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					     ReSource ReCaps                                                                                Wednesday November 16, 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.


City Paid Out $135 Million in Medical Malpractice
Lawsuits at its Public Hospitals                                                             Inside this issue:
NYDailyNews.com, New York, New York              The 38-year-old woman, who did not          (NY) City Paid Out $135 Million in Medi- 1
November 14, 2011                                want her name used, was seen by a den-      cal Malpractice Lawsuits at its Public
                                                                                             Hospitals
                                                 tist who drained the abscess and sent
The city doled out $135 million this year
                                                 her home, court records show.               Surgeons Pay Steep Emotional Price in    2
for medical blunders at its public hospi-                                                    Malpractice Suits
tals — up 5% from 2010, records show.            He failed to request a culture of the in-
                                                                                             (TX) Texas Family Awarded $2.2 Million 2
                                                 fected tissue, a test that would have       Against Houston Northwest Medical
For many patients, the screw-ups were                                                        Center for Wrongful Death
                                                 helped him realize she was suffering
catastrophic, and it’s city taxpayers who
                                                 from a dangerous but increasingly com-      Physicians Struggle to Treat Pain Amid   2
are footing the bill.                                                                        Opioid Overdose Crisis
                                                 mon infection called MRSA, Rosmarin
   A Brooklyn man suffered a debilitat-        said.                                       Court Battle Insurer Over Down’s Child   3

     ing stroke while waiting hours at                                                       Avoiding Medical Malpractice in Cos-     3
                                                 About 10 days later, she raced back to
     Kings County Hospital to see a doc-                                                     metic Surgery
                                                 the hospital in extreme pain.
     tor.                                                                                    (NY) More NY Courts to Focus on Medi- 3
                                                 It was too late.                            cal Malpractice
   A 10-year-old girl was pumped with a                                                    (FL) Supreme Court Lets Stand $10.3      4
     fatal dose of oxygen after an asthma        The infection had spread to her neck and    Million Award in Palm Beach County
                                                 spine. She was left paralyzed from the      Medical Malpractice Case
     attack.
                                                 neck down, Rosmarin said.
   A Bronx woman was awarded $8
     million — topping the list of the fiscal    She was awarded $8 million just before
     year’s malpractice payouts — after          the case was set to go to trial.
     she went to Lincoln Hospital for treat-     It was one of 246 cases completed in
     ment of a cheek infection and wound         fiscal year 2011, resulting in payouts of
     up paralyzed.                               $135 million, up from $128 million in
“Life for her is a daily battle,” said her       2010, records show.
lawyer, Sam Rosmarin.                            It took some families more than a…
“The tragedy here is that this could have        http://www.nydailynews.com/new-york/
been avoided. Her complete dependence            city-paid-135-million-medical-malpractice
on others as a result of someone’s negli-        -lawsuits-public-hospitals-article-
                                                 1.977072
gence is a horribly unfair existence.”
Page 2                                                                                                             ReSource ReCaps

Surgeons Pay Steep Emotional Price in                             1:30 p.m., Mr. Mazza was sent to an interventional radiolo-
Malpractice Suits                                                 gist who performed the thoracentesis. Just over one liter of
                                                                  old blood was removed. Mr. Mazza returned to the telemetry
Outpatient Surgery, Malvern, PA                                   unit at around 2:30 p.m., but was still not being provided ICU
November 16, 2011                                                 care.

