembly that they were being hoodwinked. What was needed was aggressive insurance regulation to prevent carriers from gouging doctors, not new laws depriving injured patients of full and fair justice in our courts.

Nevertheless, swept up in the frenzy, the General Assembly enacted House Bill 2 containing a premium subsidy for physicians and some measures that severely punished injured patients. One such measure lowered the damage cap on wrongful death and survival claims to the point that the life of a malpractice victim in Maryland is now worth at law only 50% of the life of a victim of other forms of negligence.

Time proved MAJ was correct, the malpractice “crisis” of 2004 had been a cruel hoax on the public and the General Assembly. Within seven months after passage of HB 2 – years before HB 2’s tort “reforms” could affect claims payouts and premiums – Maryland largest malpractice carrier, Medical Mutual, announced it would not increase premiums for 2006.

For 2007 the carrier lowered its base premiums by 8% and announced a $68.6 Million dividend for its insured physicians. With a new consumer friendly Governor in office, and his new insurance commissioner at the helm, Medical Mutual’s move was greeted by the Maryland Insurance Administration with a cease and desist order.

As a result, the taxpayers of Maryland were able to recoup from Medical Mutual the approximately $84.Million that had been paid to the company for rate stabilization under HB 2. Medical Mutual’s finances were so superb that it still issued a $13.8 Million dividend to physicians and lowered its premiums 8% for 2008 despite paying $84 Million back to the State.

Then, in 2009 Medical Mutual lowered its premiums by 31% (an 11% base premium reduction and a 20% dividend for renewing physicians). Again, in 2010, Medical Mutualannounced another 31% premium reduction (11% plus 20%).

Consequently, the events after the 2004 Special Session demonstrate the truth of what MAJ has said all along: The “crisis” of 2004 was no crisis at all. It was little more than a raid on the public treasury and the legal rights of injured patients accomplished though the use of fear to manipulate public opinion and the legislature.

Although the taxpayers of Maryland have been made whole because of the decisive actions of Governor O’Malley’s insurance commissioner, and doctors have access to “available and affordable” insurance (per the official Maryland Insurance Administration’s report), there is one group that has not been made whole from the damaging effects of the contrived crisis of 2004: injured patients.

Now pending before committees of the General Assembly is a cross-filed bill to rectify this situation. House Bill 622/ Senate Bill 769 will return the damage cap on medical malpractice claims to their pre-hoax levels. If this bill is enacted, injured Marylanders once again would be treated the same under the law irrespective of whether their injury resulted from negligent medical practice, negligent driving, or a defective product.

All people who believe in civil justice should contact the members of the House Judiciary Committee and the Senate Judicial Proceedings Committee and demand that they vote in favor of HB 622/SB769."

 

 

 

Continue Reading Posted In Public Health , Tort Reform
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Got Sunshine? A National Campaign for Open Government

By Catherine Bertram                                                 

Sunshine Week is a national campaign to raise public awareness for a more open government

It started in March of 2005, when the American Society of Newspaper Editors used a Knight grant to bring together more than 50 journalism groups to launch the first Sunshine Week.   Sunshine laws help keep our government accountable and transparent by mandating access to meetings and information. During Sunshine Week journalists and others shine a light on the spirit and intent of sunshine laws. Each state has laws to keep public meetings and documents exactly that — public. The Freedom of Information Act is one example.

Here in D.C.,  advocates for patient safety are pushing for access to information that would promote patient safety and allow consumers to choose between hospitals based on available data such as the infection rate of each hospital or the complication rates for certain procedures.  The hospitals have this data readily available.  This information should be available to D.C. patients and their families.   More than half of the states have mandatory reporting requirements for hospital infections.  No such requirement exists in the District of Columbia.    We need support the D.C. Council and Mayor Fenty when they push for this legislation.  Then we can determine whether the D.C. Department of Health is doing all they can to make sure all the D.C. Hospitals work to reduce the number of hospital acquired infections.   Let's get it out in the sunshine!

 About the author:

Catherine Bertram is board certified in civil trials and was recently nominated as a 2010 Super Lawyer for Washington, D.C.  Ms. Bertram has 20 years of trial experience and is unique in that she was formerly the Director of Risk Management for Georgetown University Hospital so she brings a wealth of knowledge to her practice including how hospitals should be run and what doctors and nurses can do to protect patients.   She is a partner with the firm and devotes her practice to the representation of patients and families of loved ones who have been injured or lost due to medical errors.  Ms. Bertram lectures regularly to lawyers and health care providers, nationally and locally,  regarding patient safety, medical negligence and other related issues. She has also recently published a chapter in a medical textbook.   She can be reached by email at cbertram@reganfirm.com or by phone 202-822-1875 in her office in Washington, D.C.

 

 

Posted In Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Hospitals Need To Better Monitor Staff Errors

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

In the Wall Street Journal, Laura Landro writes that the April edition of the Joint Commission Journal on Quality and Patient Safety includes an analysis of a fatal medical error that occurred when a nurse accidentally penicillin for an epidural. In doing so, according to the report, the nurse circumvented several safety procedures.  The review further determined that flaws in the hospital's system of delivering care contributed to the error.  Landro notes, however, that some hospitals are now trying to improve safety by establishing procedures for handling staff members who make errors.

It is disturbing to learn time and again how staff members ignore safety procedures.  Such conduct injures and often kills patients.  What's more disturbing, though, is learning that some staff members are permitted to be repeat offenders--people who habitually bypass safety procedures. 

Landro's report that some hospitals are trying to better monitor their staff members is refreshing news.  I hope other hospitals follow their lead.  Good leadership from hospital administrations will lead to better health-care.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in medical malpractice matters, product liability claims, and serious automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.  

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Just Like We Learned in Kindergarten: Tell the Truth and Accept Responsibility

By Catherine Bertram                                                                 

There was an interesting article in the New York Times recently that seems to suggest that doctors and hospitals would be more forthcoming about errors in the delivery of health care that injure patients if only they were fully protected from the consequence of their errors.  That is not the right answer and we all know it.   The answer is just what our parents and teachers taught us in kindergarten.    Tell the truth and accept the consequences.  No profession in our country is held to any lesser standard, nor should they be. 

As a former risk manager at a major teaching hospital,  I can tell you first hand that admitting errors and working toward resolution with patients and their families is not only the ethical thing to do, but it is the only way to honor the doctors and nurses as well.  Doctors and nurses come to work every day to help people but they are human and they make mistakes.    They feel horrible when an error occurs and they deserve support and resolution.   Disclosure is hard to do but in my experience, in the end,  it is the only way to help both the family and health care provider heal. Truth and transparency followed by support is critical.

The article cites several examples of hospitals who have made a commitment to tell the truth and accept responsibility and the outcomes have been overwhelmingly positive.   Of course.    The key question is when an error occurs is the health care team supported by the entity or not?  When proper support is provided the patient and the health care worker are both honored but that requires full disclosure AND acceptance of responsibility for the consequences. Saying you are sorry is great, but only if the institution takes the next step and everyone has closure.   Otherwise, who pays for the consequences of the error?  If there is a cover up, or disclosure without acceptance of responsibility for the harm, the patient is still injured and often is facing a lifetime of care costs and no ability to work.   There is no resolution in that scenario for anyone.  The health care worker has to live with that burden in silence.    We all pay when there is no acceptance of responsibility.  We pay with higher health insurance premiums and higher taxes for those patients who have medicare/medicaid or who lose their coverage. 

The focus must be on prevent errors and supporting both the health care workers and patients when errors occur. Not on saving the insurance companies money by hiding a legitimate claim.    It is only through truth and demanding transparency that the system will ever become safer.  We have the airline industry as a perfect example.   The system of cover up and denial in health care has not worked and never will.   We need only look at Texas as a recent example.  The legislature put a strict damages cap in place effectively ending a patient's right to a civil remedy for malpractice in that state.  The number of annual complaints against doctors almost tripled.  Texas health care is not safer, doctors making errors are not being supported and the patients are still being injured. 

Honesty and accountability work.

