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Detroit Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Government-run physician tracking database useless, in many cases

  • 27
  • July
    2015

A federal database designed to help Americans better track the performance of physicians contains so many accuracies that it cannot be considered reliable. The database, which is run by the federal Centers for Medicine for Medicare & Medicaid Services, is supposed to track physician performance by a 10-digit number assigned by the government, but in many cases, those numbers are wrong, making it impossible for patients to research a physician’s performance history.

In some cases, the inaccuracies may be due to typos when entering the information in the system. In other cases, though, the entire number is incorrect, suggesting more than a typo. Whatever the case may be, the inaccuracies in the database are unfortunate, because it is the only government-run database allowing consumers to look into a physician’s record when researching which provider they should see. 

Patients seek relief in cases against unethical Michigan doctor, P.2

  • 24
  • July
    2015

Last time, we spoke about the conviction of former hematologist and oncologist Farid Fata in Michigan for defrauding patients. As we noted, Fata is facing potential civil liability for his misdeeds, but plaintiffs do face challenges in seeking relief from the disgraced doctor.

For one thing, the medical field is not as transparent as it should be when it comes to disclosing problem physicians. Here in Michigan, for example, entities which conduct reviews of a medical care are not allowed to disclose to the public the identity of those involved in the investigation. This makes it harder for plaintiffs to identity negligence by individual physicians. 

Patients seek relief in cases against unethical Michigan doctor, P.1

  • 16
  • July
    2015

When we talk about medical malpractice on this blog and in general, we are very often speaking about decent doctors who, for one reason or another, had a lapse of judgment and made a mistake that ended up harming a patient. In some medical malpractice cases, a doctor may have a history of violations due to lack of skill or carelessness, but generally mean well toward his patients.

Then there are those cases where the doctor is just a bad egg. That would be the case with Dr. Farid Fata, former hematologist and oncologist who was sentenced to 45 years of imprisonment earlier this month for health care fraud. Farid was convicted last fall after pleading guilty or no contest to a total of 23 counts of health care fraud, conspiracy to pay and receive kickbacks, and money laundering. 

Study: preventable surgical errors are rare, but causes remain unclear

  • 09
  • July
    2015

Although we live in a country that offers some of the best health care services in the world, many of us don’t think too much about the possibility that we could be injured by our doctors. Mistakes in medical care do happen, though. In some cases, mistakes are just part of the risk of a course of care. In surgery, for instance, there is the possibility that a patient will have a bad reaction to anesthesia, or that he or she could develop an infection, despite proper care from providers.

 Aside from these sorts of mistakes—which are probably better called risks—there are also mistakes that are preventable. Here we are referring to mistakes which do not occur unless a doctor is failing in their duty as a physician. When it comes to surgery, serious errors are rare, but they can still occur.

Transparency in health care and patient compensation

  • 02
  • July
    2015

A recent article on the blog Health Affairs made an important point about the current situation with the health care system when it comes to dealing with medical errors: transparency can significantly improve the outcome of cases in which medical errors occur, even when those errors result in death, but transparency is not the norm, unfortunately.

Transparency in health care, according to advocates, has multiple benefits. These include: increased accountability from physicians and health care providers; motivating providers to improve patient safety in their delivery of care; encouraging trust between providers and patients; and helping patients to make better decisions about the health care providers they with whom they choose to work. These are all obviously good things that could really help improve the functioning of the health care system. 

Limitation on birth injury claims lifted by Court of Appeals

  • 26
  • June
    2015

Birth injuries are devastating for parents, as anybody who has been through such an experience can tell you. The frustration can be particularly great in cases where birth injury is caused by medical malpractice. For those who have a strong enough case, there may be the ability to sue for medical malpractice and obtain damages to help ease the financial burden that can follow a birth injury. Victims of medical malpractice leading to birth injury do not always have the ability or opportunity to sue, though.

For example, up until recently, Michigan did not allow medical malpractice lawsuits for injuries that occurred during a pregnancy that had not yet reached 24 weeks, the age of viability. That rule was recently changed when the Michigan Court of Appeals ruled in favor of a woman whose baby was born at 18 weeks because of her doctor’s alleged medical malpractice. 

Patient engagement doesn’t negate physicians’ responsibility

  • 16
  • June
    2015

Increasingly, health systems across the United States are moving toward an approach which aims to increase patients’ involvement in their own care. The idea is that patients who take ownership of their treatment through deeper engagement can help improve their own quality of care and achieve better outcomes.

One program that is allowing patients to do this is Open Notes, a program aimed at encouraging providers to allow patients to have access to doctors’ office notes. The impetus behind the initiative is partly the fact that, under federal law, more Medicare money is available to hospitals and doctors who get better outcomes for patients. It’s also partly about avoiding potential errors. 

Veterans and medical malpractice liability under the FTCA

  • 08
  • June
    2015

Last time, we began looking at birth injury case recently appealed up to the U.S. Supreme Court, and the Feres doctrine which is at stake in the case. As we noted, the Feres doctrine holds that active-duty military members are not able to sue the government for tort relief, as in cases of medical malpractice. What is at stake in the Supreme Court appeal, though, is whether tort relief is available to cover damages for a child who sustains a birth injury.                                    

What is really at stake in the case is whether active military members are able to receive compensation when a government doctor acts negligently in delivering care. For non-active veterans, the Feres doctrine is inapplicable, and litigation under the Federal Tort Claims Act is a possibility. 

Active duty mother appeals for damages from government for birth injury

  • 01
  • June
    2015

All of us depend on medical care at some point, and all of us expect that our providers will exercise an appropriate degree of care in treating us. When providers fail to do this, we know that we have the ability to seek compensation for our injuries, even if we ultimately choose not to do so for one reason or another.

Veterans also have these expectations, but pursuing damages for medical injuries is a little different for vets than it is for civilians. This is especially the case when it comes to active-duty veterans, who are generally unable to pursue the federal government for any damages related to medical injuries. This rule, which comes from a case decided in 1950, is known as the Feres doctrine.

When doctors fail to recommend cancer screening

  • 27
  • May
    2015

We’ve been talking about cancer screening in our last couple posts—the risks, the benefits, and the potential for doctors to make the mistake of failing to recommend cancer screening. The latter issue is an important one, of course, because doctors have a huge responsibility in ensuring that their patients receive a timely diagnosis and proper treatment.

Interestingly, a recent study out of California demonstrates that certain populations may be more at risk when it comes to certain types of cancer, not because of genetic propensities, but because of the health care they have available. According to the study, racial minorities are more likely to go without colon cancer screening than Caucasians because their providers are more likely not to recommend that they receive screening. This, of course, means that racial minorities could be more at risk of developing colon cancer. 

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