ReSource ReCaps Wednesday November 9, 2011
Medical Professional Liability News
A weekly update of significant news articles from around the nation and the world relating to
medical professional liability insurance and reinsurance. This news recap is provided with our compliments
by ReSource, an Integro Company.
Chicago Medical Malpractice Attorney Stephen D.
Phillips Settles Multimillion Dollar Wrongful Death Inside this issue:
Claim (IL) Chicago Medical Malpractice Attor- 1
PRWeb.com, Herndon, VA Phillips said that in a deposition, one of ney Stephen D. Phillips Settles Multimil-
November 8, 2011 lion Dollar Wrongful Death Claim
the hospital nurses admitted that she had
contacted the hospital administrators via Lawyers Consider Filing About 100 2
Stephen D. Phillips of the Chicago per- Malpractice Cases Against Dr. Spyros
numerous emails and conversations, Panos
sonal injury law firm Phillips Law Offices
saying that the nurses on the floor where
has obtained a multimillion dollar settle- IronHealth Launches Medical Profes- 2
the client was treated were overworked
ment on behalf of the family of a 55-year- sional Liability Cover for Facilities Serv-
and had too many patients. The hospital ing Low Incomes
old physician in a wrongful death case.
had rebuffed her concerns and appar-
EHR Vendors Endorse Medical Error 2
Stephen D. Phillips represented the Es- ently put profits over safe patient care, Reporting System
tate of Kevin Parsons. Parsons, one of she said in an interview with CBS News (LA) Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed 3
only 300 people in the world suffering Chicago that also included comments After Intuitive Surgical Robotic Device
from Lambert Eaton Myasthenic Syn- from Phillips and the victim’s wife, Hillary
drome (LEMS), a rare neurological disor- Parsons. Medical Malpractice Reform Efforts 3
der, went into a coma after receiving in-
The agreement resolves Hillary Parsons’ (WY) Metier Wins $9 Million Verdict in 3
sulin from a nurse who did not read the
lawsuit against Northwestern Memorial Medical Malpractice Suit Against Wyo-
physician’s order directing that it not be ming Regional Hospital
Hospital and the Northwestern Faculty
given, according to court documents.
Foundation. Judge Diane Larsen in the Diagnosticians Run Higher Malpractice 4
Kevin Parsons was a physician and one Risk
Circuit Court of Cook County (Case #
of the leading researchers in the world 10L 4749) approved the settlement. (MO) Limit on Malpractice Damages 4
on his disease. He was at the hospital as
“We are delighted to have been able to Medicus Insurance Company Receives 4
the first patient to try a stem cell trans-
help our client reach this result,” Stephen “A” Rating From A.M. Best
plant as a cure for the disease. His story
Phillips said. He pointed out that it is both Lifespan Hospitals Investigated For Med 5
first drew national attention ten years ago Errors of 2,000 Patients
tragic and ironic that this type of obvious
when People magazine ran a story de-
error would happen to a physician in this
age of physicians protesting malpractice
[Kevin Parson’s struggle with LEMS
__title__ People Magazine article about http://www.prweb.com/releases/2011/11/
Kevin Parson's LEMS]. prweb8945089.htm
Page 2 ReSource ReCaps
Lawyers Consider Filing About 100 Mal- The development of community health care centers is
practice Cases Against Dr. Spyros funded by the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act to
Panos offer primary services to low income, Medicaid and unin-
sured patients, according to the statement.
Poughkeepsie Journal, Poughkeepsie, NY
Market segment expected to grow
November 8, 2011
After an annual application process, the federally qualified
Dozens of new lawsuits alleging medical malpractice are centers and their employees are protected against medical
pending against a Dutchess County-based orthopedic sur- malpractice under the Federal Tort Claims Act, IronHealth
geon, his former employer where he sat on the board of di- said in the statement.
rectors and was a shareholder, and two mid-Hudson hospi-
tals where he performed surgeries.
Lawyers say about 100 cases against Dr. Spyros Panos 7C342%7C303
have been discussed but have yet to be filed due to the
lengthy process involved in malpractice research and paper-
EHR Vendors Endorse Medical Error Re-
Panos is accused in 10 lawsuits of performing surgeries but
intentionally not treating or improperly treating patients' inju- InformationWeek, San Francisco, CA
ries. His former employer, Mid Hudson Medical Group, is November 7, 2011
also a defendant in nine of those cases. Saint Francis Hos-
pital is a co-defendant in three cases, while Vassar Brothers Recognizing that electronic health records (EHRs) can and
Medical Center is being sued by a former Panos patient as do cause medical errors, a group of EHR vendors has
well. agreed to support a patient-safety organization's online sys-
tem for reporting adverse events.