Continue Reading Posted In Medical Malpractice , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Tort Reform Is Really Tort Deform

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

Shriram Harid blogged at the Huffington Post, "President Obama is widely expected to toss Republicans a bone at Thursday's health care summit, by publicly embracing what's known as 'tort reform.'" But as she pointed out, tort reform advocates ignore "how punitive damages [are] essentially the only way that patients have of holding medical professionals and organizations accountable when they kill, maim or injure people through their negligence, ignorance or even malice." Harid remarks, "According to the American Association for Justice . . . legislators ought to be focused primarily on reducing the frequency of malpractice, rather than malpractice litigation, since a mere 2 to 3 percent of all instances of malpractice lead to claims."  And she quotes the President of the Association, Anthony Tarricone, who stated, "The idea of bargaining away the life of injured patients is a very, very bad idea... Opponents of health care have seized on tort reform as a panacea. ... They're bankrupt of any real reforms. The only real solution is eliminating malpractice itself."

Nearly 100,000 people die every year in America due to preventable medical errors--that's like two 747 airplanes fully loaded crashing to the ground every single day.  The last thing the government should ever seek to do is limit these innocent victims' ability to seek justice.  What the medical and business industries should be focusing on is improving medical care to avoid the medical errors that are seriously injuring and killing Americans.

I represent people who have been devastatingly injured due to preventable medical errors, as well as families of those who have been killed due to medical negligence.  If you have any questions about our civil justice system and its impact on overall healthcare costs, please feel free to give me a call.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including product liability, medical malpractice, and automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.  

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Medical Malpractice and the Healthcare Debate

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

As you know, President Obama has called a summit to address the issue of healthcare reform.  The insurance industry, Big Business, the pharmaceutical industry, the American Medical Association (the doctor lobbying group), and other corporate industries have been shouting for limits on patients' rights.  The inescapable truth, however, is that capping damages and otherwise limiting the ability victims of medical errors have to obtain justice will have no appreciable impact on overall health costs.  Medical Malpractice litigation accounts for merely 1/2% to 1% of overall healthcare costs according to the Congressional Budget Office.

During the summit, Senator Dick Durbin (IL) delivered an impassioned defense of the civil justice system.

The president of the American Association for Justice recently appeared on CNN’s Anderson Cooper 360 to discuss this issue.

Nearly 100,000 people die every year in America due to preventable medical errors--that's like two 747 airplanes fully loaded crashing to the ground every single day.  The last thing the government anyone should ever seek to do is limit these innocent victims' ability to seek justice.  What the medical and business industries should be focusing on is improving medical care to avoid the medical errors that are seriously injuring and killing Americans.

I represent people who have been devastatingly injured due to preventable medical errors, as well as families of those who have been killed due to medical negligence.  If you have any questions about our civil justice system and its impact on overall healthcare costs, please feel free to give me a call.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including product liability, medical malpractice, and automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been repeatedly named a "Super Lawyer" by Law and Politics magazine--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding product liability litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.  

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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States Without Damage Caps Have More Doctors

 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

In a blog at the California Progress Report (1/6), J.G. Preston wrote, "One of the arguments the 'tort reform' crowd uses to justify putting a cap on the amount of money a jury can award to a victim of medical negligence is their assertion that increases in the cost of malpractice insurance are driving doctors out of the business." But "there are more doctors per capita in states that don't limit the amount that can be awarded to victims of negligence than there are in states that have implemented caps. The American Association for Justice broke down the numbers and found there are 21% more doctors per capita in states that don't restrict compensation that there are in states with caps." 

And there are more doctors than ever in America.   Take a look at the most recent data published by the American Medical Association, which confirms this fact.  The publication considers data through 2008.  There were 309 doctors for every 100,000 people that year.   Compared to the 1960s, that's twice as many.  So, not only are there more doctors per capita in states without damages caps, there are also more doctors everywhere in this nation.

The lesson:  Don't let the corporate greed of certain special interest groups convince you that you need to abandon your constitutional rights to pad their pockets.  Victims of the carelessness of others need their rights. 

Be safe, and don't be fooled by well-worn rhetoric.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is a Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C. and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice, product liability, and automobile accident claims.  Mr. Zambri has also been named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  

Mr. Zambri was sought after to publish a chapter regarding civil litigation in Aspatore Books - a company that is touted as "the largest and most exclusive publisher of C-1 Level executives (CEO, CFO, CTO, CMO, Partner) from the world's most respected companies and law firms."  To read Mr. Zambri's publication, entitled "Constantly Preparing To Win", please click here.

If you have any questions about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.   

 

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Cerebral Palsy , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Stop Hurting Patients and There Will Be No Lawsuits

Posted by Catherine Bertram, Partner                                     

In a recent opinion piece in Salon, Dr. Rahul Parikh summarized the tort "reformers" arguments which have been in the news lately. These argument about the so called lawsuit crisis are being put forth by insurance companies and the American Medical Association.  Dr. Parikh carefully refutes each one by using the real facts.   He then challenges physicians to focus on the real priority, patient safety. Instead of attacking lawyers who advocate for patients harmed by preventable errors, the resources should be focused on preventing the patient injuries in the first place.   Here is the bottom line directly from his piece:

"Tort reformers neglect the fact that malpractice reform won't save one extra life. To make that difference, insurers, doctors and their lobbyists like the AMA need to find ways to improve patient safety. So for those who push tort reform as a panacea for a sick health care system, working to prevent injuries is a much more noble pursuit than writing up baseless arguments for the back pages of a newspaper."

Instead of focusing on limiting the rights of citizens who have valid claims for harm as a result of preventable errors in health care, we need to focus on how to stop the patients from being injured in the first place.  This involves daily focus by doctors, nurses and most of all the support and resources from hospital leadership.  

I would love nothing more than to come to my office and have no calls from patients or their families after devastating medical errors.   However, that is not the case.  We are seeing more errors and more obvious preventable errors because the system is broken and there is often not accountability.

"I long to accomplish a great and noble task, but it is my chief duty to accomplish small tasks as if they were great and noble."  Helen Keller

Continue Reading Posted In Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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State Tort "Reforms" Don't Lower Insurance Premiums

 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The American Association for Justice has published an article that establishes what we have known now for some time--that state tort "reforms" have provided a boon to insurance companies, while physician and patient premiums continue to skyrocket.  The winner:  insurnace companies, whose profits have hit record levels.  The losers:  doctors and, especially, patients, whose fundamental rights have been taken from them.

"An analysis of data from the National Association of Insurance Commissioners (NAIC) and company annual statements shows malpractice insurer profits are 24 percent higher in states with caps.  In these cap states, insurers took in 3.5 times more in premiums than they paid out in 2008.  In contrast, insurers in states without caps took in just over twice what they paid in claims."

98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors, yet the insurnace industry and the chamber of commerce want o place nonsensical limits on patients' rights simply to pad insurance companies' profits.  This profits-over-people model is anti-American and unethical.

The report establishes that the "medical malpractice insurance industry has seen a 47 percent increase in profitability in the last 10 years. Overblown 'reported' losses were used by the insurance industry to justify new measures restricting the rights of those injured by medical negligence."

Americans need to fight back against the myths spread by special interest group.  Over 30 states have been fooled into thinking caps on daages will help pemiums.  They haven't. In the meantime, though, "the average profit of the 10 largest medical malpractice insurers was higher than 99 percent of Fortune 500 companies and 35 times higher than the Fortune 500 average."

To view a copy of Insurance Company Handout: How the Industry Used Tort Reform to Increase Profits While Americans' Premiums Soared, visit http://www.justice.org/clips/Insurance_Company_Handout.pdf.

As I mentioned, It is widely accepted that approximately 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors.  That's like two 747 airplanes full of passengers crashing to the ground every day for a year.  Yet, some legislators want to strip innocent victims of their constitutional rights, including limiting their recoveries, instead of focusing on preventing future errors. 

Our leaders should be fighting for safer drugs, safer hospitals, better medical practices, and a safer American health system.  We must put people over profits.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" whose practice is dedicated to handling catastrophic personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

 

 

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Cerebral Palsy , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Malpractice Accounts for Far less than 1% of Overall Healthcare Costs

 

 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

According to a study from Public Citizen,  medical malpractice payments to patients who have been injured due to medical errors declined for the third year in a row.  The study further shows that the payouts total between merely 0.18% and 0.6% of the overall medical costs in this country. 

Is this decline the result of better medical care?  Unfortunately, no, according to the study.   Instead, fewer injured patients are being compensated.  Approximately 98,000 people are killed every year in this country due to medical mistakes, but payouts only go to about 11,000 of them.  If there is a medical malpractice crisis in this country, the core of the crisis is sloppy medicine, not frivolous lawsuits, notes the study:

More than 80 percent of the money paid out for medical malpractice in 2008 was for cases involving "significant permanent injuries"; "major permanent injuries"; injuries resulting in quadriplegia, brain damage or the need for permanent care; or death, according to NPDB [National Practitioner Data Bank] reporting.

