Tag Archives: Illinois

Illinois Med Mal Insurance

Female and Male Surgeon For doctors in need of Illinois med mal policies, the good news is that there are plenty of options available and the agents of MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com are truly experts in the state. And, the parent company of MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com is Cunningham Group, a medical malpractice insurance agency based in Illinois and providing med mal insurance exclusively since 1983.

For doctors seeking Illinois med mal insurance, a few things need to be taken into consideration. The prices can vary significantly from county to county within the state. For Cook County and the Chicago area, the prices tend to be higher and the underwriting process is usually more scrutinized by the insurance companies. Most surprisingly is the cost of coverage in the Southern, more rural part of the state. Costs can be as high as Cook County and it pays to shop for coverage every year. Physicians entering new practices may want to enter the cheaper counties of Illinois, specifically the extended suburbs of Chicago and counties such as DuPage, Will and Lake Counties. These counties are not only experiencing unprecedented growth, but the pricing seems to have stabilized, as well, for doctors purchasing Illinois med mal insurance.

What companies are available? Since Cunningham Group is such a well-established med mal agency in Illinois, we have the pleasure of having the med mal insurance agencies visit us multiple times throughout the year. The representatives of these companies, such as Medical Protective, Medicus, The Doctors Company, and Professional Solutions Insurance Company tell us that they are eager to look at business in the state and eager to offer competitive quotes.

Given the relatively high number of insurance carriers in Illinois, combined with the high cost of medical malpractice insurance in certain areas of the state, it is recommended that physicians and medical care providers seek out a market analysis on a yearly basis. If you would like a free market analysis, please call us directly on our toll free number 1-866-824-0137, or complete our online quote request form, and an account representative will contact you within 24 hours and provide you with a free quote.

More than Half of All Medical Malpractice Indemnity Payments Were Made by Six States

A recently released study of all medical malpractice payments made in 2011 indicates that six states accounted for more than half of all medical malpractice indemnifications. The analyzed data came from the National Practitioner Data Bank

That is an astonishing statistic. Which six states accounted for more than half of all medical malpractice indemnity payments is not a surprise. The highest malpractice payout was New York, followed by Pennsylvania, Illinois, New Jersey, Florida and California.

Not coincidentally, the states with the highest medical malpractice indemnity payments also have some of the highest medical malpractice insurance premiums. In some parts of New York and Florida, an obstetrician can be paying in excess of $200,000 in annual base rate medical liability premium.

Looking at base rate premiums in California, one can see how tort reform can keep medical malpractice insurance premiums affordable. While California paid out the sixth largest dollar total in medical liability indemnity, its medical malpractice insurance rates are comparatively inexpensive. An obstetrician practicing in the state’s most expensive county (Los Angeles County) for medical malpractice insurance can pay as little as $38,050 in base rate premium. The most expensive annual base rate premium in Los Angeles County hovers around $80,000. Compared to New York and Florida, those numbers are a steal.

The California Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) has long been the gold standard in medical liability tort reform. Enacted in 1975, the law caps non-economic, pain-and-suffering damages at $250,000. The law also has other requirements that are intended to weed out frivolous lawsuits.

Other interesting statistics found in the study of 2011 medical malpractice payments include:

• The six states that make up the bottom of the malpractice indemnity payments (South Dakota, Vermont, Wyoming, North Dakota and Alaska) make up less than 1 percent of of total payouts.

• Slightly more than 36 percent of all medical malpractice indemnity payments are made to patients age 40 to 59 ($1.3 billion) , followed by patients age 20 to 30 ($786.3 million).

• In total, 58 percent of all medical malpractice indemnity payments were made to women; 42 percent of all indemnity payments were made to men.

• Medical malpractice indemnity payments have been declining since 2003.

• The total dollar amount of 2011 medical malpractice indemnity payments were slightly less than they were in 2010.

ATRA Releases Annual List of Juducial Hellholes, Motivates Medical Malpractice Reform

side note: This week, the American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) released its annual Judicial Hellholes Report. Since 2002, the Judicial Hellholes Report has documented in annually published reports various abuses within the civil justice system, focusing primarily on jurisdictions where courts are radically out of balance. This list has been an invaluable tool in educating state and local politicians about out-of-control jurisdictions that impede business and threaten access to healthcare. It has also motivated legislative reform of medical malpractice laws across the country.

