Tag Archives: Michigan

Michigan Legislature Passes Two Medical Malpractice Tort Reform Bills

On Dec. 13, 2012, the Michigan Legislature passed two bills pertaining to medical professional liability. Senate Bill 115 caps recoverable non-economic damages at $280,000 and reduces the total amount of future damages to present values at a rate of 5 percent per year, compounded annually, for each year in which those damages accrue. Senate Bill 118 limits the time period that one is able to file a medical malpractice claim on behalf of a deceased person and bans prejudgement interest on attorney fees and costs awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits. Both bills passed with overwhelming support in the Michigan House.

“This package of legislation is a great first step toward making Michigan a contender in attracting and retaining high-quality physicians,” said Sen. Roger Kahn, MD, himself a cardiologist. “The health needs of citizens across the state continue to grow, and we need to make sure Michiganders are getting the best care possible. Without changes, Michigan will continue to lose qualified doctors and many physicians will choose to open and maintain their practices in other states.”

The two bills that are now law were introduced in May of 2012 as part of a “Patients First Reform Package,” a four-bill bundle intended to address the state’s medical malpractice environment and looming physician shortage.

One of the bills that did not pass, Senate Bill 1116, would have removed physician as well as healthcare facility liability in a malpractice case if it is determined the doctor acted with a reasonable, good-faith belief that the conduct was well-founded in medicine and in the patient’s best interest. Critics of the legislation argued that it gave immunity to bad doctors should they injure a patient, and when debated this past summer, several hundred protested its contents a the state capitol in Lansing, Mich. Championed by the Michigan State Medical Society, the physician lobby argued the language means that a doctor would still be obligated to the prevailing standards of care and that such reform measures are necessary to keep the state attractive for physicians.

Senate Bill 1117, which also did not pass, would have created more stringent requirements for individuals delivering expert testimony in a medical malpractice case.

James Woods, University of Michigan Agree: Apology in Medicine Saves Medical Malpractice Expenses

James Woods recently testified before the Rhode Island General Assembly in favor of apology-in-medicine legislation. That’s right, the acclaimed American film, stage and television actor extraordinaire is a proponent of apology in medicine.

Apology in medicine in not a new concept, but in the context of medical adverse events and unanticipated outcomes, an apology has the potential to considered an admission against interest, which can translate into an admission of fault that is admissible in a court of law. Most medical malpractice insurance companies advise their insureds not to apologize; many medical malpractice insurance companies require their insureds not apologize.

There are many proponents of apology in medicine and laws that shield those apologies from being admissible in court. James Woods is the newest and most-high-profile proponent of apology laws.

In 2006, Woods’ brother, Michael, died of a heart attack at Kent Hospital in Warwick, R.I. Woods sued the hospital accusing emergency room staff of negligence, but settled the lawsuit in 2009 after a hospital executive made a sincere apology and agreed to start an institute in his brother’s name.

Woods recently used his acclaim as Rhode Island’s greatest living actor to testify in favor of “benevolent gestures” legislation currently being considered by the General Assembly. The bill, 2012-H 7290, would let healthcare providers apologize to patients or families for the negative outcome of treatment without leaving the providers vulnerable to malpractice lawsuits.

Apology in medicine is not an untested concept. The University of Michigan implemented a policy of apologizing for medical errors in 2001, and the effort has effectively decreased the hospital system’s liability costs and didn’t lead to additional malpractice lawsuits.

According to the University of Michigan, new claims for compensation, liability costs and the amount of time it took to resolve claims after the policy was implemented all went down. In fact, the median time to resolve a claim dropped from about 16 months to just less than a year; the monthly rate of new claims fell from about 7 per 100,000 patient encounters to 4.5 per 100,00; the number of lawsuits the health system experienced fell from about 38.7 per year to about 17 after the new program began; the annual spending at the university’s health system on legal defense decreased by 61 percent; and the average cost per lawsuit decreased from $405,921 to $228,308 after the policy started.

U of M's Policy to Disclose Errors Beneficial

Side Note: We here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com love what we are seeing happen in Michigan in regards to Michigan med mal –especially within the University of Michigan Health System. Even before the state of Michigan passed their “I’m Sorry” law, allowing physicians to apologize or express sympathy to patients for poor outcomes, and not have it be used against them in a med ma lawsuit, the University of Michigan Health System was well on its way in supporting this kind of behavior by its physicians. In fact, the University of Michigan has asked its physicians to go one step further and actually admit medical errors to their patients. Their policy, The U-M Health System approach to malpractice claims, is available in a summary format and it provides a really refreshing use of frank language and approach to discussing errors and their treatment both internally, as an organization, and externally, with the affected patient.

Since instituting the policy, the U of M Health System has seen dramatic changes in their med mal-related costs and incidents. First, they saw a decrease in new legal claims. Second, they saw a faster claim to resolution time. And, third, they saw lower medical liability costs. This includes a 61% reduction in hospital legal defense-related costs. (And, we would imagine that this would or has already resulted in lower Michigan med mal policy costs.) Another, harder to measure change, is an increase in patient safety.

All of this just confirms the many studies we have already seen that show open and honest communication, often with an apology, can help to reduce med mal claims.

Would you like to lower your Michigan liability policy rates? If so, take a moment today to complete our no-cost, no-obligation quote form.

U-M’s efforts to encourage disclosure of medical errors decreased claims
From: http://www2.med.umich.edu
Posted: August 16, 2010

Doctor apologizing to patient for medical errorAnn Arbor, Mich.– The University of Michigan’s program of full disclosure and compensation for medical errors resulted in a decrease in new claims for compensation (including lawsuits), time to claim resolution and lower liability costs, according to a study published Aug. 17 in the Annals of Internal Medicine.

