- Californians to Vote on Revising Caps on Medical Malpractice Judgments(Protect Patients Blog).In November, voters in California will decide whether to adjust the damage caps on medical malpractice judgments for patients injured by medical error. As the author of this article points out, “the argument in favor of correcting a gross injustice is complicated by tangential medical oversight measures that have been included in the ballot proposition.”
California’s Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) – which was passed 39 years ago – was designed to address a perceived “malpractice insurance crisis” that resulted in higher insurance premiums and drove doctors out of the state. Under MICRA medical malpractice damages were capped at $250,000, without being indexed to inflation. If it had been inflation-indexed, the current cap would be $1.1 million.
Last month, the advocacy organization Consumer Watchdog reported that the medical malpractice insurance industry and hospitals are subsidizing a campaign to defeat Proposition 46, which seeks to adjust the state’s damage cap, require doctors to check the state’s prescription drug database before prescribing certain addictive drugs to new patients, and require random drug and alcohol testing of doctors. According to Consumer Watchdog, the medical malpractice insurance industry and hospitals have already spent more than $27 million to oppose Proposition 46.
- Chicago and 2 California Counties Sue Over Marketing of Painkillers. (The New York Times). The City of Chicago and two California counties have filed two separate lawsuits that alleging that “aggressive marketing” by five companies has “fueled an epidemic of addiction and cost taxpayers millions of dollars in insurance claims and other health care costs.” According to the article, the Chicago lawsuit estimates that about 1,100 emergency room visits in the city in 2009 are attributed to opioid abuse and overdose, with the city paying $9.5 million in insurance claims for prescriptions since 2008 and much more in related health care costs.
- OSHA Sanctions Chicago Company With $325,700 in Fines for Safety Violations (Workers Compensation Law Blog). Chicago manufacturer A. Finkl & Sons Co. has been cited by the U.S. Department of Labor’s Occupational Safety and Health Administration has cited with 26 safety violations at the company’s Chicago facility, including two willful violations that involve failing to provide fall protection around open pits and rectify multiple hazards found in crane inspections. The potential penalties total $352,700. According to this article, OSHA initiated an inspection in February after receiving a complaint that cranes had malfunctioning hoisting brakes and powered industrial trucks were being operated by untrained workers.
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