No surprise, Philadelphia topped the Judicial Hellholes list for 2011/2012. Known for its tradition of venue shopping, weak joint-and-several liability as well as disproportionate jury verdicts, the City of Brotherly Love has been in the ATRA’s sites for some time. Of course, South Florida made the list as well as perennial Hellholes like Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties in Illinois.

What’s new to this year’s report is an expanded “Points of Light” section, where states that have made tort reform advances get their props. And this year, there has been a lot of tort reform props to go around.

This year might someday be looked back upon as the year of tort reform. Riding a red wave of conservatism in the 2010 elections, new Republican majorities in statehouses across the country tackled lawsuit reform with gusto. More than 40 new tort reform measures passed in states across the country, including “big wins” in Alabama, Arizona, North Carolina, Oklahoma, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas and Wisconsin, among others.

Washington, DC, December 15, 2011 — The American Tort Reform Association today released its annual Judicial Hellholes report, documenting abuses of the civil justice system in jurisdictions it says are among the most unfair and out-of-balance in the nation.

Editor’s note: This article was removed from the ATRA’s website. Here is a link to the full report.

Illinois Medical Malpractice Insurance Threatened by Supreme Court Decision

side note: In 2005, the Illinois Legislature passed a series of tort reform laws intended to have a deflating effect on medical malpractice insurance premiums for the state’s healthcare workforce. At the heart of these reforms was a $500,000 cap on non-economic damages. Non-economic damages are harms such as pain and suffering, emotional distress, disfigurement or the loss of the enjoyment of life caused by an injury.

A non-economic damage cap is successful at reducing the cost of medical malpractice insurance because they increase the actuarial predictability of future medical malpractice awards and settlements. This deflates the cost of medical malpractice insurance because there is no need to keep reserves necessary in the case of a “jackpot” jury verdict of several millions of dollars.

Because non-economic damage caps are so successful at reducing the insurance burden on healthcare workers, many states have passed non-economic damage laws over the years. These laws have been furiously challenged in the state court systems as unconstitutional.

Trial lawyer groups opposed to non-economic damage caps argue that the caps violate state constitutions because they violate the established right to a trial by jury. They argue that if the jury comes back with a multi-million dollar verdict, but the judge reduces that verdict to be within the scope of the cap, the plaintiff was cheated out of the ability to have his or her case decided by a jury. Many state supreme courts have agreed with trial lawyers, finding the caps unconstitutional; and voiding them as law.

The two most recent instances where a state supreme court has voided medical malpractice non-economic damage caps have been Illinois and Georgia. This has happened several times in Illinois; each time legislators have reworded the language of the non-economic damage caps in hopes of passing supreme court muster, and each time have failed.

Illinois would be smart to look at how Texas ultimately got non-economic damage caps to pass challenge. The state put the caps up for a citizen ballot initiative to enshrine the caps as part of the state constitution. After educating the public on the benefits of the caps, voters ratified the initiative and the caps were part of the Texas Constitution. This effectively eliminated the ability of trial lawyers to argue the caps were unconstitutional.

In the spring of 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court overturned caps on certain medical malpractice damages originally enacted in 2005.

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Illinois Cracks Down on Doctors Convicted of Crimes Against Patients

side note: This is the Illinois story that keeps on giving. Last year, the Chicago Tribune did an investigative article where it was discovered an appalling number of Illinois doctors practicing with convictions on their record for sex crimes or violent acts against patients. This led directly to the passage and implementation of House Bill 105, the Patients’ Right to Know Act, which requires the Illinois Department of Financial & Professional Regulation to make physician profiles available for public inspection, including an internet-accessible database. The database will compile a wide range of information, including: years in practice, hospital privileges, educational information, criminal convictions for felonies and Class A misdemeanors as well as any professional disciplinary actions, Medicaid participation, journal articles and translation services offered.

This week the Chicago Tribune reported on steps taken by the state that revoked the licenses of nearly a dozen health care workers who have been convicted of violent crimes or sex crimes against their patients. The six physicians and five nurses who lost their ability to practice in the state were the first facing punishment under a new state law. Blog readers are aware of several new pieces of legislation that were passed by lawmakers this year to prevent Illinois medical malpractice and abuse.

