Posts tagged as:

emergency medicine

“The California Supreme Court held [in June] that a business has no common law duty to provide automatic defibrillators in anticipation that a customer will experience heart failure while on the premises.” [TortsProf; earlier, and generally]


Town installs traffic cam by hospital emergency room, snags patient rushing in with coronary symptoms. The judge is no help, either. [Marianela Toledo, Florida Watchdog via Fergus Hodgson, PanAm Post]


“Alarm fatigue”

by Walter Olson on May 14, 2013

Trying to order medications for a heart attack victim using electronic medical records, White Coat is frustrated to run into screen after screen preventing him from completing the order without addressing unlikely allergy issues (and thus protecting the hospital from liability):

For those of you who don’t know what alarm fatigue is, think of a car alarm. The first time you hear it going off, you run to your window to see who’s breaking into a car. Maybe you run to the window the second time and the third time, too. By the tenth time the alarm goes off, you’re thinking that the alarm is broken and someone needs to get that fixed. After about thirty false alarms, you’re feeling like going out there and busting up the car yourself – especially if the car alarm wakes you when you’re asleep.

It’s a concept with many applications beyond the emergency room setting, too, product warnings being just the start.

P.S. Dr. Westby Fisher has some related thoughts about the limits of trying to engineer physician responsibility through electronic records design.


Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on February 1, 2013

  • “On Average, Physicians Spend Nearly 11 Percent Of Their 40-Year Careers With An Open, Unresolved Malpractice Claim” [Health Affairs via Pauline Chen, NY Times]
  • SCOTUS lets stand Feds’ “accept Medicare or lose your Social Security” edict [Ilya Shapiro, Cato]
  • Robot surgery: from the Google ads, you might think lawyers are circling [Climateer via Tyler Cowen]
  • New York mandates more aggressive anti-sepsis measures in hospitals, and White Coat thinks it won’t end well [EP Monthly]
  • Shortages of generic FDA-regulated sterile injectables begin to take deadly toll [AP/Worcester Telegram, earlier]
  • Continuing the discussion of electronic medical records from a few days back: as medico-legal documents, EMRs are under pressure to be something other than candid and spontaneous [Kaus] While other patients wait for critical care, ER docs and nurses enter mandatory data fields for whether the infant is a smoker or the flu victim is a fall risk [White Coat]
  • Obamacare part-time-work fiasco “only starting to become news when it hits university professors” [Coyote, David Henderson, earlier]

On July 12 New York Times columnist Jim Dwyer wrote an extensive story about the death of a 12-year-old boy who had been brought to an emergency room with fever and rapid pulse, sent home, and died of septic shock. Lab test results and other indicators of distress allegedly went unheeded, and the boy’s family is represented by Thomas Moore, perhaps the city’s premier medical malpractice lawyer. Some legal blogs had a field day citing Dwyer’s article as an example of flagrant medical malpractice, as they depicted it; other reactions, some gathered in a Dwyer follow-up column, were more mixed.

White Coat, the blog at Emergency Physicians Monthly, has been resistant to the Dwyer-Moore narrative of the case. Its blog posts can be found here,
here, here, and here.


Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on July 13, 2012

  • How’d we get shortages of hospital and community sterile injectables? Check out the role of FDA Good Manufacturing Practice (GMP) regs, warning letters, and resulting plant closures [Tabarrok, with comments controversy; earlier here, here, here, etc.]
  • California orthopedist sues, wins damages against medical society that took action against him based on his testimony for plaintiff in liability case [American Medical News; earlier here, etc.]
  • Can’t have that: medical apology should be opposed because it “can create an emotional connection with an injured patient that makes the patient less likely to ask for compensation.” [Gabriel Teninbaum (Suffolk Law), Boston Globe]
  • Feds’ war on painkillers is bad news for legit patients and docs [Reuters, Mike Riggs/Reason]
  • New federal pilot project in Buffalo will provide concierge-style home care to emergency-department frequent fliers. Spot the unintended consequence [White Coat]
  • Dastardly drug companies? Deconstructing Glaxo SmithKline’s $3 billion settlement [Greg Conko, MPT] More: Beck, Drug and Device Law, on suits over “what are mostly medically valid and beneficial off-label uses”. Paging Ted Frank: “HIPAA’s Vioxx toll” thesis may depend on whether one accepts that the premised Vioxx toll has been established [Stewart Baker, Ted's recent post]
  • U.K.: “Lawyers seizing lion’s share of payouts in NHS negligence cases” [Telegraph]
  • Silver linings in SCOTUS ObamaCare ruling? [Jonathan Adler and Nathaniel Stewart] “DNC Scientists Disprove Existence of Roberts’ Taxon” [Iowahawk humor] Did Ginsburg hint at the court’s direction on the HHS contraception mandate? [Ed Morrissey, Hot Air]

[cross-posted at Cato at Liberty]


Medical roundup

by Walter Olson on April 24, 2012

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That’s what Connecticut plaintiff’s lawyer Craig Yankwitt said on filing a lawsuit against Stamford Hospital’s Tully immediate-care unit for allegedly missing pulmonary embolisms in a Greenwich man who came in complaining of flank pain. [Connecticut Post] White Coat analyzes what it would mean for emergency departments to hold on to patients until any possible life-threatening conditions had been ruled out.

March 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on March 7, 2012

  • Ray LaHood’s forgotten predecessor: “How One Bureaucrat Almost Succeeded in Banning Car Radios” [Mike Riggs, Reason]
  • “Some Recent Nonsense on Freedom of Religion in the Times” [Paul Horwitz, Prawfs]
  • Choice of Ben Stein as speaker for ABA Tech Show raises eyebrows [Derek Bambauer, InfoLaw]
  • “Oblivion video game ‘Abomb” becomes federal lawsuit” [Abnormal Use]
  • Tort causation: “Probability for thee, mere possibility for me” [David Oliver]
  • Washington state says it won’t pay for “unnecessary” Medicaid ER visits. Can you see the unintended consequences coming? [White Coat]
  • Utah says family can’t fundraise for son’s legal defense without permit [Standard-Examiner via Balko]


It actually turned out to lengthen patient stay times in UK emergency rooms, which did not surprise White Coat.

White Coat examines the case of King v. St. Barnabas, in which a New York appellate court approved a suit against first responders who failed in attempts to revive a prison guard who collapsed while playing basketball and was found unresponsive and not breathing. [Emergency Physicians Monthly] A different view: Max Kennerly.

July 7 roundup

by Walter Olson on July 7, 2011

  • Correct result, yet potential for mischief in latest SCOTUS climate ruling [Ilya Shapiro/Cato, my earlier take]
  • Wouldn’t even want to guess: how the Howard Stern show handles sexual harassment training [Hyman]
  • Philadelphia: $21 million award against emergency room handling noncompliant patient [Kennerly]
  • Antitrust assault on Google seems geared to protect competitors more than consumers [Josh Wright]
  • “They knew there was a risk!” Curb your indignation please [Coyote]
  • Theme issue of Reason magazine on failures of criminal justice system is now online;
  • “Why Your New Car Doesn’t Have a Spare Tire” [Sam Kazman, WSJ]