“The need for full disclosure of harmful medical errors is driven by both ethics and patient safety concerns,” said lead study author, Allen Kachalia, M.D., J.D., Medical Director of Quality and Safety at Brigham and Women’s Hospital. “However, because of fears that disclosing every medical error may lead to more malpractice claims and costs, disclosure may not happen as often and consistently as we would hope.”

For the original article, click here.

Michigan "I'm Sorry" Law Passed

Side Note: Michigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed into law an “I’m Sorry” law for Michigan physicians. The law allows physicians to express sympathy related to suffering, pain or death and not have it used again them as evidence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. However, the law would “not apply to a statement of negligence or culpable conduct” that is made along with a sympathetic statement. So, Michigan physicians still need to be somewhat careful with what they say to patients.

We here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com are happy to see the state of Michigan join the growing list of states with “I’m Sorry” laws. As we have discussed previously, open, honest and frequent communication with patients not only fosters a better doctor-patient relationship, but it also increases patient satisfaction and reduces a physician’s likelihood of facing a med mal lawsuit. Being able to carry on a thoughtful conversation expressing sympathy in light of less than desirable outcomes can often mean the difference between being sued for med mal and having to use your Michigan med mal policy and not being sued for med mal –weather actual malpractice has occurred or not. (As we all know, a physician does not have to actually commit malpractice to be charged with it.)

Are you a Michigan physician who would like to lower your Michigan med mal insurance rates? If so, complete our quote request form today.

Governor Signs Bill Preventing Malpractice Suits
Posted: Apr 19, 2011 10:37 AM CDT
From wlns.com

Doctor Offering an ApologyMichigan Gov. Rick Snyder has signed legislation aimed at providing some legal protection to medical providers who express sympathy or compassion to patients or their families. The Republican governor approved a bill that says a statement conveying sympathy related to pain, suffering or death can’t be used as evidence of admitting liability in a medical malpractice suit.

See the full article.

Michigan Doctors May Be Able to Say "I'm Sorry"

Side Note: Here at MyMedicalMalpracticeInsurance.com, it kills us that physicians are often compelled not to say that they’re sorry to patients when errors occur –especially when doing so often avoids med mal litigation and it is what the physicians want to do. Finally, Michigan physicians may not have to worry that saying, “I’m sorry,” is an admission of guilt. A new bill, introduced by Senator Jim Marleau, says that saying “I’m sorry,” can no longer be considered an admission of guilt in civil lawsuits –provided that the physician doesn’t also admit guilt. If this law passes, Michigan will join 35 other states that have such laws. That would make 14 states to go.

If you are a Michigan physician, and would like to lower your Michigan liability rates, complete our free, no-obligation quote request.

Apologies May Prevent Medical Lawsuits
Posted: Jan 28, 2011 1:44 PM CST
From Wlns.com by Stacia Mullaney

“I’m sorry-” it’s a phrase that could soon mean fewer medical malpractice lawsuits. Under a new state bill health care professionals would be allowed to say ‘I’m sorry’ when a procedure goes wrong, without it being an admission of guilt. Doctors say it’s a step in the right direction. We all make mistakes, but when doctors do, it’s not as easy for them to say I’m sorry.

Read the Full Article

Sometimes Life Imitates the Movies

Side note: A Detroit medical malpractice lawyer found a creative way to duck his debt; by dying. Detroit police report that Nicholas Anthony Ianni Jr., 55, was found in his apartment dead from multiple gunshot wounds to the chest. Ianni was an infamous character in the world of medical malpractice insurance since he currently owed more than 23 million in judgments, loans and unpaid claims. Ianni’s involvement with a “shady” offshore medical malpractice insurance company in Bermuda has left no shortage of motives, or suspects.

The Detroit News

Novi — A man found fatally shot in his apartment this week was a controversial medical malpractice attorney who owed at least $23.5 million from court judgments, loans and unpaid claims, court records and interviews show. Nicholas Anthony Ianni Jr., 55, was found Wednesday morning in his apartment near Novi Road and 10 Mile by police conducting a welfare check after one of his business associates hadn’t seen him in days.

A Thursday autopsy found he died from multiple gunshot wounds in the torso.

Novi police would not discuss their investigation, which could involve reviewing Ianni’s business relationships for possible suspects.

“We do not think this was random, but are not ruling anything out and will be checking all kinds of possibilities,” Novi Deputy Chief Thomas Lindberg said.

Court records indicate Ianni was at the center of controversial malpractice insurance policies purchased by some Metro Detroit physicians through an offshore Bermuda-based insurance company, New Millennium, which Ianni owned.

Read the Rest of the Article

Saying ‘sorry’ pays off for doctors

side note: Saying ‘Sorry’ Pays Off for Doctors in Time, Feelings and Medical Malpractice Insurance Premiums: At the University of Michigan Health System, where lawyers and doctors say admitting mistakes up front and offering compensation before being sued have brought about remarkable savings in money, time and feelings, apologizing for errors is no longer taboo.

Associated Press

DETROIT – When a treatment goes wrong at a U.S. hospital, fear of a lawsuit usually means “never daring to say you’re sorry.”

That’s not the way it works at the University of Michigan Health System, where lawyers and doctors say admitting mistakes up front and offering compensation before being sued have brought about remarkable savings in money, time and feelings.

“What we are doing is common decency,” said Richard Boothman, a veteran malpractice defense lawyer and chief risk officer for a health system with 18,000 employees and a $1.5 billion annual budget.

Officials at the University of Michigan say their approach addresses doctor, patient and public concerns. Continue reading