Did you know that doctors are rewarded by insurance companies for keeping their patients’ cholesterol and blood pressure below certain levels?

For some patients, the benefits may not outweigh the risks because doctors are pressured to treat patients with drugs that may not be best for them. Physicians who meet their targets are given a bonus from the insurance comapny and can get high ratings on insurer websites. Physicians who don’t follow suit get lower payments and are given lowers ratings on insurer websites.

By pressuring physicians to comply, they may feel pressured to withhold treatment that they feel is required or feel forced to recommend treatment whose risks may outweigh benefits.

>> Read more about how insurance company incentives are corrupting medical care in the U.S. 

When facing the prospect of filing a lawsuit for a medical malpractice issue or a personal injury you or a loved one has suffered, your choice of the right attorney will be critical.

Experience.

You will likely want to consider attorneys with the right kind of experience in handling your very specific type of case. For example, a birth injury case could be very different from a surgical site infection or a misdiagnosis.

Medical experts.

Experience isn’t the only factor to be considered either. Any attorney you hire to represent you will not only need the requisite legal experience to manage your case successfully but he or she will also need access to the right medical experts to prove that there was negligence on the part of the healthcare provider who injured you or your loved one.

Medical experts play an important role in the pursuit of any claim for medical malpractice or personal injury. They are there to assess your case, examine the records of the injuries, evaluate the treatments offered and determine where the fault may lie in the situation that has caused you pain and suffering.

Having access to medical expert opinions could be crucial to the success of your case. So when you consider hiring an attorney be sure to consider as well the “support team” they bring with them: the experts, the investigators and, as always, the attorney’s own pertinent experience to ensure the choice you’ve made to represent you is a great match.

Personality.

Finally, it must be noted that medical malpractice cases can sometimes take a long time. Since you may be working closely with your attorney for an extended period, you’ll want to make sure that there’s a personality fit too. Ask yourself whether you like and trust the attorney. Does the attorney have your best interests in mind and isn’t just in it for the money? Is the attorney someone you can feel comfortable calling when you need an update on your case?

The New England Journal of Medicine reports:

Injuries due to medical errors are a major cause of death among Americans. Although some progress has been made in reducing certain types of adverse events, overall rates of errors remain extremely high. Failures of communication, including miscommunication during handoffs of patient care from one resident to another, are a leading cause of errors; such miscommunications contribute to two of every three “sentinel events,” the most serious events reported to the Joint Commission.5 The omission of critical information and the transfer of erroneous information during handoffs are common. As resident work hours have been reduced, handoffs between residents have increased in frequency.

Improving handoffs has become a priority in efforts to improve patient safety.

>> Read the entire Special Report

It’s reported that there are possibly as many as 440,000 deaths per year associated with malpractice in hospitals, four times as many as was previously thought.

A recent study concludes that the epidemic of patients getting hurt in hospitals must be taken more seriously if it is to be reduced. Keeping patients informed and involved while being cared for in the hospital during hospital care, getting more feedback from the patients about their actual harms, accountability for harm, and “intentional correction of root causes of harm” are necessary in the hospital care system.

Read the complete study.

Nobody expects doctors and hospitals to be perfect.  But we do expect them to act carefully and reasonably in caring for us and our family.   And like each of us, if they do not act carefully and reasonably, they are accountable for any harm caused by their actions.   If a medical mistake hurt you or your family, those responsible for the harm must be held accountable. And someone needs to make them make it right.  That’s where the right lawyer comes in.  Cases which involve harm caused by medical mistakes are commonly referred to as medical malpractice cases.

In Ohio, to succeed in a medical malpractice case you must prove that an injury  was caused  from a medical professional’s  failure to act carefully and reasonably under the circumstances.  This includes an error in  treatment, a failure to timely or correctly diagnose an illness or condition, a delay in treatment among other things.

If that isn’t  complicated enough,  there are strict (and quite short) time limits by which you must file a lawsuit or you miss the chance to seek redress for the harm caused by any medical errors.  Once you hire a lawyer to file timely file your case,, there are other issues to navigate.

Ohio law has a cap on damages  caused by medical errors that restricts the  amount an injured person can recover no matter the severity of the harm.  These caps are complicated.  Damages are what you’re seeking in a medical malpractice case but there are several different kinds of damages at stake in a case. Payment of medical bills and lost wages are compensatory damages. These are numbers that are easily calculated and there are no caps for these kinds of damages.