The considerable financial costs of malpractice lawsuits - the    From 2:30 p.m. until approximately 4 p.m., Mr. Mazza re-
expensive, lengthy litigation and higher insurance premiums       mained under the care of a nurse who was not qualified to
- are a constant concern for every surgical center. A new         provide ICU care. The nurse failed to recognize the signs or
study finds the surgeons involved in such suits pay a steep       symptoms of internal bleeding, which had begun shortly af-
emotional price as well, in the form of depression, emotional     ter the thoracentesis. Just after 4 p.m., Mr. Mazza was fi-
exhaustion, increased stress and lower professional satis-        nally transferred to ICU where he quickly went into cardiac
faction.                                                          arrest after bleeding internally for some two hours. He was
                                                                  revived, but was without brain activity after a lack of oxygen
The study, conducted by researchers at the University of          for nearly 15 minutes. Mr. Mazza's family made the difficult
Texas Southwestern Medical Center in Dallas, examined
                                                                  decision to withdraw life support five days later.
personal and professional characteristics in surgeons, and
found malpractice lawsuits were strongly and independently        http://www.24-7pressrelease.com/press-release/texas-family
linked to surgeon depression and career burnout.                  -awarded-22-million-against-houston-northwest-medical-
                                                                  center-for-wrongful-death-246549.php
Of the 7,164 participating surgeons, 24.6% experienced a
malpractice action in the 24 months before the survey. The
stress caused by malpractice litigation was rated as equiva-      Physicians Struggle to Treat Pain Amid
lent to that of financial worries, pressure to succeed in re-     Opioid Overdose Crisis
search, work/home conflicts and coping with patients' suffer-
                                                                  American Medical News, Chicago, IL
ing and death. Surgeons who experienced a recent malprac-
                                                                  November 14, 2011
tice lawsuit also reported less career satisfaction, and were
less likely to recommend a surgical or medical career to their    The patients Richard Blondell, MD, treated in detox 10 years
children or others.                                               ago mostly were middle-aged heroin addicts with arms
http://www.outpatientsurgery.net/news/2011/11/21-Surgeons         scarred by needle tracks. Today he sees patients in their
-Pay-Steep-Emotional-Price-in-Malpractice-Suits                   early 20s who are hooked on something they can get legally:
                                                                  opioid pain medications.

Texas Family Awarded $2.2 Million                                 "I don't see those hard-core drug addicts" much anymore,
Against Houston Northwest Medical                                 said Dr. Blondell, a family physician in Buffalo, N.Y., who
Center for Wrongful Death                                         specializes in addiction medicine. "It's all prescription pain
                                                                  drugs."
24-7 Press Release, North Vancouver, BC
                                                                  Addiction to pain medicine is occurring at alarming rates in
November 14, 2011
                                                                  communities across the country, and overdose deaths have
The family of 54-year-old Phillip Mazza prevailed in a wrong-     more than tripled in a decade, according to a study by the
ful death medical malpractice lawsuit against Houston North-      Centers for Disease Control and Prevention.
west Medical Center on November 8, 2011, after a Harris           In 2008, opioid prescription painkillers were involved in
County jury found the hospital negligent for not properly car-    14,800 drug overdose deaths in the United States, accord-
ing for Mr. Mazza following heart surgery in 2006.                ing to a CDC study published in the Nov. 4 Morbidity and
In September of 2006, Mr. Mazza underwent cardiac bypass          Mortality Weekly Report. That was up from 4,000 such
surgery. Three days later, a pulmonologist assessed Mr.           deaths in 1999.
Mazza at noon and determined he needed a thoracentesis            The increase comes as national sales of opioid pain...
for internal bleeding and a transfer to the Intensive Care Unit
                                                                  http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2011/11/14/
(ICU). No ICU beds were available at the time, which left Mr.
                                                                  prl21114.htm
Mazza under the care of a telemetry nurse. At approximately
Page 3                                                                                                           ReSource ReCaps

Couple Battle Insurer Over Down’s                                 trous results. A USA Today report indicates that more doc-
Child                                                             tors trained in other specialties, such as vision, podiatry or
                                                                  obstetrics, are turning to cosmetic surgery to take advantage
Times Live, Rosebank, Johannesburg                                of lucrative opportunities. However, many have little training
November 13, 2011                                                 in plastic surgery, with some operating on patients only after
                                                                  one weekend shadowing other doctors. As such, stories
A South African couple now living in Australia is suing the       abound involving doctors with little training committing surgi-
company over its refusal to honour a medical malpractice
                                                                  cal errors, botching procedures, and sometimes killing pa-
policy of a gynaecologist who failed to pick up that their baby
                                                                  tients.
had Down's syndrome.
                                                                  With more cosmetic surgery centers appearing in strip malls
After winning their initial case for damages against Dr           and offering low prices, it is important for consumers to be
Lourens Kriel, Tammy Souster, 33, and her husband, Mi-            educated about the physicians who will treat them, as well
chael Savage, have now gone to the High Court in Johan-           as the risks involved in their procedure.
nesburg to fight Santam for damages that could amount to
R20-million.                                                      http://www.digitaljournal.com/pr/488219

Last year Judge Phillip Coppin found Kriel liable for dam-
ages and concluded that his negligence had occurred while         More NY Courts to Focus on Medical
he had insurance cover.                                           Malpractice
Kriel had failed to inform Souster that it was advisable to
                                                                  The Wall Street Journal, New York, NY
undergo an amniocentesis test at the 16th week of her preg-       November 11, 2011
nancy in 2007 to test for chromosomal abnormalities.

