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Detroit Medical Malpractice Law Blog

Cerebral palsy and the issue of causation

  • 04
  • March

According to a recent study published in an online journal by the name of Molecular Psychiatry, a small but significant percentage of cases of cerebral palsy may stem from genetic mutations rather than mishaps during birth. The study specifically found that out of 183 cases of cerebral palsy, one in seven individuals had a gene variant which could have caused the condition.

The bottom line of the study is that at least some cases of cerebral palsy may be rooted in genetics rather than other factors, and this finding confirms previous research showing that there is a significantly greater risk of cerebral palsy for those who have a relative with a developmental disability. 

What legal remedies are available for medical neglect in prison?

  • 23
  • February

In our last post, we began speaking about the issue of medical care in prison and fact that prisoners do have the right to adequate medical care. Here, we want to take a brief look at the legal remedies that are available to prisoners who have been denied such care.

At the state level, prisoners may be able to enforce their constitutional rights by filing an action under 42 U.S.C. § 1983. One of the advantages of suing under this statute is that a plaintiff is able to avoid any state limitations on medical malpractice caps. Here in Michigan, noneconomic damages are capped in medical malpractice cases, but pursuing a section 1983 action would allow a plaintiff to avoid the cap. Other advantages include the availability of attorney’s fees and a potentially longer statute of limitations.

Inmates and the right to adequate medical care

  • 18
  • February

Medical care is obviously a critical resource which all of us rely on throughout our lives, for ourselves and for our family members, so much so that basic medical care could arguably be considered a human right. In any case, basic medical care is at least a constitutional right guaranteed by the Eighth Amendment. This right is applicable whether or not the medical care is provided directly by employees of the government or by medical staff contracting with the government.

From the perspective of constitutional law, medical neglect of a prisoner must meet a certain threshold before it can be considered a constitutional violation. According to the American Civil Liberties Union, prison officials must specifically display “deliberate indifference” to a prisoner’s “serious medical needs.” 

Determining best way to respond to medical negligence not always easy

  • 09
  • February

In our previous post, we continued our discussion on the University of Michigan Health System’s approach to patient safety and handling of medical error. As we noted last time, this approach is characterized, among other things, by efforts to increase communication between physicians and patients when errors occur and by a commitment to resolving disputes out of court where possible.

It is worth pointing out that many people injured by health care professionals do not have the benefit of prompt and clear communication of those errors. In many cases, patients only learn the truth about medical errors after they have already become so frustrated about the situation that they are convinced of the need to litigate. Patients, of course, can and should be proactive in communicating their concerns and needs to their physician, but the brunt of the responsibility with communicating errors falls on the physician. 

What can medical malpractice plaintiffs learn from the Michigan Model? P.2

  • 02
  • February

In our previous post, we began discussing the so-called Michigan Model, or the approach to patient safety and physician accountability that has been in place at the University of Michigan Health System since 2001. The Michigan Model has gained attention because of the improvements it has made in terms of reducing the medical malpractice claims, plaintiff payouts, malpractice costs, and resolution time.

The success of the program, to be sure, is attributable to multiple factors, including the fact that Michigan state law requires a six-month cooling off period before malpractice litigation may proceed, which allows greater opportunity for out-of-court resolution of claims. Another factor is that all physicians in the health system are insured against malpractice claims by the system itself, which allows for greater control over the cost of malpractice insurance. 

What can medical malpractice plaintiffs learn from the Michigan Model?

  • 28
  • January

Medical malpractice, as Michigan readers know, plays an important role in helping injured patients and the survivors of deceased patients recover damages from losses stemming from provider negligence. The ability to pursue litigation is something patients should have greater awareness of and appreciation for, since litigation offers the opportunity to hold a potentially dangerous physician accountable.

That having been said, medical malpractice litigation is not always the most effective way resolve disputes between providers and their patients. Medical malpractice litigation is often costly and time-consuming, and because of this many injured patients who have strong claims end up not pursuing litigation.

Study looks at medication errors among the young

  • 23
  • January

Medication errors are not an uncommon occurrence in the health care world. Those who are most at risk for these errors, not surprisingly, are the young and the elderly.

According to a recent study published in the journal Pediatrics, an average of 63,358 medication errors take place for children less than six years of age every year. Of those errors, around one-quarter occur in children less than 12 months of age. The study also noted that there are over 200,000 medication errors reported to U.S. poison control centers every year, and almost one-third of these are for children less than 6 years old. 

Court decision challenges long-established medical malpractice exemption

  • 13
  • January

A recent ruling by a federal appeals court has put cruise lines on notice that they could be held fully responsible for medical malpractice if their medical staff fails to take proper care of their guests. Significantly, in coming to the decision, the appeals court reversed over 100 years of law which provided exemptions for cruise lines from being held accountable for medical malpractice committed by on-board healthcare providers.

The ruling was based on a medical malpractice case involving a man who died of a brain injury on the Royal Caribbean’s Explorer of the Seas back in 2001. The man had fallen and hit his head not long after the ship disembarked. After the fall, he was examined by a nurse from the ship’s medical unit, but was only advised to rest. Eventually, he was examined more closely by a doctor and transferred to a hospital in Bermuda, but not until it was too late. After the man’s death, a medical malpractice lawsuit was filed against the cruise line for its failure to detect and address the injury in a timely manner. 

Reduction in preventable errors tied to insurance trend

  • 06
  • January

According to a recent report by the Department of Health and Human Services, there has been a decrease in preventable medical errors in recent years, to the tune of 17 percent. Because of this, the report noted, fewer patients have died and there has been savings in the cost of health care. This data concerns the period from 2010 to 2013.

The report looked specifically at what are commonly called “hospital-acquired” conditions, which includes things like urinary tract infections, pressures ulcers and surgical-site infections—all very typical in health care institutions. These types of medical errors are generally considered avoidable, and it is speculated that a significant reason for the decrease in recent years is the growing trend of Medicare and private insurance companies holding back payments in cases where there are errors in medical care. 

Weighing your probable damages award against the costs of litigation

  • 30
  • December

In our last couple posts, we’ve been speaking about the elements of medical malpractice claims, focusing particularly on the harm element, which can be said to tie together the other elements, at least in claims which have merit. The same could also, though, be said of damages, which are intimately connected to the harm element.

We left off discussing how, in addition to the merits of a medical malpractice case, the probable damages award in a case should be carefully considered. Medical malpractice litigation is not cheap, and injured patients need to have an honest conversation with their attorney about the costs and benefits of pursuing a case.

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