Despite the hysteria surrounding debates over medical malpractice litigation, experts have repeatedly concluded that several times as many patients suffer avoidable injuries as those who sue. The best known such finding was included in the Institute of Medicine’s (IOM) seminal 1999 study, "To Err Is Human," which concluded that between 44,000 and 98,000 Americans die every year because of avoidable medical errors. Fewer than 15,000 people (including those with non-fatal outcomes) received compensation for medical malpractice that year, and in 2008, the number receiving compensation fell to just over 11,000.

Patient safety needs to become a priority in this country.  Unless it does, thousands upon thousands of Americans will be needlessly killed or seriously injured each year. 

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" whose practice is dedicated to handling catastrophic personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (2009-2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America. 

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Errors Should Be Reported to Improve Safety

 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     


The AP (12/11, Tanner) reports that "in 2005, Illinois legislators...passed a measure requiring hospitals to report the deadliest kind" of medical errors, but "the law has yet to be implemented -- and it likely won't be for at least another year." Illinois "budget woes and foot-dragging by special interests are among reasons cited for the long delay." However, "there are finally glimmers of progress. That includes the recent launch of a related state website that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels, and the imminent start of a search for a vendor to help put the law in place."

Ten years ago, a landmark report proved that medical mistakes kill up to 98,000 Americans yearly. Only a handful of states have decided to do something about it, Minnesota being the first in 2003.  In 2005, Illinois modeled a law after Minnesota's.  Four years later, the law has still not been implemented.  Why?  Foot-dragging by special interest groups.  Finally, though, some progress is being made, including " the recent launch of a related state Web site that tracks hospital infection rates and staff levels, and the imminent start of a search for a vendor to help put the law in place."

According to the AP report, "The law will require hospitals to publicly report so-called "never" mistakes. These are mostly preventable errors with potentially life-threatening consequences -- like the wrong-knee surgery Krzysztof Kordes says Chicago-area doctors performed on him last year or the forgotten sponge left inside a Plainfield woman during breast tumor surgery."

A few things the law requires:

  • hospitals required to report major medical errors within 30 days to the state's public health department
  • list of hospitals and mistakes will be posted online
  • hospitals required to determine cause of errors and to develop corrective plan

These kinds of laws should be in every state in our country.  Medical providers should not bow to special interest groups.  Sharing more, not less, following an adverse event is the only way to truly minimize future medical errors. 

Encourage your legislators to work hard to implement strong laws that clearly work to open communication and spur better, safer health practices.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" whose practice is dedicated to handling catastrophic personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (2009-2010)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America. 

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Cerebral Palsy , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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American Associate for Justice Publishes Primer on Medical Negligence Debate: A Must Read

 

 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The American Association for Justice has published a primer on the medical malpractice debate.  It comprehensively shows how special interest groups have perpetuated myths in an effort to strip Americans of their rights in order to pad their profits.  Here are some of the findings:

  • Myth #1: There are too many “frivolous” malpractice lawsuits
  • Myth #2: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs.
  • Myth #3: Doctors are fleeing.
  • Myth #4: Malpractice claims drive up doctors’ premiums.
  • Myth #5: Tort reform will lower insurance rates.

It is widely accepted that approximately 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors.  That's like two 747 airplanes full of passengers crashing to the ground every day for a year.  Yet, some legislators want to strip innocent victims of their constitutional rights, including limiting their recoveries, instead of focusing on preventing future errors. 

Our leaders should be fighting for safer drugs, safer hospitals, better medical practices, and a safer American health system.  We must put people over profits.

To read the publication, please click here.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" whose practice is dedicated to handling catastrophic personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Tort Reform: Per CBO Will Not Significantly Decrease Costs of Healthcare

 

Post by Catherine D. Bertram, Partner                                       

 

Part of the debate about health care reform includes the major insurance companies' efforts to put artificial caps on the damages awarded to the most severely injured citizens who have valid claims for medical negligence.   

However, the nonpartisan Congressional Budget Office estimated last year that savings achieved by limiting medical liability would amount to less than 0.5 percent of health care spending. In addition, the office studied states with their own controls on medical lawsuits. It found no proof that those limits have reduced ''defensive medicine'' -- expensive and unnecessary tests and procedures ordered by a doctor only to reduce the risk of a lawsuit.

For information about your legal rights, please email Catherine Bertram at cbertram@reganfirm.com or call Ms. Bertram directly at 202-833-1875.

 

Posted In Public Health , Tort Reform
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New Paper Debunks Medical Malpractice Myths


 Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, founding partner     

The American Association for Justice has published a paper that concisely and clearly debunked the myths about medical malpractice which has been spread by business interest groups aimed at putting profits over people.  In the first of a series of papers, Public Citizen debunks the following "five myths: 

  • Myth #1: There are too many “frivolous” malpractice lawsuits.

Fact: There’s an epidemic of medical negligence, not lawsuits.  Only one in eight people injured by medical negligence ever file suit.  Civil filings have declined eight percent over the last decade, and are less than one percent of the whole civil docket.  A 2006 Harvard study found that 97 percent of claims were meritorious, stating, “portraits of a malpractice system that is stricken with frivolous litigation are overblown.”

  • Myth #2: Malpractice claims drive up health care costs.

Fact: According to the National Association of Insurance Commissioners, the total spent defending claims and compensating victims of medical negligence was just 0.3% of health care costs, and the Congressional Budget Office and Government Accountability Office have made similar findings.

  • Myth #3: Doctors are fleeing.

Fact: Then where are they going?  According to the American Medical Association’s own data, the number of practicing physicians in the United States has been growing steadily for decades. Not only are there more doctors, but the number of doctors is increasing faster than population growth.  Despite the cries of physicians fleeing multiple states, the number of physicians increased in every state, and only four states saw growth slower than population growth; these four states all have medical malpractice caps.

  • Myth #4: Malpractice claims drive up doctors’ premiums.

Fact: Empirical research has found that there is little correlation between malpractice payouts and malpractice premiums paid by doctors. A study of the leading medical malpractice insurance companies’ financial statements by former Missouri Insurance Commissioner Jay Angoff found that these insurers artificially raised doctors’ premiums and misled the public about the nature of medical negligence claims.  A previous AAJ report on malpractice insurers found they had earnings higher than 99% of Fortune 500 companies.

  • Myth #5: Tort reform will lower insurance rates.

Fact:  Tort reforms are passed under the guise that they will lower physicians’ liability premiums. This does not happen. While insurers do pay out less money when damages awards are capped, they do not pass the savings along to doctors by lowering premiums. Even the most ardent tort reformers have been caught stating that tort reform will have no effect on insurance rates."

It is widely accepted that approximately 98,000 Americans die every year as a result of medical errors.  That's like two 747 airplanes full of passengers crashing to the ground every day for a year.  Yet, some legislators want to strip innocent victims of their constitutional rights, including limitibg their recoveries, instead of focusing on preventing future errors. 

Don't let your legislative representatives takes your rights away just so some special interest groups can pad their profits.  Fight for safer hospitals, better medical practices, and a safer American health system.  We must put people over profits.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications and medical errors.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

Mr. Zambri is regularly asked to present seminars to lawyers and doctors, as well as both medical and law students concerning medication errors, medical malpractice litigation, and safety improvements.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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98,000 Deaths A Year From Medical Errors: Enough is Enough

By Catherine D. Bertram, Esquire

98,000 Reasons is a website set up to get the word out on how medical errors harm real patients every day and what we can do about it.   According to decade old data published by the National Institute of Medicine, there are  documented preventable medical errors which lead to 98,0000 deaths in U.S. hospitals each year.   That figure does not include patients who are seriously harmed.  Now think about the fact that this number has remained static over 10 years.    Tragically, it is the 6th leading cause of death in our country.  To put that into perspective, 98,000 annual deaths is equivalent to 2 jumbo jets crashing every day all year.  Why doesn't Congress demand answers?  Why are hospitals not held accountable?  How can we allow this to continue?  Those are the questions that we need answers to.   We use our tax dollars to have hearings about baseball and steroid use.

As a former Director of Risk Management at a major teaching hospital in DC, I am saddened that more has not been accomplished on a national level to reduce this number and make hospitals safer for all patients and for our health care providers.  Our goal must be zero.

