ReSource ReCaps Wednesday August 24, 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.
Maryland Medical Malpractice Lawsuit Results in
$2.5M Jury Award Inside this issue:
Aboutlawsuits.com, Baltimore, MD ton, of Miller & Zois LLC, who repre- (MD) Maryland Medical Malpractice 1
August 23, 2011 sented Dixon’s wife Kathleen, and their Lawsuit Results in $2.5M Jury Award
two children, Michael Dixon and Eliza- Greater Awareness of Practice Guide- 2
The family of a man who died as a result lines Helps Reduce Unrecommended
beth Lessig. One of those signs was that
of a doctor’s failure to diagnose that he Tests
Dixon had not produced urine in 24
was suffering hemorrhagic shock has (NH) Midwife Settles Suit for $730,000 2
hours. He also had a rapid heartbeat, low
been awarded $2.5 million in damages Study Finds Response Time to Cardiac 2
blood pressure and was losing lucidity,
by a Maryland jury. Ailments Much Improved
all of which should have clued Harding in
Physician Errors During Patient Hand- 2
The Maryland malpractice lawsuit was on Dixon’s blood loss, the attorney ar- offs Lead to Liability Claims
filed by the family of Lawrence Dixon, 59, gued.
(AR) Medical Malpractice Rates Fall 3
who died on May 17, 2007, two days af-
The defense claimed that Dixon died be- (PA) $5.2 Million Malpractice Award 3
ter fracturing his pelvis in a fall. The law-
cause of a medication known as kayex- Against Ex-Wyomissing Doctor Upheld
suit initially included Montgomery Gen-
alate. It is a thick drink that reduces high (FL) $36.7 Million Verdict Against Or- 3
eral Hospital and other staff members, lando Abortionist Upheld
potassium levels. Harding’s attorneys
but eventually the lawsuit was narrowed (WA) Sono Bello Settles Lawsuit for 3
argued in court that Dixon drank the
down to just the primary care physician. $1.8M in Liposuction Death
shake and it went directly into his lungs,
(CA) CMA Defends California’s Land- 4
According to allegations raised in the cutting off oxygen. However, Harding mark Medical Liability Law Before Ap-
complaint, Dr. David Harding failed to made no mention of it on Dixon’s death pellate Court
notice Dixon was bleeding internally certificate.
when he examined him. The family al-
The Montgomery County Circuit Court
leged that if Dr. Harding had noticed the
jury awarded Dixon’s estate and his wife
internal bleeding he could have saved
each $1 million in non-economic dam-
Dixon’s life, but as a result of the failure
ages. They also awarded his children
to diagnose the bleeding, Dixon ulti-
$250,000 each. Due to Maryland’s cap
mately died of multiple organ failure.
on non-economic damages, the total
There were a number of signs Harding award will likely be reduced to $812,500..
should have heeded that would have
alerted him to the problem, argued Mary-
land malpractice lawyer Rodney M. Gas-
Page 2 ReSource ReCaps
Greater Awareness of Practice Guide- Study Finds Response Time to Cardiac
lines Helps Reduce Unrecommended Ailments Much Improved
Medical News Today, East Sussex, TN
American Medical News, Chicago, IL August 23, 2011
August 24, 2011
Five years ago the treatment time it took to attend to cardiac
ailments was way behind what the standard calls for. How-
A physician-driven approach cut in half the number of un-
ever, this has greatly improved and now more than 90% of
warranted tests that doctors ordered for newly diagnosed
U.S. heart attack patients who required emergency angio-
prostate cancer patients, research shows.
plasty to open blocked coronary arteries received the treat-
Increased awareness of practice guidelines and being pre- ment within the recommended time in 2010. Five years past
sented with comparative data on tests they and their col- the rate was a low 44%.
leagues ordered resulted in more physicians following rec-
ommendations on what tests to order, according to a study In 2010, 91% of the patients were treated within 90 minutes
in the September issue of The Journal of Urology of arrival at the hospital, compared with 44% in 2005. Sev-
(www.ncbi.nlm.nih.gov/pubmed/21788043/). It also improved enty percent of patients were treated within 75 minutes in
the quality of care by reducing variations in practice pat- 2010, compared with 27% in 2005.
The median time from hospital admission to emergency an-
Fewer unnecessary tests -- in this case bone scans and gioplasty fell from 96 minutes to 64 minutes over the study
computerized tomography scans -- mean fewer patients are period.
exposed to radiation and the inherent risks.
Physician Errors During Patient Hand-
offs Lead to Liability Claims
Midwife Settles Suit for $730,000
DigitalJournal.com, Toronto, ON
Concord Monitor, Concord, NH August 20, 2011
August 23, 2011
Medical errors that occur while shifting a patient from one
The Concord midwife who last year surrendered her state physician's care to another has sparked an increase in medi-
license to practice has settled a lawsuit for $730,000 with cal malpractice claims over the last five years, according to
the family of a child who suffered severe brain injury during Alan Lembitz, MD, vice president of COPIC, a Denver-based
her birth. professional liability insurance company. Incomplete patient
Jeanne Browne has also settled a second lawsuit with a information, missing test results and poor communication
woman who underwent a hysterectomy after developing an among physicians head the list of errors, as reported in Am-
infection while in Browne's care. The terms of that agree- ednews.com.
ment, which was finalized in June, have not been made pub- Changing Practices and Poor Communication at Fault
The team approach to health care, including primary care
Browne's settlement with Sarah and Jonathan Sadowski of physicians and numerous health care specialists, has con-
Concord, whose daughter was hospitalized for 21 days after tributed to the problem.
her birth in January 2009 and has cerebral palsy...
