Tag Archives: Medical malpractice

A physician shortage is a complex concept with many moving variables

Among healthcare industry professionals, a national physician shortage is frequently debated. The rising costs of education and medical malpractice premiums are frequent scapegoats. The Illinois physician community is one where young doctors are asked whether they will remain and practice or seek a in a nearby state, something easier to do with the multi-stateIllinois License licensure compact.

Some perceive Chicago’s market as being saturated with too many doctors while rural residents complain of shortages of doctors and are willing to look for doctors who can perform certain tasks by using telemedicine (mobile healthcare). Meanwhile, Southern Illinois University is addressing the physician job market downstate, the reports of which may be noteworthy to young physicians in Chicago and all over Illinois.

One thing young doctors may agree on is the perceived medical malpractice policy problems.

Rising malpractice premiums in Illinois are a concern to many and when surveyed, young physicians may be likely to agree that they share concerned about rising costs of practice along with school loans and a competitive physician marketplace in the Chicago area. However, agreeing with shared concerns alone is not likely the primary factor in deciding where to practice medicine.

A physician market saturation may drive new graduates to find jobs in other areas.

If young doctors cannot find jobs in Illinois, they may start looking to other states in need of young doctors. Those who work in physician talent recruiting and staffing may suggest that information about physician job opportunities may not be as easy to find compared to a professional working in accounting who can easily find jobs using sites like Google and Craigslist.

As senior physicians retire, there are new opportunities to join and grow with some very reputable medical groups all over Illinois, where practices are managed well, and their doctors are quite stable and satisfied with their careers.

Many young physicians leaving Illinois are returning to their home states.

Nowhere in the Midwest can you find as many medical schools as you will in the State of Illinois. Many to-be physicians come to Illinois for school and are open to many opportunities. Some say from the first day of school that they want to graduate and move back to their home state to practice where they know people in their communities. Others are open to whatever prospects may be attractive at the time. With the growth smaller Midwestern cities and states, the opportunities back in young physicians’ home towns may be affecting the rate of young doctors leaving Illinois and returning home early in their career.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

 

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Preventing medical malpractice claims with smart strategies

Physicians and their patients all make their best efforts to exchange information to ensure great patient care. At points in the healthcare process, there can be mistakes leading to dissatisfied patients. In many cases, miscommunication and errors can be corrected with little harm done. In other instances, malpractice complaints are filed. Everyone involved in the patient care process would prefer to avoid a negative incident or malpractice complaint. Being diligent in assuring good patient care involves adopting strategies in reducing risks of medical mistake.

In a recent article published in Medical Economics, several doctors and healthcare professionals shared their perspectives on improving patient care, communication and documentation, ideally reducing malpractice lawsuits.[i]

The following is a summary of 5 strategies to reduce malpractice lawsuit threats:

Proper documentation means documenting everything

“Every doctor is taught that if you didn’t put it in the chart, you didn’t do it.[ii]” In error in noting a patient’s chart begs the question of how to correct the typo or wrong word choices. The best practice is to make a separate notation which you identify and incorporate by reference in the original notation. Changing or deleting an error can lead to trouble.

Noting everything in the patient’s chart should also include any communication with patients and family members. Ask them to explain the information back to you to make sure they understand. Make a note in the chart describing exactly how the communication took place. If you note everything with the sense that any other physician could step into patient care without missing a beat, you are engaging in a positive habit that should help avoid medical mistakes and malpractice claims.

Transparency with patients and facilitating access to charts and notes

Does your physician share access to notes and charts? Would you know how to read and interpret those notes if they were made available to you as a patient? Transparency in healthcare services allows patients and their physicians to all understand the reason and course of care. A patient may elect to seek another medical opinion and if they do, the more information you share with them as the primary physician, the better you may be protected from later claims of medical mistake or malpractice. It may take longer to create notes that others can understand, but the benefit in transparency and documentation makes this a best practice.

Expressing empathy when sharing information with patients

When a physician discovers a medical error, they may face tough decisions in communicating errors with patients and their families. While the natural inclination may to apologize and express remorse for a medical mistake, too many physicians are worried about an admission of error which could lead to a malpractice claim. While contrition may be, appropriate and appease concerned patients and families in many instances, there may be times your apology is insufficient to resolve dissatisfaction.

Illinois is one of many states with “sorry laws” protecting physicians from exposure in malpractice cases for expressing apologies and remorse to patients and families. The form of an apology should be sincere and honest. You can effectively express empathy without saying too much that may confuse or give the patient and family the wrong idea. Apologies when due, can be an appropriate best practice. Notwithstanding, being aware of hospital administration and policies that may affect your patient communications is important.