Please take a minute and click here and follow the link to let Congress know how important an issue this is to your family and our country.

 About the author:

Catherine Bertram is board certified in civil trials.  Ms. Bertram has 20 years of trial experience and is unique in that she was formerly the Director of Risk Management for Georgetown University Hospital so she brings a wealth of knowledge to her practice including how hospitals should be run and what doctors and nurses can do to protect patients.   She is a partner with the firm and devotes her practice to the representation of patients and families of loved ones who have been injured or lost due to medical errors.  Ms. Bertram lectures regularly to lawyers and health care providers, nationally and locally,  regarding patient safety, medical negligence and other related issues. She can be reached by email at cbertram@reganfirm.com or by phone 202-822-1875. 

 

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Tort Reform
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Drugmaker Hid Dangers of Drug from Public to Pad Profits

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

According to a Bloomberg report, a former GlaxoSmithKline executive testified under oath that the drug company knew as early as 2001 that its anti-depressant drug--Paxil--could cause birth defects in the fetuses of pregnant women.  It has been alleged that this information was withheld from the public so the company could maximize profits at teh expense of public health.  The reports notes that in a videotaped deposition, former Glaxo drug-safety executive Jane Nieman stated that the company was “almost certain” by 2001 that Paxil was to blame for a certain heart defect that caused women to abort their fetuses. 

The drug generated about $942 million in sales last year alone.   We have no problem with companies making money--that's America.  What's un-American is putting profits over people.  No company should ever risk public health in a greedy effort to pad profits.  Many lawsuits against the drug manufacturer are pending, and we expect that the truth will be revealed and that the victims' suits will help protect all Americans from corporate greed. 

 About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions stemming from defective or dangerous medications.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

 


 

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Malpractice Victims' Right to Sue in Court Only Nominally Impacts Overall Healthcare Costs

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

According to the AP (9/18), the Obama Administration "announced $25 million in grants for states and health care systems to experiment with alternatives to costly medical malpractice lawsuits." The report states that the grants will amount to "up to $3 million each for three years," and can be allocated for "a range of ideas, including programs in which doctors and hospitals quickly acknowledge a mistake, offer an apology and restitution, and pledge to take corrective action."        

NPR (9/17, James), on its  "Two-Way" blog, reports that although "a lot of people believe . . . [that] medical malpractice is a major contributor to healthcare inflation. . . the available evidence is with the president"--that it has little impact on healthcare costs.  NPR noted what others, including the Congressional Budget Office (under the direction of former President George W. Bush), have determined, which is that "perhaps one percent or less of healthcare's high costs has been attributed in many studies to malpractice lawsuits."

I think it is good that the American people are starting to learn the truth about medical malpractice litigation and victims' rights to obtain justice.  For far too long, special interest groups, like the insurance and medical industries, have spread myths about "frivolous" lawsuits and the impact malpractice claims have on overall healthcare costs.  These special interest groups have relied on rhetoric and anecdotes in an effort to fool the American people into giving up their rights--specifically their right to obtain justice through a civil justice systemaccess to justice.  There is no place for scare-tactics and myth-dissemination in American politics.  Hopefully, the present discourse about medical malpractice litigation will reveal the truth so that Americans can see that certain industries are willing to put profits over people at almost any cost. 

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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American Association of Justice Rightly Defends Access to Justice

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire


In a segment on CNN's "Anderson Cooper 360" (9/15), the immediate past-president of the American Association of Justice, Les Weisbrod, and another past-president, Todd Smith, addressed the notion of placing artificial caps on medical malpractice claims.  Weisbrod declared such a cap to be unconstitutional and made the well-known point that there is no evidence to show that such a cap would lower health-care spending.  Smith countered the notion that frivolous cases are brought by trial attorneys by stating the obvious--that lawyers have no logical reason whatsoever to take a case with no chance of winning.

Medical malpractice cases are extraordinarily expenses to litigate.  As a medical malpractice lawyer, I routinely advance hundreds of thousands of dollars on my clients' behalf, knowing that if the case fails, I lose all of that money since I never allow my clients to pay me back my advanced expenses in the absence of a favorable resolution.  To bring a frivolous suit would not only lead to financial ruin, but it exposes a lawyer to serious sanctions that can be imposed by the presiding judge and the Office of Bar Counsel that oversees attorney conduct.  Simply put, the idea that doctors face a barrage of frivolous suits is a myth.

Those with special interests need to recognize that too many Americans are killed or severely and permanently injured as a result of medical errors every year.  We need to focus on reducing medical mistakes.  The rights of victims of wrongdoing, often the most vulnerable in our nation, should never be stripped or capped.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri is Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, DC and has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.


 

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Georgia's Medical Malpractice Cap Law is Unconstitutional

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

The highest court in the state of Georgia will determine whether a 2005 law that capped medical malpractice awards violates the state's constitution.

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution (9/16, Rankin) reports that a 75-year-old Marietta, Georgia, woman was "permanently disfigured" after complications from facial surgery.  The report also notes that the woman's "case is now before the Georgia Supreme Court, which on Tuesday considered for the first time the constitutionality of the centerpiece of the state's sweeping 2005 tort reform law - caps on jury awards in medical malpractice cases." The article indicates that the surgeon's attorneys argued that the "Legislature properly imposed the caps to keep doctors from leaving the state in droves because their malpractice insurance premiums were too high," while the attorney for the plaintiff argued that "the law punishes those who suffer the greatest malpractice injuries to the benefit of those who caused the most harm."

The AP (9/15, Walker) reports that Georgia state law caps damages in medical malpractice lawsuits at $350,000, and that the case centers on a Georgia tort "reform" law that arbitrarily caps the amount a jury can award for malpractice victims' pain and suffering.  According to this report, the plaintiff's attorneys "said the law overturns a jury's centuries-old right to determine how much to compensate a victim."

The Atlanta Business Chronicle (9/16, Williams) adds that the woman's lawyer told the court that "The liability cap was a key provision in a tort reform bill Republicans made their top priority after taking full control of the legislature in the 2004 elections for the first time since the 19th century. Lawmakers in Georgia and other states have embraced restrictions on jury awards as a way to curb rising medical malpractice insurance premiums that have long been a chief source of complaint among doctors. Despite the cap, a Fulton County jury awarded $1,265,000 to Betty Nestlehutt, 71, in 2007 after she was left with permanent scars and discoloration from a facelift that went wrong."

The truth of the matter is that there is a medical malpractice crisis in this country.  The myths are that there are too many cases and that lawsuits are the cause of high insurance premiums doctors must pay.  Nearly 100,000 people die every year as a result of medical errors, and 90% of the victims of medical errors never bring a suit.  We need better medical care.  Also, the number of suits throughout  the country have gone done, as have payouts by insurers, yet the insures have been raising premiums.  We need better insurance regulation.

The District of Columbia government has enacted insurance reform recently, and its impact has been already felt.  We hope other states follow the District's lead.

Those that are catastrophically injured due to medical wrongdoing need help.  They should not be victims twice--once by egregious medical care and again by artificial caps that prohibit victims from obtaining justice.

 

About the author:

Mr. Zambri has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Caps on Malpractice Awards Not the Answer to Healthcare Crisis

 

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

President Obama's approach to medical malpractice laws is seen as "differing fundamentally" from idea of limiting awards, according to The Washington Post (9/11, Goldstein).  "When President Obama broached medical malpractice laws in his speech to a joint session of Congress on Wednesday night, it was one of the few times that Republican lawmakers stood to applaud. But the ideas the president embraced stopped considerably short of the federal limits on awards in malpractice lawsuits that the GOP and the nation's physicians have sought for years." The examples "the White House gave of state experiments are among a constellation of ideas that have been advocated by the Institute of Medicine, some members of Congress and a growing number of states to reduce the number of malpractice cases that reach the courts. These ideas differ fundamentally from the main way that Republicans want to revise the malpractice system: creating federal caps on the amount of money that juries and judges can award patients who win lawsuits." The Congressional Budget Office and the Government Accountability Office "have examined whether medical malpractice issues add to health-care spending and concluded in recent years that the link is tenuous."

We believe that the rights of Americans to equal justice, including the right to have access to the court system, should not be stifled by politicians who are tied to interests groups that put profits over people.  Those that have been injured due to the carelessness of others and no wrongdoing of their own need our help the most. 

About the author:

Mr. Zambri has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters, including medical malpractice actions.   He has also been named a "DC Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine (March/April 2009)--a national publication that honors the top lawyers in America.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899. 