The 10 cases were filed or were in the process of being filed
before the Poughkeepsie Journal's Sept. 23 news article, The HIMSS EHR Association, an affiliate of the Healthcare
announcing Panos had been fired from Mid Hudson Medical Information and Management Systems Society (HIMSS) that
in July. A review of the suits offers more details behind the represents 44 EHR vendors, announced Monday that it is
allegations overall. promoting the use of EHRevent, a year-old reporting system
developed by the iHealth Alliance. The iHealth Alliance is a
http://www.poughkeepsiejournal.com/article/20111108/ patient-safety organization convened by major U.S. medical
NEWS01/111080315/Lawyers-consider-filing-about-100- societies, medical malpractice insurers, other patient-safety
malpractice-cases-against-Dr-Spyros-Panos advocates, and liaisons from the U.S. Food and Drug Ad-
IronHealth Launches Medical Profes- This news comes as influential consulting firm the AC Group
sional Liability Cover for Facilities Serv- has been circulating a white paper questioning whether
ing Low Incomes EHRs may unwittingly raise physician risk for malpractice
lawsuits, and whether poorly implemented EHRs would
Business Journal, New York, NY
prompt liability insurers to raise their premiums. Meanwhile,
November 8, 2011
the Institute of Medicine is preparing to release a major re-
port this week on health IT and patient safety.
IronHealth has launched medical professional liability cover-
age for medical facilities that treat low- to moderate-income As InformationWeek Healthcare reported, one vendor,
patients. Athenahealth, is preparing a plan to cover the malpractice
insurance premiums of certain customers and help those
The Health Qualified Center Medical Professional Liability
clients defend against malpractice suits.
coverage aims to address liability risk exposures of federally
qualified health centers that serve low income communities, http://www.informationweek.com/news/healthcare/
the health care insurance unit of Hamilton, Bermuda-based EMR/231902490
Ironshore Inc. said in a Tuesday statement.
Page 3 ReSource ReCaps
Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Filed After then, tort reform on the federal level has been put on ice, a
Intuitive Surgical Robotic Device Mal- victim of both tight money and bitter politics.
functioned Malpractice provisions in the Patient Protection and Afford-
able Care Act were limited in the first place — $50 million for
The Louisiana Record, Edwardsville, IL
expanded state demonstration projects. And Congress didn’t
November 7, 2011
fund it. Nor did the administration get the $250 million it re-
quested for fiscal year 2012 for the Department of Justice to
Claiming a robotic surgical procedure failed during neck sur-
explore alternative approaches.
gery, Jennifer Silvestrini filed a medical malpractice lawsuit
against Intuitive Surgical Inc. and/or Intuitive Surgical Sys- Meanwhile, House Republicans are pushing for the kind of
tems Inc. and University Healthcare Systems, d/b/a Tulane reform they’ve backed for many years — a $250,000 federal
University Hospital and Clinic. cap on noneconomic damages and shortening the statute of
The suit was filed on Sept. 26 in Orleans Parish Civil District
Court and the defendants removed the case to New Orleans http://www.politico.com/news/stories/1111/67780.html
federal court on Oct. 28.
Silvestrini was admitted to Tulane University Hospital and Metier Wins $9 Million Verdict in Medical
Clinic on Oct. 7, 2010 for robotic transaxillary total thyroidec- Malpractice Suit Against Wyoming Re-
tomy to be performed by Dr. Emad Kandil. During the sur- gional Hospital
gery, there was an "unexplained, malfunction/breakdown of
the robotic device," that could not be fixed by the doctor or The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY
the staff, according to the complaint. November 4, 2011
Silvestrini claims the malfunction occurred when the ma- Tom Metier of Metier Law Firm, LLC, of Cheyenne, Wyo-
chine was inserted in her neck. ming and Fort Colllins, Colorado, obtained a $9 million ver-
Although by agreement and contract, Intuitive Surgical Sys- dict for plaintiffs Louis and Rebecca Prager against Camp-
tems is to have available service personnel who could rap- bell County Memorial Hospital and Brian Cullison, M.D. for
idly troubleshoot malfunctions with the device, the hospital medical negligence. Metier was acting as trial counsel for
was unable to contact anyone and fix the problem, the law- Casper attorneys Todd Ingram and Scott Olheiser of Ingram
suit claims. Silvestrini's family agreed to convert her surgery Olheiser, P.C. Ingram and Olheiser successfully litigated the
to a "traditional" one, which involved opening a long area in case prior to trial. The verdict is believed to be the highest
her neck. medical malpractice verdict on record in Wyoming. Accord-
ing to officials and news archives, the previous record was
device-malfunctioned The verdict in favor of Louis and Rebecca Prager was ren-
dered late last Thursday, October 27th, 2011, in Federal
District Court in Cheyenne. The jury found that Cullison, a
Medical Malpractice Reform Efforts Board Certified Emergency Physician employed by the re-
Stalled gional hospital, breached the standard of medical care by
failing to diagnose Louis Prager's broken neck, causing
Politico, Arlington, VA
Prager permanent left shoulder paralysis, debilitating pain
November 7, 2011
and depriving Prager of the ability to work. The jury also
In a bid to win support for health reform from skeptical doc- found the negligence of Cullison and the hospital harmed
tors back in 2009, President Barack Obama pledged action the Prager's marital relationship, resulting in loss of consor-
on an item near the top of their wish list — malpractice re- tium damages to Rebecca Prager.
