shutterstock_263483609 Emergency medicine physicians: Could these be your cases?

  • A 35-year-old presents with shortness of breath and numbness to the legs. CXR and EKG are normal. She is discharged to see her doctor in two days, but is found dead at home. Autopsy reveals a dissecting aortic aneurysm.
  • A 15-month-old is triaged to fast track and seen by a physician assistant for fever, lethargy, ...

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Several months ago, Physician's Weekly featured an article describing a bill that was introduced into the House of Representatives called H.R. 1406: The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act. It would create a "safe harbor" for physicians who could show that they followed best practice guidelines when faced with a malpractice suit. At the end of the piece, a question was asked, "Do you think this bill will help safeguard physicians against ...

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shutterstock_186812807 Recently, a jury awarded a young California resident $28.2 million for a delayed diagnosis of a pelvic tumor. The jury found Kaiser Permanente (KP) negligent. Doctors in the system, touted to be one of the finest systems by the president, allegedly refused an immediate MRI for back pain in a 17 year old. The patient eventually received an MRI three months after ...

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Two problems loom large over the American medical care system. First, we spend outrageous amounts of money on health care, with too many patients receiving too many services at too high a price. Second, our malpractice system is an international embarrassment, with too many health care providers sued by too many patients for too little reason. Many experts have pointed out that these problems are two sides of the same coin. ...

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In anticipation of American Heart Month, an examination of the liability risks faced by cardiologists was recently undertaken by The Doctors Company, the nation’s largest physician-owned medical malpractice insurer. This analysis of 429 closed cardiology claims from 2007 to 2013 revealed that the most common patient allegations against cardiologists and other clinicians were diagnostic errors, followed closely by procedural or surgical mishaps. This data is of particular interest to cardiologists, ...

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With the endless appearance of medical malpractice solutions in the press, any reader would think we have the answers to the logjam -- but no will to implement them.  If you follow the topic, you know every proposal has flaws and limited applications as they relate to individual states or delivery systems. The worst offender seems to be safe harbor protections (i.e., “follow the guidelines and you won’t get sued”). Recently, however, I ...

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shutterstock_225356470 While the electronic medical record (EMR) has advantages, it also has introduced liability risks. EMRs can lead to lawsuits or result in a weak defense by casting the physician in an unfavorable light. For example, examine these exchanges in a recent malpractice trial:

  • Plaintiff attorney: Doctor, if the emergency renal consult was called in at 11:30, why did you wait until 6 p.m. ...

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shutterstock_51888040 New York Post reporter Susan Edelman revealed the name of the unfortunate anesthesiologist allegedly present on August 28 at Yorkville Endoscopy, during the throat procedure that led to the death of comedian Joan Rivers. She is reported to be Renuka Reddy Bankulla, MD, 47, a board-certified anesthesiologist from New Rochelle, NY. Having her name made public will be a nightmare for Dr. Bankulla, as ...

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Dostoevsky's Brother's Karamazov cleverly spoofs the careless inexpertness of what often passes for expert legal testimony. Three medical experts are called to testify whether Dmitri Karamazov was sane or insane when committing the alleged murder of his father. Naturally, the experts all disagree, with each completely convinced of the incontrovertible truth of his own opinion. Expert 1 finds Dmitri insane because he looked to the left as he entered the courtroom. Expert ...

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shutterstock_119657461 "If doctors do no other good, they at least prepare their patients early for death, undermining little by little and cutting off their enjoyment of life." These words from Montaigne are 350 years old, but, sadly, too often they describe the results of modern medicine, particularly when it is mindlessly applied in a needlessly heroic way to the end of life. I spend ...

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