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Doctors Fail to Report Abnormal Test Results At Alarming Rate

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

Doctors fail to report clinically significant findings to their patients in more than seven percent (7%) of the cases, according to the Associated Press, relying on a new study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine.  Physicians' use of electronic medical records tended to lower instances of failures to inform.  The frequency of errors is higher in practices that used a combination of electronic and paper records, as opposed to practices that relied on only paper or only electronic records, reports Nicholas Bakalar of the New York Times.    

We encourage doctors to utilize the electronic technology now available to better communicate with patients and other physicians regarding a patient's symptoms and conditions.  Reckless record-keeping leads to needless deaths and injuries.  There is a crisis in this country--too many Americans die each year as a result of hospital and doctor errors.  Nearly 100,000 people die every year as a result of hospital mistakes alone.  Safety needs to be a priority as we move forward.

About the author:

Mr. Zambri has been rated by Washingtonian magazine as a "Big Gun" and among the "top 1%" of all lawyers in the Washington metropolitan area.  The magazine also describes him as "one of Washington's best--most honest and effective lawyers" who specializes in personal injury matters.  He has successfully litigated multiple cases against Metro and other automobile owners.  He has also been named a "Super Lawyer" by Super Lawyer magazine.  Our firm has experience pursing cases for patients that involve tragic medical errors, including the failure to properly inform patients of abnormal test results.  If you need a patient advocate, we recommend that you read an article about medical malpractice claims authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

If you want more information about your legal rights, please email Mr. Zambri at szambri@reganfirm.com or call him at 202-822-1899.

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Cerebral Palsy , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Nursing Home Negligence , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Federal Government Data Shows No Crisis in Medical Malpractice Claims In New York

By Catherine D. Bertram, Esquire and Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire

In recent years, the insurance companies in New York have claimed that there was a crisis in medical malpractice claims which was essentially putting doctors and hospitals out of business.  Were the claims of the insurance companies true?   The answer, according to the federal government claims data, is a resounding "no". 

According to a comprehensive report  based on the federal data,  written by Roberto LoBianco and Bill Mahoney of the N.Y. Public Interest Research Group and Arthur Levin of the Center for Medical Consumers.  When you review the actual data from paid medical malpractice claims it is clear that New York's malpractice system has been remarkable consistent and stable.  In fact, the New York medical malpractice settlement figures since 2006 show that the payouts in these cases have declined since 2006.  Despite claims that doctors were fleeing from New York, the data actually shows that the number of active physicians increased by 20% from 1995 to 2008, even though the state's population grew a mere 6%.

The National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB) was created by federal law and is managed by the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services.  All medical malpractice insurers are required to report their payments to this data base.   The NPDB public use data file is the only publicly-available comprehensive malpractice database in the country since it includes payments from all insurers across the country.   While the NPDB is prohibited from publically releasing the names of the individual doctors who have paid out on malpractice claims,  it does release aggregated information about those payments.  

Continue Reading Posted In Medical Malpractice , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Merck & Co., Schering-Plough Accused of Fraud

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire and Catherine Bertram, Esquire

Bloomberg News reports that "Merck & Co. and Schering-Plough Corp. were sued by a Pennsylvania fund for active and retired state employees over claims they misled consumers into paying too much for prescriptions of Zetia [ezetimibe] and Vytorin cholesterol pills."  The Pennsylvania Employees Benefit Trust Fund alleges in a complaint that "the companies have known for years -- and failed to make public -- that Zetia doesn't reduce fatty arterial plaques that can cause heart attacks and strokes."  The reports commenst that two studies last year showed that "the pills may work no better at unclogging arteries than does an older, cheaper medicine called simvastatin." Nevertheless, the companies allegedly withheld the the finding and "used false and deceptive marketing techniques claiming Vytorin was more efficacious than and just as safe as the much cheaper generic," according to the report.

Our firm has experience pursing cases for patients that involve tragic medication errorspharmacy mix ups and unsafe medications.  If you think you have been injured by a defective product, we encourage you to read a portion of a book regarding products liability authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

For information about your legal rights, please click here or contact us at Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.

Posted In Cancer Misdiagnosis , Medical Malpractice , Medications , Obstetrics , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Hearing Tomorrow On Medical Device Safety Act of 2009

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire and Catherine Bertram, Esquire

The Subcommittee on Health will hold a hearing tomorrow regarding The Medical Device Safety Act of 2009.   This is an important piece of legislation that should become law.  We encourage our readers to contact their representatives in Congress and urge them to vote in favor of the bill.

The Medical Device Safety Act of 2009 is important for two principal reasons.  First, it will allow every American patient to hold manufacturers of defective medical devices accountable for injuries and deaths caused by unsafe products.  It will also prevent the manufacturers of defective devices from receiving total immunity from any claims simply because the devices were previously approved by the Food and Drug Administration (FDA). 

On March 19, 2009, the editors of the New England Journal of Medicine endorsed the Medical Device Safety Act. They stated:

"Patients and physicians deserve to be fully informed about the benefits and risks of medical devices, and the companies making the devices should be held accountable if they fail to achieve this standard. We urge Congress to swiftly pass this legislation and to allow lawsuits by injured patients, which have been an important part of the regulatory framework and very effective in keeping medical devices safe, to proceed in the courts."

The New York Times has also endorsed the bill.

Medical devices can be extremely dangerous, and the FDA often does a poor job screening defective products from the public.  If your doctor wants to insert a medical device into your body, ask questions to be sure your physician has sufficiently investigated the device's safety and effectiveness.

If you think you have been injured by a defective device, we encourage you to read a portion of a book regarding products liability authored by senior partner Salvatore Zambri.

For information about your legal rights, please click here or contact us at Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Medications , Men's Health Issues , Patient Safety , Pediatrics , Product Liability , Public Health , Tort Reform , U.S. Food and Drug Administration Warnings , Women's Health Issues
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Doctors Continue to Swarm to DC, Md, and Va

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire and Catherine Bertram, Esquire

Doctors are increasingly practicing medicine in DC, Md, and Va.  This fact flatly rejects the myth that physicians are fleeing because of medical liability concerns.  The new figures from the American Medical Association (AMA) show the number of doctors has risen over the last five years and also outpaced the metropolitan area's population growth.

“The AMA’s own figures show that tort reform is clearly unnecessary, and may actually be detrimental to patient safety," states Salvatore J. Zambri, senior partner at Regan Zambri & Long and Past-President of the Trial Lawyers Association of Metropolitan Washington, D.C.  According to a comprehensive study by the American Association for Justice, nationwide, all states saw an increase in doctors; however, the number of physicians per capita (100,000 population) is 13 percent higher in states without caps. In the four states that doctor growth did not outpace population (Georgia, Alaska, Utah and Montana), caps have been passed.  Additionally, a study released in December 2008 from the American College of  Emergency Physicians showed that states with tort reform scored far worse in patient safety.

“Safety improves when patients can hold negligent hospitals or doctors accountable,” said Zambri.  “Tort reform will only help insurance companies that want to hoard more profits while leaving patients less safe.”

Posted In Medical Malpractice , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Stalled Suits Against Drug Companies Now Proceeding

Posted by Patrick Regan and Paul Cornoni

Bloomberg News (4/30 Fisk, Feeley) reports, "Just two months after the U.S. Supreme Court decided patients can sue drugmakers over injuries from medicines approved by the government, long-stalled lawsuits against GlaxoSmithKline Plc and Bristol-Myers Squibb Co. are again moving toward trials."

The Supreme Court's decision in Wyeth essentially states that federal regulatory approval (FDA) of a medicine or drug doesn't shield drugmakers from claims that patients were not adequately warned of potential side effects and other harms.  The Wyeth decision has already affected more than 250 lawsuits involving at least ten different drug companies. 

As the article explains: "Glaxo this month settled two cases on claims its antidepressant Paxil can make patients suicidal, after judges set trials citing the Wyeth decision. A Barr Pharmaceuticals hyperactivity-drug case is to be tried in August in federal court in Tallahassee, Florida. And a group of Bristol-Myers lawsuits over the blood-thinner Plavix may now proceed to trial in federal court in Trenton, New Jersey."

