"The high costs of healthcare and malpractice premiums are a result of frivolous lawsuits filed against us." This is a common refrain from the Ohio State Medical Association and Ohio Hospital Association, but this notion is essentially nonsense. Over the last 25 years, claims paid out from medical malpractice lawsuits have declined by over half. This is a direct result of the "tort reform" effort that has rendered it extremely difficult to justify bringing a medical claim against a doctor, especially if the injured patient has not suffered a permanent, disabling, and/or catastrophic injury. Despite consistently limiting a patient's access to justice in the courts his or her injuries, the health insurance industry continues to point the finger at lawsuits as being the problem.
Over 8,000 women were victims of a rogue gynecologist at Johns Hopkins who secretly took sexually explicit pictures and videos of his patients' during his examinations. Dr. Nikita Levy, a gynecologist who began practicing at Johns Hopkins in 1988, had been photographing his patients using hidden cameras in his exam room, including some he carried with him in the form of a pen. These patients filed a class action lawsuit, which later settled for $190 million, all of which was to compensate these women for the psychological trauma they experienced knowing Dr. Levy violated their trust when they were at their most vulnerable.
One of the toughest things we have to deal with as trial lawyers is the misconception that all lawsuits are frivolous. The hallmark example jurors often point to is the McDonald's coffee lawsuit. We spend a great deal of time at the beginning of every trial educating jurors about the case and how what they have heard about the case is likely not accurate. Our firm recently came across an interesting, funny, and informative video that does a great job of presenting the truth about that lawsuit, which can be seen here. If you feel inclined to gain a deeper understanding of the lawsuit, HBO produced an informative in-depth documentary about the case.
Earlier this week, Gerry Leeseberg testified in front of the Ohio House of Representatives Judiciary Committee against House Bill 559. H.B. 559 is proposed legislation designed to provide even more protections to negligent doctors and hospitals. Specifically, Gerry addressed two provisions of the bill - expanding the apology statute and reducing "shotgun" lawsuits.
A disturbing study conducted by researchers analyzing paid malpractice claims using the National Practitioner Data Bank reveals that doctors who get sued once, are twice as likely to have another claim made against them. That percentage continues to grow with each and every claim made after that: four times as likely for one who had four claims and 12 times more likely for a provider with 6 or more claims made against them.
Have you ever called a customer service number trying to find out the answer to a question only to be transferred to ten different departments and spending 2 hours on what was supposed to be a 5 minute phone call? Well, this process may become the norm for patients seeking to obtain their medical records depending on the Ohio Supreme Court's decision in Griffith v. Aultman Hospital.