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National Practitioner Data Bank (NPDB), an entity created by Congress and run by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services, has compiled a list of state rankings comparing the number of payouts for physician errors based on the state population. At number 20, Illinois falls right in the middle with 294 payouts, or 1 payment for every 43,741 people residing in our state.  At the top of the list is New York, with 8,875 payments for physician errors, or 1 for every 37,466 residents. The state with the fewest payments for physician error based on the number of residents was Wisconsin, with 1 payment for every 199,012 people.

Data Shows Others Relying on Faulty Evidence
The most striking fact to come from the data collected by NPDB is that the number of payments for physician errors has decreased as a whole every single year from 2001 to 2015 (2016 data is not yet available). This evidence stands in stark contrast to the claim made by top Republican lawmakers that tort reform (putting caps on damages awarded to those injured by physician error and other acts of negligence) is necessary to reducing healthcare costs for Americans. Tort reform advocates frequently argue that the number and dollar amount of medical malpractice payouts are increasing, forcing insurers to charge physicians and healthcare organizations more for their malpractice premiums. Tort reformers conclude that to cover these larger premiums, healthcare organizations must pass the cost onto the patient through higher costs for treatment. Thankfully, we now have even more hard evidence to support the belief that limiting the right to compensation by injured persons should not be based on the false idea that it will create rising healthcare costs.



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An article posted yesterday on Huffington Post examines how Republicans’ plan to repeal and replace parts of the Affordable Care Act (ACA) will force Americans to be treated as a diagnosis and not an individual with personal or legal rights. This past May, Tom Price, now Trump’s pick for Secretary of Health and Human Services, released the ‘Empowering Patients First Act,’ his alternative to healthcare reform known as the Affordable Care Act.

Price’s plan, known as the Empowering Patients First Act, would require doctors to administer medical treatment for symptoms based on a set of guidelines established by the Secretary of Health & Human Services in conjunction with a currently unidentified  ‘qualified physician census organization.’ According to Price, these clinical guidelines would be updated every two years and would be made available to the public. Should the Empowering Patients First Act pass, Americans would no longer be treated as an individual, but rather as a set of symptoms resulting in a one size fits all diagnosis.

Why Americans Should Worry

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A recent study conducted by Harvard University found that female doctors provide better quality care to elderly nursing home residents than their male counterparts. Specifically, those patients who were hospitalized and later discharged were less likely to die or have a repeat hospital visit.  The study estimates that there would be 32,000 fewer deaths annually if male doctors could ‘achieve the same outcomes as female physicians every year.’

Although women make up one half the patient population, only 1/3 of practicing physicians are women.

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In November, Americans for Insurance Reform (AIR), a coalition of nearly 100 consumer interest groups, released the results of two studies they conducted based on new insurance data. The studies reveal that contrary to Speaker Paul Ryan’s claims, states that allow caps on damages and other tort reform measures actually have higher doctor’s rates. These same studies also show that premiums and claims for doctors are at their lowest levels in 40 years.

Tort reform supporters frequently claim that medical malpractice insurance rate hikes are directly linked to increases in malpractice payouts. AIR found that rising rates were tied to the economy and the financial losses of the insurance industry, relating to their investments in the stock and bond markets. In years where the stock market was strong, insurance companies lowered premiums in an effort to attract customers and quickly invest the profit made from their premiums.

Based on these findings, AIR concludes that insurance companies are allowing tort reform supporters to believe that taking away the right to fair compensation for those injured by negligence will reduce insurance rates. According to AIR, ‘Lawmakers should focus instead on controlling the power and the abuses of the insurance industry.’

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Two of the major public health systems in Chicago have been identified as paying out over $80 million each in a 3 year time period for medical negligence claims. Between 2012 and September 2015, there were 41 cases settled by Cook County Health & Hospitals System (who operates John H. Stroger Hospital), adding up to more than $80.5 million.  During that same period, there were 33 cases settled by University of Illinois Hospital & Health Sciences Systems totaling $83.7 million.

