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					         Michigan Bar Journal      February 2009


 44 Libraries and Legal Research




Medical Malpractice Internet Resources
By TeLisa T. Owens




    I
             n Michigan, few areas of law        •	 Advice about errors to avoid when han-       or the ICLE website, http://www.icle.org.
             are as research intensive as           dling medical malpractice cases              In addition, practitioners can receive case-
             medical malpractice. The med-       •	 Tips to ease using medical experts           law summaries specific to malpractice law
             ical malpractice practitioner                                                       by subscribing to the State Bar e-Journal at
must research the appropriate standard of        •	 A checklist for the direct examination of    http://w w w.michbar.org/publications/
care, medical procedures, conditions and            medical experts                              signup.cfm. If a legislative reporting service
treatments, doctor certifications and special-   •	 Formulas for compensating the medical        is not practical, practitioners can quickly
ties, expert witness credentials, and dam-          malpractice expert                           find proposed legislation affecting malprac-
ages, among other things. This article aims      •	 Tips for preparing the plaintiff’s medical   tice law by visiting the State Bar Public Pol-
to provide helpful online resources to mal-         expert witness for trial                     icy Resource Center at http://www.michbar.
practice practitioners.1                                                                         org/publicpolicy/. There, practitioners can
                                                 •	 Tips for determining the injured plain-      click the “shortcut to key legislation” and
                                                    tiff’s economic and financial losses
Malpractice Law Primers                                                                          scroll to a specific practice area, e.g., mal-
                                                                                                 practice. The Public Policy Resource Center
    A number of medical malpractice practi-                                                      also displays Michigan Supreme Court pro-
tioners post information for the benefit of
the legal community. For example, a general
                                                    A number of                                  posed court rule amendments and admin-
                                                                                                 istrative orders.
summary of malpractice litigation in Michi-         medical malpractice
gan can be found at http://www.mcandl.
com/michigan.html. Mcandl.com provides
                                                    practitioners post                           Medical Information
a basic overview of the statutes of limita-         information for                                  Practitioners can find a digital library
tions, statutory cap on attorneys’ fees, con-
tributory or comparative negligence, joint
                                                    the benefit of the                           of anatomy information at http://www.
                                                                                                 anatomyatlases.org/. Anatomical informa-
and several liability, collateral source rule,      legal community.                             tion can also be found at http://www.
contribution, pre-judgment interest, vicari-                                                     bartleby.com/107/. Bartleby offers an on-
ous liability, expert testimony, immunities,                                                     line edition of Henry Gray’s Anatomy of the
damage caps, and arbitration. Another po-                                                        Human Body and features 1,247 illustra-
tentially beneficial resource is The ’Lectric    Statutes, Caselaw, Court Rules,                 tions from the classic 1918 publication, as
Law Library Lawcopedia’s Law & Medicine          and Pending Legislation                         well as a subject index with 13,000 entries
web page at http://www.lectlaw.com/tmed.             Statutory material may be found at the      ranging from the Antrum of Highmore to
html. Of interest to practitioners may be        Michigan legislature website at http://www.     the Zonule of Zinn.
the “Practical Litigation Info” designed ex-     legislature.mi.gov. Caselaw can be found            The publishers of the Physicians’ Desk-
clusively for attorneys, which includes:         at a variety of websites. Michigan Supreme      top Reference host a website at http://www.
                                                 Court and Michigan Court of Appeals opin-       pdrhealth.com/home/home.aspx. This web-
•	 Tips to help determine whether the case
                                                 ions are located at http://coa.courts.mi.gov/   site provides information on prescription
   under review is a strong malpractice case
                                                 resources/opinions.htm. The State Bar of        drugs, diseases and conditions, therapies
•	 Examples of strong malpractice cases          Michigan and the Institute of Continuing        in clinical research, ongoing clinical trials,
•	 Tips for evaluating the medical malprac-      Legal Education (ICLE) provide to State Bar     and clinical trial results. The National Li-
   tice client                                   members a free research service, Michigan       brary of Medicine, which promotes itself as
                                                 Law Online, which includes Michigan Su-         the “World’s Largest Medical Library,” can be
•	 Tips for choosing proper medical mal-
                                                 preme Court and Court of Appeals opinions       accessed at http://www.nlm.nih.gov/. Phar-
   practice defendants
                                                 from 1942. On issuance of a password,2 the      macy drug information can also be found
•	 Tips for handling the initial malpractice     service may be accessed from either the         at http://www.rxlist.com/script/main/hp.asp.
   case review by medical experts                State Bar website, http://www.michbar.org,      MediLexicon at http://www.medilexicon.com/
                                                                                              February 2009           Michigan Bar Journal