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Illinois Supreme Court Considers Pattern Jury Instruction for Medical Malpractice Cases

side note: Could this be a judicial “make good”? After neutering the majority of Illinois’ medical malpractice tort reforms when it deemed the state’s cap on non-economic damages unconstitutional two years ago, Illinois’ highest court more clearly defined the role of expert testimony in medical professional liability lawsuits this month. The question is whether this clarification of Illinois’ pattern jury instructions will have any affect on the risk exposure of the state’s healthcare community.

The Illinois Supreme Court addressed an interesting issue earlier this month: whether the Illinois Pattern Jury Instructions on the standard of care for professional negligence correctly stated the law in Illinois. This issue was considered in Studt v. Sherman Health Systems, 2011 WL 2409897.

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Medical Malpractice Insurance in Illinois & Tort Reform

Illinois has long been considered a medical liability crisis state. Tort reform advocates argue this dubious distinction can be attributed to the state’s court system. Cook, Madison and St. Clair Counties, specifically, are widely acknowledged as having very plaintiff-friendly courts, and healthcare professionals who practice in those regions pay medical malpractice insurance rates that rank amongst the highest in the nation. And following a recent decision by the Illinois Supreme Court, those rates look to increase in the near future.

On Feb. 4, 2010, the Illinois Supreme Court dealt another blow to its physician and patient populations—as well as tort reform advocates nationwide—when it struck down the state’s almost five-year-old medical malpractice insurance reforms. The now invalid Public Act 94-677 legislation was passed amid statewide escalating liability costs for medical providers and capped pain-and-suffering as well as other non-economic damages at $500,000 per case for doctors and $1 million for hospitals

The much anticipated ruling marked the third time that the state’s highest court has invalidated limits on medical malpractice awards, ruling against similar laws in 1976 and 1997. Tort reform advocates and the Illinois State Medical Society argue that the court’s decision invites an increase in medical claims, along with higher insurance premiums for the state’s healthcare community. In fact, tort reform advocates point to a recent study that was conducted in the wake of the high court’s decision that calculated the potential impact to be an 23 percent jump in physician medical malpractice insurance premiums over the course of the next few years. Over time, and depending on the volume of claims and award amounts, this number could grow much higher.

The Illinois Supreme Court ruling originates from a 2006 malpractice lawsuit, LeBron v. Gottlieb, where plaintiffs alleged obstetric malpractice led to injuries that include “severe brain injury, cerebral palsy, cognitive mental impairment, inability to be fed normally and develop normal neurological function.”

THE COURT’S OPINION
In its ruling that Public Act 94-677 was unconstitutional, the Illinois Supreme Court cited the state constitution’s separation of powers clause as its reasoning, which upheld the 2007 ruling by a Cook County Circuit Court judge, who determined the damages cap violated the right of juries to determine fair damages.

Citing the precedent of Best v. Taylor Machine Works, 179 Ill. 2d 367 (1997), the court ruled that the statutory caps violate the separation of powers clause of the Illinois Constitution because “the legislature is prohibited from enacting laws that unduly infringe upon the inherent power of judges” and “disregards the jury’s careful deliberative process in determining damages that will fairly compensate injured plaintiffs who have proven their causes of action.”

WHAT THE DECISION MEANS FOR ILLINOIS
In all likelihood, the state Supreme Court’s ruling in Lebron v. Gottlieb marks the end of flat, or waning, medical malpractice insurance rates in Illinois. ISMIE Mutual Insurance Company, the state’s largest medical liability insurer, had lowered or maintained its premiums since the 2005 signing of Public Act 94-677 into law.

The American Medical Association announced its worry that Illinois’ patients and physicians would now revisit the crisis that occurred in the state after the court overruled a previous cap on non-economic damages in 1997, where severe problems with patient access to care emerged as the excesses of the state’s legal system forced Illinois physicians to limit services, retire early or move to other states where medical malpractice insurance premiums were more stable.

The actuarial consulting firm Milliman has estimated that the court’s ruling will increase medical liability insurance costs in Illinois by approximately 23 percent. The company also estimated an increase of 10 percent in ALAE costs, for an average increase in loss and ALAE of 18 percent.