A 2007 study in The Journal of the American Medical
http://www.concordmonitor.com/article/275131/midwife-settles-suit- Association found that direct communication between
hospitals and primary care physicians is rare - happen-
ing only 3 to 20 percent of the time.
Page 3 ReSource ReCaps
Medical Malpractice Rates Fall $36.7 Million Verdict Against Orlando
The City Wire, Fort Smith, AR
August 22, 2011 LifeSiteNews.com, Front Royal, VA
August 18, 2011
Medical malpractice rates are continuing a downward trend
in Arkansas, according to an annual report presented by the A judge has denied an Orlando-area abortionist a new trial
Arkansas Insurance Department to the Senate and House in a medical malpractice case decided by a jury last month.
Committees on Insurance and Commerce. Orlando Circuit Judge John Marshall Kest also denied a mo-
According to the report, submitted Aug. 15 by Bill Lacy, tion by James Scott Pendergraft IV to set aside verdicts for
property and casualty division manager, only two of the 22 $36.7 million in compensatory and punitive damages.
companies providing malpractice insurance in Arkansas filed The case involved a 2004 botched abortion at Pendergraft’s
for rate changes in the last 12 months, and both of those facility that left its intended target alive, but severely dis-
were decreases. Tennessee-based State Volunteer Mutual abled. The girl suffers from a host of disabilities in connec-
Insurance Company decreased rates by 5% effective June tion with the attempted killing, including cerebral palsy, loss
13, while Louisiana Medical Mutual Insurance Company de- of function on the left side of her body, strokes, mental dis-
creased its rates by 3.7% effective May 3. Both are physi- ability, chronic lung disease, and seizures.
cian-owned, and both insure physicians and surgeons.
It is not clear whether Pendergraft will appeal Kest’s ruling.
Three other companies made initial filings. MAG Mutual In-
surance Company, which insures physicians, filed on March During court proceedings, a fellow abortionist admitted that
31. Liberty Insurance Underwriters, which insures dentists, babies are sometimes born alive and left “wiggling around in
filed on Feb. 21. National Union Fire Insurance Company of the toilet” until they died.
Pittsburgh, which provides professional liability insurance for http://www.lifesitenews.com/news/367-million-verdict-against
physicians’ assistants, filed Jan. 5. -orlando-abortionist-upheld/
Sono Bello Settles Lawsuit for $1.8M in
$5.2 Million Malpractice Award Against Liposuction Death
Ex-Wyomissing Doctor Upheld King5.com, Seattle, WA
August 18, 2011
PennLive.com, Harrisburg, PA
August 20, 2011
If Aura Javellana were still alive she would be 30 years old.
Pennsylvania Superior Court has upheld a $5.2 million medi- "She wasn't just my sister, she wasn't just family, she was
cal malpractice suit award for the widow of a Spring Town- my best friend,” said Aileen Javellana Alvarez.
ship pharmacist after a jury found a former Wyomissing doc-
tor negligent in his death. Aura would be a wife, maybe even a mother.
Gregory S. Volutza, 37, died of a heart attack while at work "I always imagined me and my sister's kids playing to-
Jan. 24, 2003, in the pharmacy of the former Giant Food gether,” said Javellana Alvarez.
Store, 2251 Lancaster Pike, Cumru Township. Aura was the family's hope. She was the first college gradu-
A Berks County jury on Feb. 9, 2009, found Dr. Donald J. ate and a software whiz at 28. It all ended after a trip to
McBryan Jr., formerly of Berks Internal Medicine in Wyo- Sono Bello in Bellevue.
missing, negligent and awarded $4 million to Dianne Volutza Aura must have been convinced by Sono Bello's ads and
of Spring Township. marketing materials. One ad claimed "Sono Bello's micro
http://www.pennlive.com/newsflash/index.ssf/story/52-million laser liposuction and ultrasound techniques are so...
CMA defends California's Landmark Medical Liability Law Before Ap-
California Medical Association, Sacramento, CA In a post-verdict motion, the defendant moved to reduce
August 19, 2011 the noneconomic damages award pursuant to MICRA's
Last week, the California Medical Association (CMA) stood $250,000 cap. The plaintiff opposed the motion, arguing
in defense of California's successful Medical Injury Com- that MICRA is unconstitutional, because the medical pro-
pensation Reform Act (MICRA) before the 5th Appellate fessional liability insurance crisis of 1975 no longer exists,
District Court in Fresno. The court heard oral arguments in thereby eliminating the rational basis that originally justified
Stinnett v. Tam, a case challenging the constitutionality of MICRA. The trial court disagreed and granted the defen-
MICRA's cap on noneconomic damages. The California dant's motion. The plaintiff appealed.
Hospital Association, the California Dental Association and Today, MICRA is still working to restrain premium rates in
the American Medical Association also participated in the California, while states without liability reform are seeing
proceedings. dramatically higher premiums. Because of MICRA, Califor-
The original complaint, filed in 2007, concluded with a jury nia has a system that is affordable, pays patients for their
verdict awarding the plaintiff $148,302 for past economic full economic and medical losses, and promotes patient…
loss, $1,242,093 for future economic loss and $6,000,000 http://www.cmanet.org/news/detail/?article=cma-defends-
for noneconomic damages, also called "pain and suffering." californias-landmark-medical
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