Archive for the ‘General’ Category

The Doctors Company Releases Results of a Study on Malpractice Claims among Cardiologists

cardiologists and claims studyThe Doctors Company, one of the largest medical professional liability insurance providers in the country, has recently released the results of a major study they’ve done analyzing malpractice claims brought against cardiologists. The authors of the study looked at 429 closed claims brought against cardiologists from 2007-2013 and analyzed both the types of claims brought against these doctors and the causes of the injuries alleged in the claims.

Types of Claims Made

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Clinical Decision Support Systems and Malpractice Risk

clinical decision support systemsDefinition

Clinical Decision Support Systems (CDSSs) comprise one of the fastest growing and most widely discussed areas of Health Information Technology (HIT) in existence today. CDSSs have been defined as “Active knowledge systems which use two or more items of patient data to generate case specific advice,” (Wyatt J, Spiegelhalter D, 1991); or there’s this from Robert Hayward of the Center for Health Evidence, “Clinical Decision Support Systems link health observations with health knowledge to influence health choices by clinicians for improved health care.”

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White Coat Rally for Tort Reform in Missouri

Tort Reform in MissouriAs we have noted before, caps on non-economic damages in medical malpractice cases have been challenged in many states and on many fronts over the last few years.  Most recently Californians rejected a proposal (Proposition 46) not to ban the state’s cap, but to increase it dramatically.  However, in other states the caps have been done away with altogether through judicial ruling.  Many state Supreme Courts have overturned damage caps on grounds that range from undue interference with jury trials to procedural objections regarding the manner in which the legislation was written or approved.

In July of 2012 the Missouri State Supreme Court ruled that limits on awards for non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits are unconstitutional.  Prior to that ruling Missouri had a cap in place of $350,000, which had been signed into law by the Missouri legislature and, then Governor, Matt Blunt in 2005.  Experts believe that this cap, along with other malpractice reforms, helped to stabilize the medical professional liability insurance market in Missouri. Additionally, these reforms led a number of companies to move into Missouri who had previously been unwilling to sell policies to physicians and healthcare workers in that state. Lawmakers and physicians now fear that the removal of this cap will lead to astronomical jury awards that will, in turn, bring about increased healthcare costs and an overall decrease in access to care.

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Podiatrists Unite!

Podiatry medical malpractice insurance speciallistsFrom time to time, we at eQuoteMD like to choose a particular specialty to address. Today we’re talking to podiatrists, and we have one primary message: consider a specialized provider like the Podiatry Insurance Company of America (PICA).

Podiatry is a unique specialty with unique risk management challenges best addressed by a medical professional liability insurance provider dedicated to that specialty. Podiatry is a relatively high-risk specialty because of both what it involves and whom it involves. Our feet are extremely important to our quality of life and they are also very complex, and in some ways fragile parts of our bodies. While the vast majority of the time podiatrists are able to offer quality care that improves people’s mobility and enjoyment of life, the fact is that there are going to be occasional instances of malpractice, but also there are going to be cases brought against doctors by people who have experienced adverse circumstances, whether their doctor was truly at fault or not. And, because our feet are so fundamental to mobility and quality of life, these patients are going to be seeking significant compensation in the suits they file.

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$200 Million Dollar Settlement along with Reforms in Pennsylvania Malpractice Fight, but State will Keep What it Took

Pennsylvania Malpractice SettlementLast month Governor Tom Corbett’s office announced a settlement to a years long dispute between groups representing doctors and hospitals and the Pennsylvania state government.  In 2008 the Pennsylvania legislature, under then governor Ed Rendell, appropriated $100M from the state’s Medical Care Availability and Reduction of Error (Mcare) fund to the general fund to balance the state budget.  This in turn led to litigation, which challenged not just the action of the state in this one instance, but the nature of the formula used to calculate the assessments that doctors in the state are required to pay into the fund.

Pennsylvania, like several states, has a fund that doctors pay into which covers medical malpractice liability beyond a certain threshold.  Doctors in the state are required to carry $1M in malpractice coverage with the added stipulation that $500,000 of that is purchased in the private market, while the other $500,000 is covered by the Mcare fund, into which assessments are paid annually. The idea behind this system is, of course, to reduce the cost to doctors of maintaining adequate malpractice coverage. It was put in place as a reform effort to promote doctor retention and ease the burden on healthcare providers at a time when malpractice rates in Pennsylvania were quite high.