Posted In Product Liability , Tort Reform
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FDA Meets To Discuss Device Approval

Posted by: Salvatore J. Zambri, Esquire and Catherine Bertram, Esquire

The New York Times reported recently that the Food and Drug Administration (FDA) will conduct a rare meeting to discuss its device division, which is responsible for, among other things, evaluating, monitoring, and regulating medical devices.  According to the report, Dr. Donna-Bea Tillman, the agency's director of device evaluation, called an "all-hands" meeting.  This comes in response to a letter from nine scientists who have written President Obama, charging that some in the agency have acted illegally, exposing the public to harmful, even deadly, products.  

In the letter to President Obama, the scientists claimed that the device center inappropriately approved imaging studies designed to detect breast cancer and also allowed hospitals to wash and reuse device that were designed as single-use products, among other things.  Congress instituted an investigation into the charges. In January, the Government Accountability Office released a report that criticized the device center.

To read the entire Times article, please click here.

We hope that the FDA will seriously evaluate its deficiencies and make the changes that are necessary to protect the public from dangerous devices.

For information about defective devices and your legal rights, please click here or contact us at Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.

Posted In Men's Health Issues , Public Health , Tort Reform , Women's Health Issues
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Medical Device Safety Act

Today, medical device patients and attorneys from around the country will travel to Washington, DC for a Lobby Day to ask Congress to support HR 1346/S 540, the Medical Device Safety Act (MDSA). American Association for Justice member law firms and their clients will be joining in support of this important action.

www.stopcorporateimmunity.org/

 

 

Posted In Tort Reform
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Legal Times: Plaintiff's Bar Pushes Hill Agenda

March 31, 2009 marks the beginning date for Congressional hearings for legislation designed to protect consumers. Legal Times recent edition summarizes battles facing patient advocates, including the attorneys at Regan Zambri & Long, who fight for patients and their families who have been injured or lost their lives as a result of unsafe medical devices, medication and other consumer protection issues. Senior Regan Zambri & Long Partner, Patrick Regan was interviewed and quoted in this recent article.

We have reproduced the Legal Times article in its entirety below for our readers:

Plaintiffs Bar Pushes Hill Agenda
Legal Times, page 1
David Ingram
03-30-2009

Trial lawyers are preparing for a fight in Congress over proposals that would open new areas for civil litigation, testing whether they can translate their newfound political capital into legislative victories.


This week, they’ll begin a public relations push starring a kindergartner and a former Major League Baseball umpire who say they were injured by faulty medical devices—a defibrillator and a replacement hip, respectively. They’ll be joined by others from 14 states to lobby for allowing state-level lawsuits against device manufacturers.

The question of whether to roll back federal pre-emption has simmered since last year’s Supreme Court decision in Riegel v. Medtronic, in which the Court ruled that federal law barred state-level claims for defective devices.

The plaintiffs bar is in its best position on Capitol Hill in almost two decades, with allies—whose campaigns they helped pay for—in control of Congress and the White House. Led by their trade group, the American Association for Justice, they have a wish list that begins with expanded opportunities for state litigation and continues with a ban on mandatory arbitration for consumer contracts, changes to when settlements can be sealed, and a new way to exempt early litigation costs from taxes.

The proposals have been overshadowed by the economy and presidential nominations, but few expect that to last. The start of hearings as soon as March 31 signals that lawmakers are starting to shift their attention.

"This is going to be the most active Congress that we’ve seen in a long time," says Linda Lipsen, chief lobbyist and senior vice president for the American Association for Justice. The association’s political arm ranked 14th in giving to 2008 political campaigns with $3.5 million, according to the Center for Responsive Politics. Banks and other businesses made up most of the top of the list.

Lipsen says consumers would be the primary beneficiaries of the proposed legislation and possible changes in agency rule-making. "If you look at what occurred over the last eight years, it really was a return to the notion of caveat emptor—let the buyer beware," she says.

Victor Schwartz, general counsel of the American Tort Reform Association and a partner at Shook Hardy & Bacon, says consumers’ lawyers stand to benefit, too. "For years, all the trial lawyers did was play defense. They stopped bills," he says. "Now, they’re going to pass stuff."

COMING ATTRACTIONS
The House Judiciary Committee had a preview of the coming fight last week, when a subcommittee held a hearing on legislation that would allow active-duty members of the military to sue the federal government for medical malpractice. No such right exists now as a result of the Supreme Court’s interpretation of federal tort law in a 1950 ruling, but supporters of a change have been energized by the case of a Marine who died because his doctor never told him he had been diagnosed with melanoma.

Debate on the bill turned on the potential effects of having more plaintiffs’ lawyers involved in the military’s medical system. "Creating a special right to sue is not what will improve medical benefits," said John Altenburg Jr., a retired Army major general who previously represented the Army before Congress. Now of counsel with Greenberg Traurig’s D.C. office, he spoke against the bill. (The Defense Department has declined to comment on the bill.)

Judiciary Chairman John Conyers (D-Mich.), who will play a key role in the passage of any changes to the legal system, sided with the bill’s supporters, who include the American Association for Justice. "I don’t know what some lawyers have against other lawyers," he told Republicans on the committee. "When you want a lawyer, you want a tough, aggressive lawyer, but when someone else wants a lawyer, it’s ‘Here we go into litigation again.’ "
Lawmakers have not held hearings this year on most of the items on the plaintiffs lawyers’ agenda. But beginning this week, repealing pre-emption of medical device lawsuits is likely to move to the top of the list. Supporters note the momentum they gained March 4 when the Supreme Court, in Wyeth v. Levine, ruled that federal law does not pre-empt state torts against pharmaceutical manufacturers. The ruling, which plaintiffs’ lawyers cheered, created a contrast with last year’s Riegel decision.

"There’s no real reason to draw a distinction between medical devices and the medication that’s approved by the FDA," says Patrick Regan, name partner in Regan Zambri & Long in D.C.

Supporters of pre-emption argue that manufacturers need to be able to rely on one national standard for safety so that they know when they’ve met their obligations under the law.

The proposed ban on mandatory arbitration for consumers has the potential to be a much larger fight. Provisions requiring arbitration are often included in standard service contracts, whether the contracts are for telephone service or for care of a relative in a nursing home. Businesses see them as a more efficient way of resolving disputes, while consumer advocates say most people never realize what they’re committing to.

"There’s unequal footing when a consumer signs one of these agreements. They’re long, they’re in fine print, and they’re complicated, and the consumer has no bargaining power," says Wayne Cohen, managing partner of Cohen & Cohen and past president of the D.C. trial lawyers association.

Two main bills would approach the arbitration issue differently. One sponsored by Rep. Hank Johnson (D-Ga.) would institute a broad ban on mandatory arbitration for contracts involving consumers and employment. Another sponsored by Rep. Linda Sanchez (D-Calif.) would apply the ban only to nursing home contracts—what some business advocates consider the start of a piecemeal approach designed to divide industries.

"The trial lawyers do better when they try to isolate parts of the business community," Schwartz says. "They pick the business community apart in little places."

Lipsen doesn’t deny the strategy. "The more bills you have introduced on a certain topic, the more interest there is," she says. "It encourages potential hearings on the subject."

THE RECESSION STRATEGY
Helping with the trial lawyers association’s lobbying efforts last year were a handful of outside firms, including Patton Boggs, Palmetto Group, and Forscey & Stinson.

Affecting the strategy for all bills about litigation will be the recession, which each side is looking to turn to its advantage.

"In these tough economic times the last thing we need is more lawsuits," says Harold Kim, senior vice president at the Institute for Legal Reform, which is affiliated with the U.S.

Chamber of Commerce. "Our legal system is already the most expensive in the world. The transaction costs are high, and they are extremely inefficient when measured against other dispute resolution alternatives."

Lipsen says families are looking for safe products more than ever. "These are issues that don’t cost the taxpayer anything," she says. "There are some real thorny issues with the economy that are being dealt with, but these issues of fairness and accountability and responsibility, these are issues that aren’t going to bankrupt the country. They’re just going to add fairness back."

David Ingram can be contacted at david.ingram@incisivemedia.com.

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call
the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.

 

Posted In Tort Reform
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Texas Judges Agree: Tort Reform Unnecessary

A recent two-year survey of Texas judges shows that runaway juries and frivolous lawsuits are mostly fictional events and that tort reform legislation isn't necessary.  To evaluate the nation's need for tort reform,  Baylor Law School researchers surveyed a broad sample of trial judges, whose unique position allows them to view the same evidence as jurors, yet remain non-partisan regarding trial outcomes.  Impartial observation of numerous trials over time also guards against the possibility that a judge would adopt broad generalizations based on individual, isolated verdicts.

