Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Another Reason Why "Tort Reform" Won't End "Defensive Medicine"

In Newsweek, Sharon Begley, noted that "even in Texas, where a 2003 tort-reform law caps awards for pain and suffering at $750,000, physicians practiced defensive medicine at the same rate as in other states."

GA Supreme Court Strikes Down Medical Malpractice Damages Cap

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution reported: "A unanimous Georgia Supreme Court on Monday struck down limits on jury awards in medical malpractice cases," ruling that the $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages violates the right to a jury trial guaranteed by the Georgia Constitution, as the cap "'clearly nullifies the jury's findings of fact regarding damages and thereby undermines the jury's basic function,' Chief Justice Carol Hunstein wrote for the court." Read more.

Monday, March 22, 2010

CT Supreme Court Says Students Entitled to a "Suitable" Education

The CT Law Tribune has reported that "A divided state Supreme Court ruled [today] that all school children in the state are guaranteed not just a free public education, but a “suitable” one that adequately prepares them for a career or college." The 4-3 decision in Connecticut Coalition for Justice in Education Funding v. Rell, which could affect the way public education is funded in the state, could "go down as the most significant education-related ruling in Connecticut since 1996, when justices in Sheff v. O’Neill mandated efforts to end racial isolation in schools." Read more.

HHS Inspector General Finds Medical Error Reporting Problems

The Houston Chronicle reported, "The hospital data currently available in some states" may be "flawed by content gaps, inputting errors, failures by hospitals to conform to data-entry standards, and inadequate government oversight of the data collection process." In early March, "the sad state of medical error reporting, and the frequency of errors, was underlined in a report issued...by the Inspector General of the federal Department of Health and Human Services" in which "the IG investigated 278 hospitalizations in two undisclosed counties," uncovering "120 problematic 'events' in which patients were harmed either permanently or temporarily." However, the hospitals involved had performed "incidents reports on only eight of the 120 cases," even missing two of three reported fatality cases. The "two biggest obstacles to finding errors are inadequate hospital data and poor internal tracking of medical errors by the hospitals themselves." Read the IG's report here.

Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Suit Filed Against Turner Construction

We recently filed suit against Turner Construction Company on behalf of an East Lyme man who was injured in a construction accident in New Haven on August 21, 2009. The man, a welder employed by one of Turner's subcontractors, fell about 10 feet into an open elevator shaft pit after a safety guardrail failed. The guardrail that failed was installed and inspected by Turner, the site's general contractor. Turner is alleged to be negligent in failing to provide adequate fall protection around the elevator shaft pit; failing to provide a guardrail of sufficient strength and construction; failing to inspect the guardrail or discover or repair its dangerous condition; and violating numerous OSHA regulations. As a result of the fall, the man suffered numerous serious injuries including a blunt traumatic head injury with loss of consciousness and intracranial bleeding; traumatic brain injury with cerebral hemorrhaging; left temporal bone complex fracture; multiple rib fractures; and fractured vertebrae in his neck and upper back. Read the lawsuit here.

Recession Impacts Jury Service

CNN looks at how the recession is impacting jury duty, resulting in more people claiming economic hardship as the reason they are unable to serve.

Monday, March 8, 2010

Memo: Toyota Employees Warned Managers About Safety Concerns in 2006

The Los Angeles Times reports that a group of six "veteran" Toyota union employees sent a memo to the company's senior management that they knew "could damage their careers. The workers had recognized a troubling trend. In recent years, the automaker had kicked into high gear to fill the booming U.S. demand for smaller, more gas-efficient vehicles," and in doing so, took "dangerous safety and manpower shortcuts to lower costs and boost production. ... From 2000 to 2005, their memo pointed out, Toyota had recalled more than 5 million cars -- 36% of all sold vehicles, a rate higher than other companies. Toyota's failure to act, the two-page notice warned, may 'become a great problem that involves the company's survival.'" The Times notes that despite the workers' fears, "Toyota never responded."

Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Foodborne Illnesses Cost $152 Billion/Year

A report by a consumer and public health group concludes that foodborne illnesses cost U.S. about $152 billion per year in healthcare, workplace and other economic losses. Read more.

Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Hospitals Oppose Law on "Adverse Event" Reporting

The Day reports that "Advocates of giving the public more specific information about surgical errors, patient falls and other medical care breakdowns encountered widespread opposition from Connecticut's hospitals at a legislative public hearing Monday on increasing reporting and disclosure requirements for these so-called 'adverse events.'" Read more.

McDonald Oral Argument Transcript

Here is the transcript of today's oral argument in McDonald v. City of Chicago, courtesy of SCOTUS BLOG.