Month: June 2017

When Preventable Medical Errors Impact Your Life, Should You Leave Your Future In The Hands Of The Federal Government? Conservative Organizations Say No To Federalizing State Medical Malpractice Laws

Preventable medical errors kill and injure Americans at an alarming rate.  A study printed in the Journal of Patient Safety, as reported by Scientific American, reports that “the true number of premature deaths associated with preventable harm to patients was estimated at more than 400,000 per year,” and that serious injury occurs 10- to 20-times as often.

Despite this epidemic, the federal government is attempting to trample on state’s rights by fast-tracking legislation that protects unsafe health care providers, aka H.R. 1215.  Normally, your right to hold unsafe health care providers accountable for preventable medical errors is controlled by state law.  There are many lawyers dedicated to protecting your right.

Now, in a surprising turn of events, over 10 conservative rights organizations and leaders joined together in opposition to H.R. 1215.  In a letter to Speaker Paul Ryan, these conservatives are urging Congress to reject “the ‘federalization’ of state tort law that is contrary to constitutional principles and represents an undue restriction on freedom.”

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HR 1215 Conservative Opposition Letter

In other words, even Republican supporters are offended by the federal government’s attempt to overstep its bounds and take power away from states and their citizens.

It is likely you know someone who has been injured or killed by a preventable medical error, or that you will be impacted by a preventable medical error sometime in your life.  Joe is committed to protecting your right to be fully and fairly compensated when your life is impacted by preventable medical errors.  Are you?

If you would like to keep the federal government from limiting your right to be fully and fairly compensated when your life is impacted by preventable medical errors, then please reach out to your Congressional representative and senators and let them know.

Medical Malpractice in a U.S. Epidemic

Medical malpractice in the U.S. is an epidemic.  According to researchers at Johns Hopkins Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 250,000 Americans every year, and injure countless others. That would make it the third leading cause of death in America–behind only heart disease and cancer. When was the last time you were called to donate money to help fight preventable medical errors?

Yet, the conversations about medical malpractice focus on doctor’s insurance premiums and cost of health care. The irony is that reducing the number of preventable medical errors likely would reduce health care costs and insurance premiums, while also protecting patients and their families.

What is amazing is that only a small percentage of those injured by preventable medical errors file lawsuits.   For instance, Maricopa County has 4 million people and, based on the above statistic, at least 3,125 Maricopa County residents die each year from medical negligence–that does not include the thousands injured by preventable medical errors.  Yet, there were only 269 medical malpractice lawsuits filed in 2014.

It is likely the vast majority of those lawsuits had merit. Why?

As seen from my last post, the injured person carries a huge burden of proof. Meeting this burden of proof, and facing the scorched earth defense that is typical, usually costs over $100,000 for experts, discovery costs, and other expenses. That does not include attorneys’ fees, which are usually only paid if the injured person’s case is successfully resolved. What person is going to risk over $100,000 and two years to litigate a case that has no merit?

Also note, that Courts will dismiss cases that have no merit and jurors are not easily swayed by sympathy. Therefore, the myth that doctors and hospitals pay to make frivolous cases go away is unfounded. The bigger problem is that the vast majority of health care providers who make preventable medical errors are never held accountable.

Contact me if you think your health care provider made a preventable error and caused serious and permanent injury.

Medical Malpractice Basics

In Arizona, people have the right to sue their health care providers for medical malpractice.  Regardless of the false narratives about how these cases impact the delivery of health care, there is a constitutional protection to your right to hold health care providers accountable for their negligence.

Historically, medical malpractice laws were  designed to accomplish certain specific social objectives, including addressing poor quality care, fairly compensating patients for injuries resulting from negligence, and imposing justice in a manner that would make future occurrences less likely.

As the injured person, you have a burden.  You must prove three things.  In basic terms, you must prove: (1) the health care provider either did something they should not have (negligent act) or did not do something they should have (negligent omission), (2) that the negligent conduct caused an injury, and (3) your damages.

In most cases, you must prove these three elements by a preponderance of the evidence.  Arizona’s lawmakers raised the burden of proof in cases involving emergency room care and emergency medical services to clear and convincing evidence.   Frankly, with the conservative nature of Arizona jurors and general deference given to health care providers, you might want to view every case as requiring clear and convincing evidence.

In addition to raising the burden of proof, Arizona’s lawmakers have worked hard to interfere with your constitutional rights and impede your ability to hold health care providers accountable.  These obstacles will be addressed in future blog posts, but just know that Arizona’s lawmakers enacted several obstructionist laws that aim to limit your right to sue, limit your right to obtain full and fair compensation, and limit your right to the truth about what happened to you.

Contact me if you think someone you love was seriously and permanently injured by a careless health care provider.