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Angoff Report Reveals Record Profits for Malpractice Insurance Companies

The profitability of selling medical malpractice insurance has skyrocketed in recent years.  Consequently, most malpractice insurance companies have routinely "over-reserved" (set aside more profit) than is necessary.  These are among the findings of former Missouri Insurance Commissioner Jay Angoff, who recently analyzed the 2006 financial statements of the 15 largest medical malpractice insurance companies in the U.S., and issued a report entitled, "No Basis for High Insurance Rates:  An Analysis of the 15 Largest Medical Malpractice Insurers' 2006 Financial Statements."

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Doctors Stress Over Medical Errors (And So Does Everyone Else)

Other blogs and the media have given significant coverage, lately, to a study by Washington University researchers highlighting the emotional turmoil American doctors suffer when they injure a patient through negligence or malpractice.  The research is almost as interesting as the misplaced sympathies it seems to engender in media circles.  The Joint Commission published the report this month in their Journal on Quality and Patient Safety, implying that many safety shortcomings in our health system are systematic, and perhaps not the sole responsibility of the system’s most visible custodians and benefactors.  Policy pundits have echoed those sentiments.  While few would accuse physicians of being disaffected or unconcerned by the injuries they inadvertently inflict on patients, fewer still would argue that they aren’t in a position to effect change, or that their responsibility for the health of patients is applicable only for the duration of seven-minute clinical encounter.

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Corp(orate) Reform, Not Tort Reform: Absurd "Pants Case" Shows Strengths of Legal System

In an Op-Ed in the Montgomery Advertiser newspaper, Alabama Association for Justice President Bob Prince recently explained how the outcome of a $54 million suit against a metro dry cleaning business illustrates the strengths of the nation's legal system -- much to the chagrin of anti-consumer CEOs who peddle "tort reform."  The piece is reprinted below in its entirety.

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Voters Worry About Corporate Crime, Support Pro-Civil Justice Politicians

An important American Association for Justice poll reveals that voters are significantly worried about corporate malfeasance -- especially regarding the pharmaceutical industry -- and aren't likely to rally behind political candidates who advocate tort reform.  Less than a quarter of those polled believed that juries award too much money to victims of personal injury.

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Recent "Lost Pants" Trial Shows That Justice System Works Well

Recently, a "lost pants" case became high profile because the plaintiff was an administrative law judge and the complaint was perceived as being outrageous.  As Richard Alderman, Associate Dean for Academic Affairs and Director of the Center for Consumer Law at the University of Houston Law Center, wrote in the Houston Chronicle, the justice system works to protect consumers who suffer injuries due to someone else's fault.  We have reproduced Mr. Alderman's article in its entirety below. 

For information about your legal rights, please click here or call
the law firm of Regan Zambri & Long, PLLC at 202-463-3030.    




Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Access to Ob-Gyns Continues to Increase Belying Malpractice "Crisis"

For years now, proponents of medical malpractice "reform" have alleged that physicians, particularly ob-gyns, have been fleeing jurisdictions leaving more and more counties throughout the country without access to doctors.  In fact, in his 2006 State of the Union address, President Bush told the nation that there are "nearly 1,500 American counties without a single ob-gyn."  This statement, however, is simply wrong.
Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Tort Reform Groups Are Data-Starved

For decades, "tort reform" groups have been desperately trying to strip American citizens of their ability and right to access the courts and obtain fair justice.  In pushing their agenda, they have relied on data-starved rhetoric and biased opinions in order to influence the public to serve their special interests.  Thankfully, unbiased consumer advocacy groups have challenged the rhetoric and, through comprehensive studies, have elicited the truth regarding the civil justice system.

Once such advocacy group is the Center for Justice & Democracy. Recently, this organization has conducted a comprehensive study of the civil justice system.  Its findings can be found on its website at http://www.centerjd.org.  Among other things, the study addresses jury verdicts, the costs of the tort system, awards of punitive damages throughout the nation, lawyers' fees, the impact of the justice system on medical malpractice premiums, and other very important issues.  It is clear from the study, that the "tort reformers" have been greatly misleading the American public.

We at Regan Zambri & Long encourage you to familiarize yourself with the Center for Justice and Democracy's study so that you can stand up against the efforts of those to strip you of your rights.
Posted In Tort Reform
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American Association for Justice: New Name

On December 11, the Association of Trial Lawyers of America changed its name to the American Association for Justice (AAJ).   Changing the name to the American Association for Justice is an important step in our campaign to protect and strengthen the civil justice system. 
Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Elections: Victory for the Civil Justice System

As trial attorneys we have been attacked for years by the insurance companies and their big business allies who want to  eliminate the civil justice system and close the courthouse to injured individuals.  However,  the civil justice system was the big winner in the elections last week, as Americans voted for change.  Candidates who support the civil justice system have won, while the vast majority of campaigns attacking the civil justice system and trial lawyers failed. Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Americans Against Politicians' Influence on Federal Judges

A poll conducted by Opinion Research Corp., on behalf of CNN, found that 67 percent of 1,013 people surveyed said elected officials should not have more control over federal judges. Only 41 percent of respondents believed judges are "about right" in their court decisions. Thirty-four percent agreed that judges were too liberal while twenty percent said they were too conservative.  CNN, CNN  10/28/2006
Posted In Tort Reform
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Profits for Insurers Sky-Rocket

Despite what insurance companies want you to believe, there is no medical malpractice insurance crisis in this country. In fact, studies have proven that medical malpractice lawsuits have decreased throughout the country. So why are the doctors’ insurance premiums so high? Greed.

Continue Reading Posted In Tort Reform
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Trial Lawyers Attempt to Help Doctors Lower Their Medical Malpractice Premiums

The Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association has asked the state insurance commissioner to examine the premiums charged by the Connecticut Medical Insurance Company.  It appears that the insurance firm is charging too much given its profits and reserves.  The insurance firm made $12.5 million in profit last year, up from $7.6 million in 2004.  Given these profits, and the size of its surplus, the Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association feels that the insurer should reduce premiums as much as 10 percent.  The insurance commissioner is considering the request for a review, but no action has been taken yet. 
Posted In Tort Reform
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Patient Safety Must Be the Heart of Medical Malpractice Liability Reform

In 1999, the Institute of Medicine (IOM) first issued its groundbreaking report where it estimated that 98,000 deaths in the United States occur each year as a result of medical errors. The report also concluded that ninety percent of those errors were attributable to systems issues such as procedural issues and failures in communication. Unfortunately, despite the rhetoric that followed, the errors continue.  Our political leaders need to focus on fixing the systemic issues through mandatory use of technology and other proven methods and stop blaming individual practioner and their patients who are all victims of the unsafe systems currently in place.

In a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine, authored by Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama, they provide suggestions as to how our country can achieve the two key objectives, which are eliminating errors that cause patient's harm and fixing the medical insurance climate for practicing doctors.  Clinton and Obama outline four key points: 1) reducing the rates of preventable patient injuries; 2) promoting open communication between physicians and patients; 3) ensuring patients access to fair compensation for legitimate medical injuries; and 4) reducing liability insurance premiums for health care providers.

We need to refocus on the key issues, which are patient safety.  If we can make the system safer for the patients and the doctors who practice in the system, while maintaining a fair system of compensation for legitimate injuries then the cost of insurance for the doctors will also be reasonable and everyone wins.

Continue Reading Posted In Patient Safety , Public Health , Tort Reform
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Hillary Clinton Introduces "Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act"

Senators Hillary Clinton and Barack Obama recently introduced the "Medical Error Disclosure and Compensation Act." This bill would provide funding to doctors, hospitals, and health systems that put in place mechanisms to promptly disclose medical mistakes or other mishaps to patients, offer compensation if the health provider is at fault, and ensure that those mistakes are reported to experts who can analyze them and recommend system changes to avoid similar problems in the future.

According to Seantor Barak Obama, a co-sponsor of the legislation, early disclosure systems, such as a program called "Sorry Works" really can work.  Mr. Obama claims that,   "(P)atients sue less, get compensated more, malpractice premiums go down, and doctors learn from mistakes." 