And he delivered an initial step: $25 million to test alterna- verdict-in-medical-malpractice-suit-against-wyoming-
tives to the medical liability system. That won praise from regional-hospital-2011-11-04
the American Medical Association, among others. But since
Page 4 ReSource ReCaps
Diagnosticians Run Higher Malpractice jury awarded Sanders and his daughters nearly $1 million to
Risk pay back medical bills as well as $9.2 million in non-
economic damages, those that aren’t related to medical or
UPI.com, Washington, DC monetary costs.
November 3, 2011
There was just one problem: The doctor’s attorneys whipped
Diagnostic physicians may be at higher malpractice risk due out a state statute that caps the non-economic damages a
to communication failures among doctors, U.S. researchers jury can award in medical malpractice lawsuits. That statute
said. knocked down Sanders’ non-economic awards to $1.2 mil-
lion; his attorneys responded that the statute was unconsti-
Dr. Brian D. Gale of the State University of New York Down- tutional. The case was appealed and cross-appealed to the
state Medical Center in Brooklyn and colleagues said clini- Missouri Supreme Court.
cians have ordered dramatically greater numbers of diag-
nostic examinations during the past decade. Judges in the state’s high court heard arguments Wednes-
day from the attorneys on whether the legislature’s cap on
The rapid growth of diagnostic testing appears to be placing non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits vio-
physicians at greater risk for medical malpractice claims for
lates the Missouri Constitution.
test communication failures, Gale said.
The researchers also cite a study demonstrating that from damages-contested/
1996 to 2003, malpractice payments related to diagnosis
increased by approximately 40 percent.
Medicus Insurance Company Receives
The study, published in the Journal of the American College
"A" Rating from A.M. Best
of Radiology, found the contributing factors in malpractice
cases associated with communication failures include failure The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY
of physicians and patients to receive results, delays in report November 3, 2011
findings and lengthy turnaround time.
A.M. Best, the insurance rating service, has given Medicus
Using data from the National Practitioner Data Bank, the
Insurance Company an A (Excellent) rating following their
study authors found the total indemnity payout across all
acquisition by NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company.
medical specialties for U.S. claims related to the three types
Medicus joins the NORCAL Group of companies, including
of communication failures they studied increased from $21.7
NORCAL Mutual Insurance Company of San Francisco, CA
million in 1991 to $91 million in 2010.
and PMSLIC Insurance Company of Mechanicsburg, PA.
http://www.upi.com/Health_News/2011/11/03/Diagnosticians According to A.M. Best, the rating reflects the Group's excel-
-run-higher-malpractice-risk/UPI-45721320377091/ lent risk-adjusted capitalization and strong operating per-
formance. Recognition is also given to the historical pattern
of favorable loss reserve development.
Limit on Malpractice Damages Con-
tested "We are very pleased that Medicus has earned such a posi-
tive rating from A.M. Best," commented Scott Diener, Presi-
CBS St. Louis, St. Louis, MO dent and CEO of the NORCAL Group. "As the NORCAL
November 3, 2011 Group expands onto a national platform, this strong rating
from A.M. Best will allow a new group of insureds to become
The right of those harmed by doctors to collect high-dollar
acquainted with the customer-focused services offered by
damages came before the seven justices of the Missouri
NORCAL Group companies."
Supreme Court on Wednesday.
In their rating assignment, A.M. Best recognized that
When Ronald Sanders’ wife died of brain damage in 2005,
"Medicus will also benefit from NORCAL's leadership posi-
tion in the medical professional liability market, its...
He sued a whole slew of doctors for wrongful death and
medical malpractice, and he dismissed or settled with all but
one, neurologist Iftekhar Ahmed. At the end of the trial, the
Lifespan Hospitals Investigated For Med Errors of 2,000 Patients
FierceHealthcare, Washington, DC tions. Lifespan also said emergency room and outpatients
November 3, 2011 were not affected by the problem.
Five Rhode Island hospitals operated by Lifespan are un- Lifespan, which anticipates contacting all affected patients
der investigation for allegedly instructing 2,000 discharged by today, is urging those patients to contact their primary
patients to take the wrong forms of medications, reported care provider to review medication instructions at no cost to
the Associated Press yesterday. Although there are no re- the patient and said it will provide a hospital visit at no cost
ports that patients were harmed, state health officials are if they do not have a primary care provider.
looking into whether Newport Hospital, Miriam Hospital,
"We apologize to patients and their families for any incon-
Bradley Hospital, Rhode Island Hospital, and Hasbro Chil-
venience or problems caused by this issue," Lifespan said
dren's Hospital mixed up prescribed time-release medica-
in a statement.
tions with regular medications. Time-release meds are typi-
cally taken once a day versus regular forms taken multiple The event has captured the attention of Sen. Jamie Doyle
times a day. (D-R.I.) who is calling for an independent review of all Life-
span hospitals and a review of the Rhode Island...
Lifespan said a software error may be to blame, which gen-
erated medication instructions for the discharged patients. http://www.fiercehealthcare.com/story/lifespan-hospitals-
The hospital operator has contacted 90 percent of the af- investigated-med-errors-2k-patients/2011-11-03?
fected patients and said it corrected many of their prescrip- utm_medium=nl&utm_source=internal
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