The impact on medical malpractice insurance rates in Illinois, however, is not as clear because medical malpractice insurance companies had been skeptical from the beginning that the 2005 legal reforms would hold (Illinois does have a judicial reputation after all). As such, Milliman does not expect the full impact on loss costs to be felt on actual rates.

Because the 2010 Lebron decision has pushed Illinois’ medical malpractice insurance rates back into questionable territory, it is more important than ever to employ the help of an experienced broker with access to all the major carriers when shopping for medical malpractice insurance in Illinois. A knowledgeable medical malpractice insurance broker in Illinois can shop your coverage to ensure you get the best policy at the best price.

Click to request your free Medical Malpractice Insurance Quote in Illinois. We will get you competing quotes from all the leading medical malpractice insurance carriers in Illinois, including ISMIE.

Is Illinois a Medical Malpractice Hell Hole?

Side note: It is, according to the annual American Tort Reform Association’s “Judicial Hellholes” report. Cook county is listed as the number 5 worst county in the country while St. Clair and Madison counties made the “watch list”; Cook county has the infamous distinction of being a former #1. The list is based on the outlandish size of medical malpractice payouts and the gross miscarriages of justice faced by medical malpractice defendants.

By The Pantagraph Editorial Board

The American Tort Reform Association’s annual “Judicial Hellholes” report is out and, no surprise, Illinois jurisdictions figure prominently again.

Cook County is listed fifth and St. Clair and Madison counties are on the “watch list,” with the report noting of the latter, “This former No. 1 Judicial Hellhole is again moving up the charts.”

What is surprising is that McLean County is on the association’s list of “other areas to watch” — or “dishonorable mentions.”

How did McLean County get on such a list?

The report points to two incidents. In one, the head of the Illinois Manufacturers Association was forced to comply with a subpoena to testify here in a case, which the “judicial watchers” said was unnecessary because the IMA was not a party to the lawsuit. The other incident involved two civil trials involving the same defendant being scheduled the same day in front of different judges.

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Illinois Professionals Health Program now Monitoring Doctors with Sexual Misconduct Allegations

Side note: The Illinois Professionals Health Program, the same organization that has drawn criticism for its lack of transparency while monitoring health professionals with records of substance abuse, has been made responsible for the monitoring of doctors with a history of sexual misconduct. Opponents charge that the “off-the-book”, secretive nature of the program does not provide patients with the transparency that they deserve. While the state’s medical malpractice insurance lobby, the sponsor of the program, ensures that the program is more than adequate to protect the citizens of Illinois.

By Megan Twohey
Chicago Tribune

A private program that has long kept secret watch over Illinois doctors receiving substance-abuse treatment is now monitoring health care professionals with sexual misconduct violations — including some convicted of crimes.

Begun several decades ago by the state’s doctors’ lobby, the Illinois Professionals Health Program has drawn criticism for the off-the-books nature of its work and its lack of accountability.

That it has expanded its reach to sex-offending health workers has heightened the controversy. Critics say such individuals don’t belong in a program shrouded in secrecy. Sexual misconduct demands disciplinary action, they say, not just treatment. And the public deserves to know who violators are.

Read the Rest over at the Trib

Study: Toxic Medical Malpractice Insurance Environment Driving away Doctors

Side note: The “toxic” medical malpractice environment in Illinois is driving away doctors. This fact is supported by a recent study conducted by Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine. Half of the students graduating from the state’s medical schools plan to leave Illinois after graduation. They cite the sky-high medical malpractice insurance rates and the anti-doctor liability environment in the state government and Supreme Court.

BY MONIFA THOMAS
Chicago Sun Times Health Reporter

A new study says that half of all graduating medical residents or fellows trained in Illinois are leaving the state to practice elsewhere, a trend researcher’s blame in part on the state’s “toxic” medical malpractice environment.

Researchers from Northwestern University’s Feinberg School of Medicine asked 561 Illinois medical students where they intended to practice after graduation and why.

Students who planned to leave Illinois, often for Wisconsin or Indiana, cited salary, opportunities to work in their specialty and proximity to family as the most important factors driving their decision.

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