April 4 roundup

by Walter Olson on April 4, 2011

  • Verbal fireworks from Judge Kozinski in Ninth Circuit “stolen valor” case [Above the Law]
  • Measure of artificially contrived scarcity: “NYC Taxi Medallions Approach $1 Million.” Would officials in Washington, D.C. really consider introducing such a destructive system? [Perry, more]
  • Workers’ comp OK’d in case where simulated chicken head blamed for subsequent emotional disability [Lowering the Bar]
  • “NBA referee sues sports writer over tweet” [Siouxsie Law] “Lessons from Dan Snyder’s Libel Suit” [Paul Alan Levy/CL&P, earlier]
  • Litigation rates similar for poor and good nursing homes, researchers find [US News] Effects of medical liability reform in Texas [White Coat, scroll] New York’s Cuomo caves on medical liability plan [Heritage] Sued if you do, sued if you don’t in the emergency room [same]
  • “Federal Government Wants to Bully School Bullies, and Demands School Help” [Doherty, Bader, Popehat, Bernstein] New York law firm launches school-bullying practice [Constitutional Daily]
  • Mass tort settlements: “The market for specious claims” [S. Todd Brown, Buffalo, SSRN]
  • Could Gene McCarthy’s candidacy have survived Arizona elections law? [Trevor Burrus, HuffPo]


Alabama: “A Jefferson County jury has awarded $2.4 million from an emergency physicians group to the mother of a 2-year-old who died after ingesting methadone.” Lawyers said the emergency department failed to take proper steps to rule out drug overdose as a reason for the child’s condition. [AP/WHNT via White Coat]

Plus: A more explanatory news account (h/t commenter John Rohan).


June 28 roundup

by Walter Olson on June 28, 2010

  • Couldn’t sue the bees for stinging, but could get a $1.6 million judgment against the emergency room doc [NJLRA]
  • Eurodoom: “EU to ban selling eggs by dozen” [Telegraph]
  • “Oklahoma’s Unnecessary Law to Ban Citation of Sharia and International Law” [Ku/Opinio Juris, earlier]
  • Shortage of generic anesthetics, and what’s behind it [Throckmorton, Great Zs, earlier]
  • Hardball litigation tactics contribute to bad odor of consumer debt buyers [Felix Salmon]
  • Interview with blogger Carlos Miller (Photography is Not a Crime) [Simon Owens, Bloggasm]
  • Conyers “oil spill” bill would slyly expand litigation chances elsewhere [Drug and Device Law]
  • Prosecutors deploy hate crimes law against… mortgage fraud? [NYT via PoL] 241 inmates serving life sentences claimed the federal homebuyer tax credit [CNBC]


May 22 roundup

by Walter Olson on May 22, 2010

  • No answer at 911? “Florida Verdict May Threaten EMS Availability” [White Coat]
  • New Orleans politico Steve Theriot drops suit seeking identities of online critics [Times-Picayune and more, NYT "Media Decoder", Slabbed, earlier]
  • On a vial of anesthetic: “One patient use only.” Nevada jury finds that warning inadequate to prevent multiple patient use and awards $500 million in punitives [Carter at Point of Law, Abnormal Use] More: Ted at PoL.
  • Floodgates to litigation? “Parent Can Sue Ex for Turning Children Against Him” [NJLJ]
  • Lawyer who isn’t honest is a threat to the social order: noted Allentown, Pa. attorney gets 6 1/2 years for fraud [Legal Intelligencer, earlier]
  • “Another European Prosecution for Insulting Religion” [Volokh; pop star Dorota Rabczewska, Poland]
  • A lawyer’s advice: try to get those Rand Paul types off your jury [Turkewitz]
  • If SEIU craves respectability, maybe it shouldn’t send mobs to besiege bank execs at their homes [Nina Easton, Fortune, cross-posted from Cato at Liberty; related from PoL last year; more from Big Journalism including role of D.C. police, but note denials on last point]


A bill in the California legislature held out hope for encouraging wider adoption of the lifesaving devices, but couldn’t make it past the Litigation Lobby. [John Frith, California Civil Justice Blog]


“Plenty, if you ask the people most familiar with the situation, the emergency physicians themselves.” [KevinMD, Emergency Physicians Monthly, White Coat, WSJ Law Blog] Relatedly: “Just to be sure: an ER slippery slope” [MedRants, WhiteCoat] And yesterday, from the AP.