“A Colorado man, despite acknowledging that he’s lucky to be alive after being trapped in a submerged car, has filed an intent to sue his rescuers for half a million dollars.” Roy Ortiz says “he needs help paying medical bills,” and his attorney Ed Ferszt adds, perhaps not entirely helpfully, “It’s unfortunate to have to try and cast liability and responsibility for this act of God on the men and women who risked their own lives.” [ABC, CBS Denver, The Denver Channel, Broomfield Enterprise]
- Defense medico-legal expert sees 1,000+ cases a year, testimony infuriates NYC judge [Eric Turkewitz: first, second, third, overview posts]
- More commentary on Supreme Court’s generic drug pre-emption case, Mutual v. Bartlett [James Beck, more, Michael Krauss, earlier]
- New JAMA paper, “The Looming Threat of Liability for Accountable Care Organizations and What to Do About It” [Bill of Health]
- “Obamacare and Activist State Courts Drive Up Health Plan Costs” [Hans Bader, CEI “Open Market”]
- New York: emergency medical technicians protected by sovereign immunity principles [Alex Stein, Bill of Health]
- “A New FDA for the Age of Personalized, Molecular Medicine” [Peter Huber, Manhattan Institute via Alex Tabarrok]
- From an unexpected source? Left-leaning Center for American Progress publishes report on reducing cost of defensive medicine by Ezekiel Emanuel et al. Meanwhile, trial lawyers trumpet study of veterans’ hospitals they say undercuts defensive medicine case [client-recruitment site AboutLawsuits.com] And in the UK: “13,000 died needlessly at 14 worst NHS trusts” [Telegraph]
EPA-mandated diesel-engine governor shuts down ambulance carrying patient in cardiac arrest to emergency room. [WTTG; Washington, D.C.] The D.C. fire union says emissions-control engine governors, the result of an EPA mandate, have shut down rescue vehicles during missions at least three times since August. Following strenuous protests from rescue squads around the country, EPA last May waived the application of the rules for fire trucks and ambulances, but D.C. is apparently stuck with vehicles acquired before the waiver.
After all, what if something should go wrong? Following a resident’s death, a California senior facility defends its “protocol” of ordering nurses to stand by for rescue personnel rather than perform CPR themselves [L.A. Times]
More: Plenty of pushback from readers, including warnings that CPR is not necessarily an appropriate or desired intervention in the resident’s situation, even in an independent-living arrangement in the absence of a DNR (do not resuscitate) order. The resident’s family has expressed satisfaction with the senior facility’s actions and says it has no plans to sue. More: ABA Journal, White Coat.
“The family of a man shot and killed by his neighbor in Skagit County can proceed to trial on claims that the county’s emergency communications center mishandled its response to his panicked 911 call, Washington’s Supreme Court ruled.” According to his family, a 911 operator told William Munich that help was on the way but did not code the call as an emergency; a sheriff’s deputy showed up 18 minutes later, by which time Munich had been shot by the irate neighbor. “I am concerned the majority’s decision will put unwarranted pressure on every statement made by 911 operators, straining communications that depend on the free flow of information,” wrote dissenting Justice James Johnson. [KOMO; Munich (Gayle) v. Skagit Emergency Communications Center, holding, dissent (wrong link fixed now); background on Washington’s unusual approach to sovereign immunity]
P.S. Another Washington sovereign liability case of interest: Robb v. City of Seattle, “Whether the city of Seattle may be liable in an action for wrongful death brought by the survivor of a murder victim based on the failure of police to confiscate ammunition while detaining the murderer for questioning just before the murder occurred.” [Temple of Justice]
The director of Orange County, N.C. emergency services had terminated the squad following complaints of unprofessionalism from other emergency responders, and it proceeded to sue. “The lawsuit, filed in federal court, claimed to be a class-action lawsuit for all the citizens of Orange County and those who transit through Orange County, but U.S. District Judge William J. Osteen Jr. wrote in his opinion that the rescue squad lacked standing to bring a class action lawsuit.” [Herald-Sun; background, Daily Tar Heel]