                                                                                  Libraries and Legal Research 45

contains searches, information, news, and        is an article entitled “Medical Records Help     specialty boards. Many individual associa-
resources for the medical community and          Attorneys Uncover Crucial Case Details.”         tions, such as the American Osteopathic
provides free access to several directories or   The article is written by a nurse and out-       Association, also provide certification in-
sources of information, including (1) hourly     lines the specific requirements of a hospital    formation. See http://www.osteopathic.org/
reports of breaking health news and medi-        patient’s medical chart. The article can be      index.cfm?PageID=findado_main. Health-
cal news stories; (2) definitions of ICD9/       found at http://www.techmedexperts.com/          grades provides free hospital ratings and,
ICD9CM codes used to code and classify           pdf/Medical_records.pdf.                         for a small fee, practitioners can obtain a
mortality data from death certificates, mor-         The World News Network offers a chan-        detailed background physician report at
bidity data from inpatient and outpatient        nel targeted to health concerns, drug phar-      http://www.healthgrades.com/.
records, physician offices, and most National    maceuticals, and medical malpractice at
Center for Health Statistics surveys; and        http://www.quacks.com/. The U.S. Depart-         Conclusion
(3) definitions of over 3,500 medical and        ment of Health & Human Services pro-
surgical devices and instruments.                vides clinical information and information          As more attorneys, institutions, and ven-
    The United States Pharmacopeia (USP) is      on health conditions and diseases at http://     dors disseminate information online, practi-
an official public standards-setting author-     www.ahrq.gov/.                                   tioners should incorporate online resources
ity for all prescription and over-the-counter        In addition, the Department of Health &      into their research strategy. These sources
medicines and other health care products         Human Services offers the National Guideline     should provide useful information that sup-
manufactured or sold in the United States.       Clearinghouse (NGC) at http://www.guideline.     plements, at less expense, information ob-
USP’s website is at http://www.usp.org/.         gov/about/about.aspx. NGC is a compre-           tained from traditional research sources. n
From an international perspective, world-        hensive searchable database of evidence-
wide standards for patient safety have been      based clinical practice guidelines and re-
compiled by the World Health Organiza-           lated documents. The NGC is an initiative                                 TeLisa T. Owens is an
tion (WHO) Collaborating Centre for Pa-          of the Agency for Healthcare Research and                                 appellate attorney with
tient Safety Solutions. In 2007, the WHO         Quality (AHRQ), U.S. Department of Health                                 Sommers Schwartz, P.C.
Collaborating Center for Patient Safety Solu-    & Human Services, and was originally cre-                                 in Southfield. Ms. Owens
tions studied and disseminated nine patient      ated by AHRQ in partnership with the Amer-                                focuses her practice on
safety solutions at http://www.ccforpatient      ican Medical Association and the American                                 employment, commercial,
safety.org/30723/. The nine standards are        Association of Health Plans.                                              and insurance litigation.
downloadable in PDF format and include                                                                                     Previously, she worked at
findings on (1) “Look-Alike, Sound-Alike”                                                         the Michigan Court of Appeals as judicial law clerk
                                                 Doctor History and Certifications                to the Honorable Kurtis T. Wilder and as a research
medication names; (2) misidentification of
patients; (3) poor communication during             Several states, such as California, Mas-      attorney in the Court’s prehearing division. She is
patient hand-overs; (4) cases of wrong pro-      sachusetts, Florida, and Idaho, now require      a member of the State Bar Committee on Librar-
cedure or wrong site surgery; (5) medi-          hospitals to post medical malpractice and        ies, Legal Research, and Legal Publications.
cation errors; and (6) catheter and tubing       hospital disciplinary action information on
misconnections.                                  their websites. Michigan provides license        FOOTNOTES
                                                 verification information at http://www.           1. Cited websites were last visited January 11, 2009.
                                                                                                   2. To receive a password, contact ICLE by phone at
News, Journals, and Newsletters                  michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-132-27417_
                                                                                                      (877) 229-4350 or by e-mail at icle@umich.edu.
                                                 27529---,00.html. Practitioners can obtain a
    Many of the websites cited previously        copy of administrative documents pertain-
offer the opportunity to subscribe to news-      ing to a specific health professional or ob-
letters. In addition, access to trade journals   tain copies of disciplinary action reports at
and articles is available from the Michigan      http://www.michigan.gov/mdch/0,1607,7-
eLibrary, or “MEL.” MEL is located at http://    132-27417_27529-43008--,00.html.
mel.org/index.jsp. Medscape, at http://www.         The American Medical Association’s
medscape.com, provides a searchable data-        On-Line Doctor Finder at http://webapps.
base of online clinical publications.            ama-assn.org/doctorfinder/home.html
    Often, vendors seeking to work with at-      contains physician profiling information
torneys will send online newsletters spe-        such as a physician’s medical school, train-
cific to an area of law. For example, an ex-     ing, and specialty. The American Board
pert retention service sends free medical        of Medical Specialties’ website at http://
newsletters with articles often written by       www.abms.org/ allows practitioners to de-
doctors and nurses. One article that may be      termine whether a specific physician has
of interest to medical malpractice attorneys     been certified as a specialist by one of their

				
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