According to Richard Boothman, Chief Risk Officer at the University of Michigan Hospital System since the hospital sytem instituted a program to discuss complaints and errors promptly after they occur, the system has seen "a sharp reduction in claims, insurance costs, and the time it takes to address complaints."
Posted In Tort Reform
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American Medical Association Recommends Mandated Health Insurance

The American Medical Association recently proposed that all individuals making more than $50,000 per year be required to purchase health insurance. The proposal includes tax penalties for individuals who don't purchase health insurance as well as tax credits and subsidies to assist lower-income individuals in purchasing policies. "The AMA just took a huge step toward supporting universal health care for all Americans," said Dr. Jack Lewin, executive vice president of the California Medical Association, which sponsored the proposal. "Historically, the AMA has supported voluntary approaches, but never a mandate." Although Congress or state legislatures would need to enact laws to mandate health insurance coverage, the AMA's lobbying efforts have been effective in gaining government support for its policy statements in the past.

Estimates from 2004 indicate that about 45 million people in the United States are without health insurance. According to the AMA's suggestion, reforms in the insurance markets should also be made to keep plans affordable.

Health policy experts are also in favor of the individual mandate for health insurance. "It's really amazing how quickly the individual mandate went from an occasional discussion among policy wonks to something advocated by major players, such as the AMA," said Paul Ginsburg, president of the Center for Studying Health System Change, a nonpartisan research group in Washington. "Broader acceptance of this idea may be the key to government's moving more aggressively to expand health insurance coverage."

Posted In Tort Reform
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Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Study: Beware of Assumptions

A recent study by a group of Boston health-policy researchers of almost 1,500 randomly selected malpractice suits in the U.S. concluded that "the problem with medical malpractice litigation is not that too many undeserving people get paid, but rather that not enough deserving people get paid." Full details of the study are reported at Legal Debate: Assumptions on medical malpractice called into question: Science News Online, May 13, 2006 and The New England Journal of Medicine, May 11, 2006.

Posted In Tort Reform
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Center for Constitutional Litigation Wins Two Important Legal Victories

The Center for Constitutional Litigation, PC (CCL) received two trial-level victories during the first week of February 2006. CCL is engaged in challenging laws that impede access to justice throughout the country. Additional details are available at ATLA's Court News.

First, in Alaska, a trial court denied the Attorney General's motion for reconsideration in Patrick v. State of Alaska, and upheld its earlier decision that the state's $400,000 cap on non-economic damages is unconstitutional. Four years ago, the Alaska Supreme Court, by an equally divided vote, rejected a facial challenge to that statute. This case was an "as applied" challenge involving a Native Alaskan, who had been "tasered" by a state trooper and awarded $1 million in non-economic damages. The trial court invalidated the cap on equal protection grounds last spring, but the Attorney General moved for reconsideration on the basis of new evidence, consisting of some 1300 pages of legislative history and studies purporting to justify the cap. CCL's Ned Miltenberg argued in a brief for the plaintiff that the "new evidence" could not be taken into account on a motion to reconsider, and was repetitive and unpersuasive. He supplemented the record with contrary evidence showing that Alaska had not experienced a litigation, insurance, business, or physician exodus crisis.

The second decision came in a CCL challenge to the application of the new federal vicarious liability law enacted last summer, which generally immunized car rental companies from vicarious liability. CCL attorney Andre Mura successfully argued to a state Circuit Court (trial level) in Brevard County, Florida, that the new law does not apply in Florida because the federal statute contains an exception that preserves liability for failure to meet state financial responsibility laws and that Florida has such a qualifying law. The judge ruled in favor of CCL's argument from the bench and will be issuing an order shortly. The case, Poole v. Enterprise Leasing Company of Orlando, appears to be the first case to test the application of the new federal vicarious liability law. If interpreted broadly, the federal law could preempt the laws of fifteen states and the District of Columbia, which impose some measure of liability on lessors in order to ensure that compensation is available to innocent victims of motor vehicle accidents. CCL expects that constitutional challenges to the federal statute will be mounted in those other states as well.

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People Over Profits Action Network

Corporate America and the Insurance Industry are after More than Just Your Money. They want to take away your rights, knowing they can make even higher profits by keeping honest, hardworking Americans out of the courtroom. Please go to this website to find out how you can fight back and make a difference.

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Medical Malpractice Insurance Premiums Not Influenced by Patient Lawsuits

A recent comprehensive study by a leading insurance industry analyst reveals that medical malpractice insurance premiums are not influenced by patient lawsuits. The June 2005 report by Jay Angoff concludes, among other things, that "over the last five years the amount the major medical malpractice insurers have collected in premiums has more than doubled, while their claims payouts have remained essentially flat."

As Angoff's report details, the 15 major medical malpractice insurers increased their premiums by 120% even though their net payouts on claims increased by less than 6%. This amounts to a stunning increase in premiums at a rate 21 times the increase in payouts.

As with all other credible independent studies, this report confirms our belief that insurance companies are falsely raising the spectre of lawsuit abuse to exploit consumers and reap unconscionable profits.

To read the complete study, please click here.

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Medical Boards Fail to Protect Patients from Negligent Doctors

A recent comprehensive report published by a leading independent consumer advocacy group reveals that most states are not living up to their obligations to protect patients from doctors who fail to practice medicine in conformance with accepted industry standards. Public Citizen, a national non-profit public interest organization, collected data from the Federation of State Medical Boards on the number of disciplinary actions taken against doctors in 2002-2004. In an April 2005 report, Public Citizen concluded that the following states have the least effective disciplinary procedures: Hawaii, Delaware, Wisconsin, Minnesota, Maryland, Nevada, Rhode Island, Arkansas, South Carolina, Washington, Tennessee, Mississippi, Michigan, Connecticut, and Florida.

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Doctors Sue to Silence Critics

Victims of medical malpractice are taking their opinions of their local doctors to the Internet, and a wider audience, and that has some medical providers on edge. In an effort to prevent patients from voicing their complaints and educating the public concerning poor medical care, many doctors are filing lawsuits in an attempt to limit patients' free speech rights.

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U.S. Department of Justice Says Federal Tort Filings Down; New Study Contradicts Claims of a "Litigation Explosion"

A report issued by the U.S. Department of Justice's Bureau of Justice Statistics shows that the number of tort cases resolved in U.S. district courts fell 79 percent between 1985 and 2003. Other key findings include:

-- In 1985, 3,600 tort trials were decided by a judge or jury in U.S. district courts;

-- By 2003, that number had dropped to less than 800;

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Maryland Law Limits the Rights of Malpractice Victims

In an emergency session of the legislature, the Maryland Patients' Access to Quality Health Care Act of 2004 was passed over Governor Ehrlich's veto.

The bill freezes the amount of compensation a jury can award for pain and suffering damages at $650,000 until December 25, 2008 (after which it will increase $15,000 per year) and reduces the cap on damages in death cases from $1.6 million to $812,500. This cap applies only to medical malpractice cases.

The bill also requires doctors who testify in malpractice suits to be familiar with the specialty of the doctor they testify against, encourages settlement of malpractice cases by mediation, and creates a people's counsel to represent citizens before the Maryland Insurance Administration.

To read the unofficial language of the bill, please click here.

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Immunity for Vioxx Makers? The Dirty Secret About the U.S. House Medical Malpractice Bill

One dirty little secret about the so-called "Medical Malpractice Bill" (H.R. 5) pending in the U.S. House of Representatives is that hidden in the bill are unfair product liability protections for the drug industry: sweeping immunities that will make it impossible for people injured or killed by unsafe drugs—like Vioxx—to hold drug manufacturers accountable.

For instance, H.R. 5 protects drug makers by capping damages for any injury, even death, at $250,000. Thus, no matter how serious the injury it causes, and no matter how negligent its misconduct, a drug company like Merck will never have to pay more than $250,000 in compensation for noneconomic loss to patients and families who are injured or killed by defective drugs. The bottom line is that, under H.R. 5, drug companies will keep their profits while injured people are denied justice.

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Report Reveals Malpractice Insurance Price Gouging

A recently released study of medical malpractice insurance premiums charged by insurance companies supports what we have been saying for several years: payments to innocent malpractice survivors are not responsible for increased malpractice insurance premiums. The study, released in July 2005, suggests that doctors are victims of price-gouging by insurance companies who continue to raise malpractice insurance premiums even as claims decline.

According to the Attorney General of one state: "The data in the Annual Statements filed under oath with state insurance departments, which this Report discloses, call into question much of what the medical malpractice insurance industry has been saying publicly during the past several years." Click here for the full article text.

"The numbers underscore the need for much tougher, more aggressive oversight to prevent and punish profiteering," Connecticut Attorney General Richard Blumenthal said. "Federal and state regulators should thoroughly scrutinize recent rate increases and take appropriate corrective action."

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