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So… About Ebola

Ebola and eQuoteMDOkay, we had to go there, right? But don’t worry, this isn’t another piece on 10-Steps-to-Protect-Yourself-from-the-Coming-Pandemic, or 50-Things-You’re-More-Likely-to-Die-From-than-Ebola post. We just thought that Ebola is something that as healthcare professionals our readers will have a unique perspective on, and so maybe it’s worth discussing. As a professional in any field it’s always interesting, and often frustrating when a story that has to do with the specifics of your field breaks into the mainstream news cycle. Things tend to get twisted, distorted, elided, or just plain mixed up. Yet, at the same time there is a real story here. Ebola is real, and it is scary, and we should care about it, but how can we interact with others about it in a way that is professional, helpful, and insightful?

This is a question we imagine a lot of healthcare professionals have. Whether it’s browsing your Facebook feed or reading the op-eds, a conversation with a neighbor or an invitation to speak at a conference, chances are you are aware of both the situation and certain mischaracterizations of the situation. So, have you responded? Which concerns you most? Here are a few that we think are among the most common unhelpful responses: [Read more →]

New Study Shows that Malpractice Reform has Little Impact… Or Does It?

Malpractice Reform, little impact?A new study published by the Rand Corporation in the New England Journal of Medicine has many in the media aflutter with fresh pronouncements that reducing physicians’ risk of being sued doesn’t reduce defensive medicine and doesn’t save money. The study purports to show that in three states where reform was enacted certain variables, taken as indicators of defensive medicine, did not change substantially. But let’s look a little closer.

The study looked at over three million Medicare patients over the period from 1997 to 2011. Researches looked specifically at emergency room visits and measured three variables: the number of CT scans and MRIs ordered, the rate at which patients were checked into the hospital following their ER visit, and total charges for the ER visits. What they found was that in three states that changed their standard for emergency care from ordinary negligence (failure to exercise a reasonable standard of care) to gross negligence (knowingly failing to exercise a reasonable standard of care), Georgia (2005), South Carolina (2005), and Texas (2003), there was no appreciable difference in the rate of advanced imaging or inpatient check-ins, and that only in Georgia was there a very small decrease in costs. The study’s author, Dr. Daniel A. Waxman, concluded that, “This study suggests that even when the risk of being sued for malpractice decreases, the path of least resistance still may favor resource-intensive care, at least in hospital emergency departments.” But does it?

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The 6 Keys to IT Security

IT SecurityWe here at eQuoteMD had the opportunity this week to attend a HIPAA Workshop in St. Louis, Missouri sponsored by the Keane Insurance Group, Keystone IT Consulting, and the Sandberg Phoenix & Von Gontard law firm. The focus of this workshop was IT Security, specifically as it applies to the healthcare industry in light of HIPAA and other regulatory laws. While IT can seem daunting to those outside the field with all the tech talk and the ever changing technology, it’s important for doctors and/or their office managers to get a handle on what is necessary to achieve compliance. We’re now in an era where it’s simply not enough to install a firewall and a virus blocker and hope nothing happens. The rules have changed, and audits are happening with greater frequency than ever. Perhaps more importantly though, with the widespread adoption of electronic protected health information (ePHI), practices have a greater obligation than ever to ensure their patients’ privacy and the protection of their data.

In some cases this may mean getting educated yourself, but often it will also mean partnering with someone that can shepherd you through the process of becoming and remaining compliant. IT security professionals make it their business to keep up with the two moving targets that form the twin focus of IT security: public policy and technology. And it was from those two perspectives that our workshop presenter spoke as he educated us on some of the crucial elements of IT security for a medical practice.

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Top Ten Online Tools for Doctors

Top ten online tools for doctors.Today we live in a world where an online presence isn’t just recommended, it’s a given. If you have any kind of business, practice, or other public presence you already have an online presence as well. Profiles are automatically generated by review sites, online yellow pages, and even Google. So the question is not whether you will have an online presence, but whether you are leveraging the presence you already have.

We’re looking at the top ten online tools for developing your practice and managing your online reputation. Some of these are simple, one time, profile set-ups on accounts that only need to be checked in on occasionally, while others are tools that you can actively manage to better engage patients, potential patients, and the community. [Read more →]

Everybody Lies

House MD – Everyone Lies

Well, maybe not everyone, but as it turns out Dr. House’s mantra may be closer to the truth than we would hope. A recent survey conducted by EHR research group Software Advice found that a full 50% of patients surveyed admitted to at least sometimes lying to their physicians. That’s an enormous number, and it belies a real problem in doctor patient relationships. And this isn’t only a problem for morale; it’s a serious danger to both doctors and patients. If doctors are misinformed, people can end up being treated in ways that are harmful or dangerous. As the researcher responsible for the survey noted, “By not informing their physicians of all relevant medical information, both parties run the risk of misdiagnosis, the ordering of unnecessary/costly tests, and the resulting potential for medical malpractice litigation.”

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