Obstetrics Malpractice: Can Infant Lifetime Care Trust Help?

A decision by the Baltimore jury last year to award an extraordinary $229.6 million to the family of a baby who suffered brain injury during birth at Johns Hopkins Bayview has rattled Maryland’s health care providers.

There is a lingering fear that the judgment not only sets a dangerous precedent in similar cases but also makes hospitals like Johns Hopkins struggle to cover malpractice insurance costs that will rise manifold.

So a legislation has been proposed that seeks to balance the odds for both the health care providers and the rights of those who suffer injury during administration of health care. The legislation proposes that instead of awarding a lump sum amount towards a victim’s future medical costs, the victim would receive a guarantee of lifetime care under a proposed Maryland Infant Lifetime Care Trust. Hospitals that deliver babies would contribute, and the trust would then cover victims’ medical bills.

It is expected that this would eliminate the need to speculate or assume the future costs of medical care as well as inadequate coverage. This would also help the hospitals keep the insurance costs to a minimum helping them stay in childbirth business.

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD

Attorneys Go the Extra Mile…Literally

If ever there was an example of walking the extra mile, this would be it.

Middletown-based counsels Meghan Woods and Amado Vargas travelled to Lima, Peru covering a distance of 3,700 miles to meet and protect the interest of their client, shooting victim and quadriplegic Peru native Hernando Pezo who was shot in the neck while carrying out his job as a delivery driver for a pizza company.

In the process, the attorney-duo negotiated a $2.5 million workers’ compensation settlement with their client’s insurance carrier.

56-year-old Hernando Pezo had been shot in the neck during his first day on the job as a delivery driver for New Haven’s USA 1 Pizza.

Attorneys Woods and Vargas didn’t need to make the trip to Peru to adequately represent him in the U.S., but they did so anyway to ensure that he was adequately protected and for their own peace of mind, as Woods later said. In Peru, they spent their time meeting Peruvian housing officials, doctors, nurses, lawyers, bankers and financial managers to secure Pezo’s interests.

The two attorneys are deservingly getting much praise and accolades for going well beyond their prescribed duty to help their client’s interests.

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD

What Medical Evidence? Prove Your Case

 

The Suffolk Superior Court judge, while presiding over a medical malpractice case against Boston Children’s Hospital made it clear to the plaintiff’s lawyers that relying on general evidence and saying that “it’s in the medical records, figure it out” was insufficient and made their case thin, devoid of evidence, and short on relevant experts.

They needed to prove their case, every element of it, to show that they had a valid case against Boston Children’s Hospital and its team of doctors.

The plaintiff, 14-year old Justina Pelletier’s parents sued a renowned pediatric hospital and four caregivers over their daughter’s diagnosis and treatment in 2013 that resulted in her spending 10 months in a psychiatric unit in the custody of the state Department of Children and Families.

What miffed the judge was that the plaintiff’s lawyers used generic terms like “they” and “them” in their arguments, grouping every individual defendant together rather than making a specific case against each one of them.

As a result, the judge dismissed one part of the lawsuit’s claim that alleged violation of the Pelletiers’ civil rights by the pediatrician.

 

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD

Expert Witness Now Mandatory in Medical Liability Cases

 

“….Supreme Court of Kentucky has ruled that in malpractice cases involving complex medical conditions, such as strokes, the jury must rely on the testimony of expert witnesses, rather than relying on common knowledge to adjudicate their decisions….American Medical Association, Top court: In medical liability cases, expert testimony is a must, Tanya Albert Henry, 2019.“

This judgment goes a long way in protecting the physicians from false lawsuits and any bias or prejudice from the jury in cases such as the following:

An appellate court in Kentucky recently allowed a plaintiff, David Shackelford to proceed with a claim against a physician and hospital stating that he would have suffered less harm from a stroke had it been detected earlier. During the trial, no expert testified that the physician exercised or did not exercise the required prudence in detecting the stroke.

The Supreme Court of Kentucky disagreed with the appellate court and overturned its decision citing lack of expert testimony.

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD

Do I need An Expert Witness or Certificate of Merit?

 Litigation in a medical malpractice case is a complex process involving, among other things, procurement of an expert affidavit supporting the claim of alleged malpractice. This affidavit must be produced along with or shortly after initiating action.

The affidavit states the expert’s qualification, that the expert reviewed the case, and that there are sufficient grounds to believe that the medical officer breached the standard of care.

The North Dakota Supreme Court has now laid out the “obvious occurrence” exception rule for submission of the Expert Affidavit. This rule says that if the alleged malpractice occurred during surgery, the affidavit need not be produced in cases of

  • Failure to remove a foreign substance from within the body of a patient.
  • Performance of a medical procedure upon the wrong patient, organ, limb, or other part of the patient’s body.
  • Any other obvious occurrence.

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Kayur V. Patel, MD, MRO, FACP, FACPE, FACHE, FACEP
KayurVPatel@ExpertWitness.MD