- Reason TV interviews Richard Epstein;
- On the SEC’s big new “insider trading” sweep [Ribstein, Bainbridge, Lambert, Salmon, more Ribstein]
- Losing = winning? Ambitious claim for fees in environmental case [California Civil Justice, scroll]
- “Unintended consequences department: canceled flights” [Ted at PoL] And check out Ted’s new TSA Abuse Blog, on one of the hottest issues of the moment. More on that from Popehat and Simple Justice;
- H.R. 1408, the Inclusive Home Design Act, would compel handicap accessibility in private home design, yet another dreadful idea from Rep. Jan Schakowsky of CPSIA fame [AmendTheCPSIA]
- “This place would be a shoplifter’s paradise (and a liability insurance abuser’s motherlode) in the United States, but we were in Japan, where they don’t seem to worry as much about that kind of thing.” [Mark Frauenfelder, BoingBoing, on the Showa Kan museum of everyday midcentury life in Takayama]
- UK: “I moved out for decorators and squatters took over my house” [Evening Standard]
- From the ruins of Pompeii, a reflection on government and disaster relief [Dum Spiro Spero]
“Health and safety regulations which burden Britain and lead to good samaritans facing prosecution are to be swept away in a blitz on ‘compensation culture'”. Among the measures are rollbacks of liability for volunteers, emergency service responders and school recreation. “A coalition source said: ‘What we are determined to see is a great extension of personal freedom, at the same times as a rolling back both of the state and the power of the courts.'” [Telegraph]
It’s enough to exasperate WhiteCoatRants (Oct. 20):
…Utter the terms “chest pain” and “trouble breathing” in the same sentence and with some doctors you’re getting a chest CT. It doesn’t matter that you have a cough, runny nose, that the chest pain is burning and only occurs when you cough, or that half the people in town have influenza because they didn’t get their flu shots. Even if bronchitis is the clinical diagnosis, there is still a 0.0001% chance that you could have a pulmonary embolism along with your bronchitis and we don’t want to miss it, because if we do, it may cause you to die and result in a lawsuit against the physician. Some doctors aren’t willing to take even the 1 in 1,000,000 chance that they’ll be sued. …
If a doctor doesn’t get every conceivable test on a patient and there is a bad outcome, then the doctor gets smacked with a lawsuit because the doctor didn’t do enough. Unless something changes, more and more patients coming to the emergency department will get megaworkups so nothing gets “missed.”
Then I read that some pompous plaintiff’s attorney said somewhere that “defensive medicine” was a myth. His theory was that if doctors do an extra test that catches a disease while it’s still treatable, then it is “good medicine,” not “defensive medicine.” Either he doesn’t get it because he is ignorant or he doesn’t get it because that attitude helps him afford his chalet in the Swiss Alps.
Medicine will never be perfect.
While on the subject, prominent health economist Uwe Reinhardt has cited our medical liability system as an important reason costs are significantly higher in the U.S. than elsewhere (PoL, Nov. 16). And KevinMD’s excellent section on defensive medicine has numerous posts in recent months we still haven’t gotten around to linking, including: guest take by “Dr. SSS” on the “two most expensive words in medicine” (“Sometimes it is difficult for me to understand if I am really treating myself or the patient.”); background on the $210 billion estimate that has been bandied about; E.R. visit + chest pains = obligatory catheterization?; quote from PandaBearMD (“Why risk our own money when we can use somebody else’s to protect us, even if it costs millions?”; a British visitor’s view of immobilization collars; don’t put the doc’s name on the chart!; and more reader reactions (“even if a patient has a good relationship with a physician and is willing to forgo various diagnostic tests, the family can decide to sue later if there is a bad outcome. … it is far easier to just order the test”)