The gynaecologist, who paid an annual premium of R49656           New York courts specializing in the state's 4,000 medical
for medical malpractice cover, was shocked when Santam            malpractice cases filed each year have begun expanding
withdrew its support in the court case two weeks before the       following the success of a Bronx judge in settling cases
trial.                                                            early.

Santam said his negligent actions took place weeks before         The approach, shown to cut court backlogs and save
the policy became active. Its contention is that on July 17       money, has been extended to Brooklyn, Queens and Man-
2007, two weeks before the policy took effect, Kriel used an      hattan, with some Erie County judges getting trained.
ultrasound machine that may not have accurately measured          "It was proving to be a cost savings to hospitals and directly
the nuchal translucency of Souster's foetus.                      impacting the indemnity insurance of doctors," New York
http://www.timeslive.co.za/local/2011/11/13/couple-battle-        Chief Administrative Judge Ann Pfau said.
insurer-over-down-s-child                                         Starting Dec. 1, Pfau will become coordinating judge of the
                                                                  court system's medical malpractice segment. The pilot pro-
                                                                  gram is using a $3 million federal grant to train more judges
Avoiding Medical Malpractice in Cos-
                                                                  in medical issues. Pfau herself will take cases in Brooklyn,
metic Surgery
                                                                  where she is an acting state Supreme Court justice in the
Digital Journal.com, Toronto, Ontario                             commercial division. She said it would be good to make the
November 12, 2011                                                 program citywide and makes sense to extend it to Long Is-
                                                                  land.
Many Americans are enticed by the potential benefits of
                                                                  Bronx Justice Douglas McKeon, who began focusing on
plastic surgery. Why wouldn't they be? After all, people are
                                                                  malpractice cases 15 years ago, said he has helped settle
inundated with images of celebrities maintaining good looks
                                                                  more than 1,000 since, with 12 to 15 cases now on the cal-
and taut bodies by having procedures that seem simple
                                                                  endar monthly for intense discussions. Once the city's
enough.
                                                                  Health and Hospitals Corp., which runs 11 public…
With more people seeking cosmetic procedures, more un-
                                                                  http://online.wsj.com/article/
trained physicians are entering the market, often with disas-
                                                                  AP44fbce6660ca4b3584ea5d0b2f19695a.html
Supreme Court Lets Stand $10.3 Million Award in Palm Beach
County Medical Malpractice Case
The Palm Beach Post, West Palm Beach, FL                                        when it once again struck down the legislature's decision to
November 9, 2011                                                                make a law apply retroactively.
Since her husband's heart was irrevocably damaged in                            One of the main issues in Raphael's case was whether the
2003 when he wasn't given critical medicine at Palms West                       caps on damages awarded for pain and suffering applied to
Hospital, former Wellington resident Nadine Raphael has                         Harvey Raphael's death by medical mistake. Attorneys rep-
been waiting for justice.                                                       resenting emergency room physician Dr. James Schecter
She got it this week when the Florida Supreme Court let                         argued they did because the lawsuit was filed two years
stand a $10.3 million verdict despite arguments that it                         after the Legislature in 2003 imposed the caps, claiming
should be reduced to less than $1 million because of caps                       they would rein in skyrocketing medical malpractice insur-
the Florida Legislature placed on jury awards in medical                        ance rates.
malpractice cases.                                                              Malove countered that the key wasn't when the lawsuit was
"She's ecstatic," attorney Stephen Malove said of Raph-                         filed but when Harvey Raphael was injured. Schecter failed
ael's reaction to the long-awaited decision.                                    to give him the anti-clotting drug Retavase to reduce the...

The high court didn't specifically rule on Raphael's case.                      http://www.palmbeachpost.com/news/supreme-court-lets-
Instead, it referred to an unrelated decision it made in July                   stand-10-3-million-award-1959529.html

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