Pain and suffering are phrases most people recognize. These non-economic damages cover exactly that, what you went through as a result of the medical error(s). This is where caps come into play and where the calculation is not easy or clear cut and where a seasoned lawyer can really be of benefit to you.

There’s also damages intended to punish the medical profession for behavior that is reckless and results in injury or damage. These are punitive damages and they are capped in direct relation to the compensatory damages you may be awarded.

Winning isn’t the only thing, it’s just a part of the help you need when taking on the medical establishment because being made whole for what happened to you is really what it comes down to.  That’s what we strive for at Leeseberg & Valentine, making sure that when we win for you we have made sure that you are going to be taken care of and can live with what happened to you at the hands of the medical profession, people we trust because we have to but that we know aren’t perfect.

Once again, Medical Malpractice Lawyers Gerald Leeseberg and Anne Valentine have been selected as two of the Best Lawyers in America  for Personal Injury Litigation for 2014. This honor marks the 17th consecutive year Mr. Leeseberg has been granted such distinction, and the 11th straight year for Ms. Valentine. Both continue to prove themselves as consistent and dedicated members of the legal community and this recognition is certainly deserved.

Selection of Best Lawyers is based on an exhaustive and rigorous peer-review survey comprised of more than 4 million confidential evaluations by the top attorneys in the country.  The annual Best Lawyers publication has been described by The American Lawyer as “the most respected referral list of attorneys in practice.” Because no fee or purchase is required, being listed in Best Lawyers is considered a singular honor.

Leeseberg and Valentine focus their practice on representing those injured by medical malpractice and the negligence of others. Their work as medical malpractice lawyerswrongful death lawyers, and personal injury lawyers continues to be recognized and we are proud to congratulate Mr. Leeseberg and Ms. Valentine on being selected by their peers for inclusion in the 2014 Best Lawyers of America listing.

For more information on the Best Lawyers in America listing, please visit Best Lawyers’ Website.

September 20, 2014, Los Angeles Times,  by Michael Hiltzik

Tort reform,” which is usually billed as the answer to “frivolous malpractice lawsuits,” has been a central plank in the Republican program for healthcare reform for decades.

The notion has lived on despite copious evidence that that the so-called defensive medicine practiced by doctors merely to stave off lawsuits accounts for, at best, 2% to 3% of U.S. healthcare costs. As for ”frivolous lawsuits,” they’re a problem that exists mostly in the minds of conservatives and the medical establishment.

A new study led by Michael B. Rothberg of the Cleveland Clinic and published in the Journal of the American Medical Association aimed to measure how much defensive medicine there is, really, and how much it costs. The researchers’ conclusion is that defensive medicine accounts for about 2.9% of healthcare spending. In other words, out of the estimated $2.7-trillion U.S. healthcare bill, defensive medicine accounts for $78 billion.

As Aaron Carroll observes at the AcademyHealth blog, $78 billion is “not chump change … but it’s still a very small component of overall health care spending.” Any “tort reform” stringent enough to make that go away would likely create other costs, such as a rise in medical mistakes generated by the elimination of the oversight exercised by the court system.

Since it doesn’t appear that “tort reform” would have any effect on this spending, Carroll says, “there seems little reason to pursue it as a means to dramatically reduce health care spending in the United States.”

The prevalence of defensive medicine may be overestimated by doctors themselves, Rothberg and his colleagues found, because many procedures are ordered in part defensively, but partially or mostly for legitimate diagnostic or therapeutic reasons. “Tort reform” would only eliminate orders made purely because of fear of litigation — that is, 100% defensively — and that’s a tiny percentage of the total.

Tort reform has seldom been about reducing healthcare spending. For Republicans, it’s about de-funding a bloc of reliable Democratic Party supporters — trial lawyers.

That’s why the suppression of malpractice lawsuits has remained part of Republican and conservative orthodoxy despite the evidence that its impact on healthcare spending would be minimal. Even in conservative healthcare pundit Avik Roy’s supposedly objective proposed alternative to the Affordable Care Act (which we examined here), malpractice “reform” retains its pride of place.