Since 2012, medical negligence settlement totals have varied, without pointing to specific factors for an increase or decrease. The amount of multimillion dollar payouts has grown, in spite of a greater focus on reducing medical errors.

Lawmakers are putting increasing pressure on hospitals to cut down on the number of deaths caused by medical mistakes by cutting funding to facilities with avoidable infections, injuries and deaths.  U.S. officials believe these measures are making an impact and are hopeful that the number of errors will start showing a downward trend.

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Conservatives and top Republicans are suggesting that medical malpractice litigation is causing a crisis in the healthcare industry.  Research and experts in the area are saying that no such crisis exists.  A recent article in the Washington Post suggests that the healthcare industry is running smoothly and has been for more than a decade.  Top Republicans and conservatives are likely to launch an attack against our civil justice system in an attempt to limit the amount of damages that can be awarded by a jury in medical malpractice cases.  Levin & Perconti will continue to vigorously oppose such efforts.  If you or a loved one has been the victim of medical malpractice our attorneys may be able to help.  For a free consultation, click here.

Follow the link for the full Washington Post article.

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A couple filed a complaint against doctors, medical facilities, and a laboratory claiming that negligent care led to the woman’s injuries. The woman was eventually diagnosed with endometrial carcinoma, a very serious type of uterine cancer. However, her delayed diagnosis allegedly caused a delay in treatment, which allowed the disease to worsen. The lawsuit was filed in Cook County and is requesting damages of more than $50,000.

Failure to Diagnose

The failure to make a diagnosis or an error in diagnosis may be considered negligence on the part of the doctor or medical staff. Doctors are held to a high standard of care because they have specialized education, training and experience. Sometimes a missed diagnosis does not do any harm to the patient. However, sometimes it can cause additional injuries or can make the condition worsen. In this case, the woman’s cancer was not diagnosed or treated so it caused a serious decline in her health.

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When we go to the hospital or seek treatment from a doctor we expect that we will receive the attention and care that is necessary. Unfortunately, that is not always the case. The family of a man who died because of alleged medical negligence filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Vascular Specialists S.C. and a doctor. The lawsuit seeks a jury trial and damage in excess of $50,000.

Failure to Provide Proper Care

The family in this case state that the doctor did provide treatment quickly enough. This delay led to the man’s death. Had the man received prompt medical attention and treatment he may not have died. Delay of treatment is often considered a form of medical negligence or malpractice. The man was seeking treatment for vascular problems. Many times, vascular disease can be very serious and even life-threatening.

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When we visit a doctor for a medical problem we expect to be adequately diagnosed and treated. That is not always the case. A patient filed a lawsuit in Cook County against Eye Specialists of Chicago and Highland Park, and a doctor, alleging that improper diagnosis and care caused a serious and permanent injury. The lawsuit requests a jury trial and a judgment of more than the jurisdictional limits.

Failure to Assess Medical Condition

The patient in this case states that the doctor failed to properly assess his medical condition. The doctor did not diagnose the man’s eye infection, and therefore it went improperly treated. Misdiagnosis, or failure to diagnose, may be considered medical negligence, or malpractice. Doctors are required to provide a high level of care. After an examination, they are expected to properly diagnose a medical condition. In this instance, the doctor reportedly failed to diagnose the level of infection in the man’s eye.

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Surgical procedures usually go as they should. Sometimes, however, mistakes made before, during, or following an operation can cause harm to a patient. A patient filed a lawsuit against a doctor, hospital, and medical practice, alleging negligent medical treatment. The patient suffered a permanent disability related to the improper care of a tendon injury. The lawsuit requests damages of more than $50,000.

Improper Diagnosis of Lacerated Tendon

The man in this case was a patient of Vanguard MacNeal Hospital. The doctor did not properly diagnose his condition and therefore, adequate care was not rendered. A lacerated tendon is also known as a ruptured tendon. It may occur in the hand, foot, shoulder, and knees. Tendons are strong tissues that help areas of the body function properly. If a laceration occurs, the tendon will not work as it should, and the patient will suffer a great deal of discomfort upon movement. Prompt medical attention is necessary to prevent further damage.