Roy acknowledges the findings that defensive medicine accounts for only 2% to 3% of spending, but writes, “nonetheless, reform is warranted.” He asserts, curiously, that “the U.S. health care system is uniquely vulnerable to frivolous malpractice lawsuits.” But if the numbers don’t validate that claim, what does?

The minimal impact of defensive medicine on healthcare costs demonstrates the injustice of the stringent limits on malpractice lawsuits advocated by doctors, insurance companies and Republican policymakers.

As we’ve pointed out in the past, “pain-and-suffering” damage caps and other stratagems to discourage malpractice lawsuits benefit mostly insurers. Their impact falls disproportionately on women and families with infants, because their economic damages, which remain subject to jury awards, are hard to estimate and typically underestimated.

As for “frivolous lawsuits,” defined as cases that should never have been brought at all, they’re a lot rarer than most tort reform advocates admit. Studies have documented that the vast majority of them don’t yield a payment to the plaintiff. The converse is a bigger problem — genuinely injured patients who can’t get redress because the courthouse doors have been shut to them. The victims there are often lower-income or unemployed patients.

The quintessential tort reform law is California’s MICRA, to the state’s shame. The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act capped noneconomic and nonmedical damages in malpractice to $250,000 in 1975. Inflation has eroded that sum to the equivalent today of about $57,000 in 1975 dollars.

To have retained its value, the MICRA limit would have to be raised to about $1.1 million today. That’s the goal of Proposition 46 on the November ballot. Even though the MICRA increase has been yoked to a silly plan for drug testing of doctors, it’s worth your vote.

Roy’s proposal would impose the same $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages for any patient receiving a federal health insurance subsidy under the Affordable Care Act or enrolled in Medicaid, Medicare or any other federal program.

Why them? Apparently only because they’re within the grasp of federal law. Roy all but acknowledges that there’s no legitimate economic reason for this punitive approach. It won’t save a significant amount of money. It won’t change the direction of healthcare costs. It’s just nastiness, and as is usual with conservatives approaches to healthcare, it punishes the most defenseless members of society. Healthcare policy should do just the opposite.

 

One of the most well-publicized and most misunderstood cases in history is the “McDonald’s coffee case.” To understand more about the case, and the woman so severely injured, check out this video.

 

Untreated Heroin Withdrawal Results in Death and Civil Rights Lawsuit

Cleveland, Ohio.  March 7, 2014.  A federal civil rights lawsuit was filed today against Richland County jail officials who failed to treat Corey Tolar’s heroin withdrawal which resulted in his death on September 29, 2012.  The lawsuit alleges that Tolar suffered excruciating, painful and wrenching withdrawal symptoms in full view of jail medical staff.  No meaningful treatment was provided before his death.  By coincidence the case was filed on the same day that state officials are holding a public hearing to consider relaxing regulations regarding Ohio jail standards.  Co-Counsel Al Gerhardstein stated, “These tragic deaths can be avoided.  All Sheriffs need to stay vigilant and provide inmates the basic treatment needed to avoid death through withdrawal.”  Drug addiction is a common problem in Richland County and the family hopes through this case to ensure that citizens get the help they need when they experience withdrawal.  Attorneys Gerald Leeseberg and Craig Tuttle of Columbus are co-counsel on the case.  A copy of the lawsuit is available here: Complaint.  A copy of Mr. Gerhardstein’s objections to the relaxation of standards governing Ohio’s jails is available here: Public Comment.

The case is pending in federal court in Cleveland, Ohio and assigned to judge Donald C Nugent.

Once again, the medical malpractice lawyers and personal injury lawyers at Leeseberg & Valentine have earned the distinction of being named one of the “Best Law Firms” in the country by U.S. News & World Report’s 2014 Best Lawyers publication. Leeseberg & Valentine was named a Tier 1 law firm for personal injury litigation, which is the highest distinction given by the publication. This honor is especially rewarding in that the “Best Law Firms” are determined by a rigorous evaluation of a combination of client feedback and our firm’s reputation among other lawyers in the legal community.

The Columbus medical malpractice lawyers and personal injury lawyers at Leeseberg & Valentine are honored to be named a “Best Law Firm” and look forward to continuing to fight for justice on behalf of those injured from the negligence of others.