Managing the risks associated with electronic health records

The intended purpose of electronic health records (EHRs) is to solve information and documentation concerns. The portability and access to EHRs should help prevent medical mistakes and malpractice claims. Nevertheless, there are EHR pitfalls to avoid, such as using auto-populating fields in the forms and copying and pasting. Drop down menu errors can also be a problem and cause the wrong information to be populated in the EHRs, which can lead to medical mistakes and malpractice. Imagine another physician relies on wrong information in a patient’s EHRs and misses a drug allergy or gives a patient wrong dose of medications.

Maintaining positive relationships with patients and their family

Reducing uncertainty and increasing understanding is good for physician-patient communication and care. When family members are involved, it is a good practice to let them know what is happening in the care process and what issues may arise and affect the patient’s health. Showing the patient and their family attention and explanation of what is happen and what is anticipated in patient care may give the patient and family solace in knowing their concerns are important and well-attended. Being realistic and transparent is always a best practice to increase understanding and prevent medical mistakes and malpractice claims.

Adding these strategies to your practice

Since so much documentation is required in healthcare, it should be reasonably simple to include these proactive patient care strategies to any healthcare practice. Adding reminders to engage in these tasks is helpful in adopting them as positive habits in practice. Health law, litigation and licensing attorney, Michael V. Favia works with patients, physicians and healthcare organizations to identify and manage risks and to prevent and resolve conflicts when they arise. An audit of a physicians practice can lead to solutions in preventing malpractice.

About us: Michael V. Favia & Associates, P.C. is a health law and litigation firm in Chicago representing individuals, healthcare professionals and organizations with civil legal matters as well as professional licensing and regulation.

Chicago health law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia and his associates in several locations and disciplines, advise and represent private individuals as well as healthcare professionals in all types of litigation and administrative matters involving licensing and regulatory agencies.

Michael V. Favia and Associates, P.C. represents individual physicians and health care organizations in the Chicago area with a variety of legal matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. Michael V. Favia & Associates is available at (773) 631-4580. Please visit www.favialawfirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter. You can also review endorsements and recommendations for Michael V. Favia on his Avvo.com profile and on LinkedIn.

 

[i] Medical Economics, 5 strategies to reduce malpractice lawsuit threats, By Liz Seegert, Nov. 10, 2016.

[ii] See HNi above.

On-duty emergency physicians are liable for damages despite the Good Samaritan Act

"To identify the most overlooked risks to physicians, Medical Economics asked several thought leaders to share their insight into strategies for protecting office-based practices."

In Illinois, the Good Samaritan Act protects individuals giving instructions for aid, or rendering aid to others in emergencies, from civil liability for damages resulting in the process. Simply stated, a bystander or passerby who sees someone with an injury or emergency condition does not have a legal duty to stop and give general or medical aid. Moreover, a passerby who stops to assist and render some type of aid, cannot be sued and found liable for civil damages if the endangered individual suffers and injury or dies in the process. The purpose of the Good Samaritan Act is to allow people to try to save a choking victim without worrying about a wrongful death suit if they are not successful.

The Good Samaritan Act includes a physician exemption from civil liability for emergency care. The statute states in pertinent part: “Any person licensed under the Medical Practice Act of 1987 or any person licensed to practice the treatment of human ailments in any other state or territory of the United States who, in good faith, provides emergency care without fee to a person, shall not, as a result of his or her acts or omissions, except willful or wanton misconduct on the part of the person, in providing the care, be liable for civil damages.[i]

While the language of the statute is clear, there question has arisen, what happens when the emergency care physician is not providing health care for a direct fee, but rather works as an on-duty physician.

The Illinois Supreme Court holds that the Good Samaritan Act does not shield on-duty physicians who do not bill for their services, and on-duty physicians have the same standard of care regardless of whether they bill for their services. The issue arose in a case involving an on-duty emergency room physician, responding to a “code blue” for a patient with trouble breathing and swallowing. The doctor intubated the patient and opened the airway, and nevertheless the patient experienced permanent brain damage.[ii] The doctor working as an emergency room physician when the “code blue” was called for a patient on another floor of the hospital, whom the doctor had never previously met or treated.

The First District Illinois Appellate Court held in the case, the emergency room physician responding to the “code blue” for a hospital patient, the immunity from liability under the Good Samaritan Act did not apply because the doctor’s services were not performed “without fee” where the doctor was paid to work in the emergency room.[iii]

If the facts had been different, this court could have applied the Good Samaritan Act. Assume a different set of facts where the doctor was not on-duty, working as an emergency physician at the time he responded to the “code blue” for the patient on another floor, separate from the emergency room. Assume the same treatment was given, the doctor intubated the patient, who experienced permanent brain damage, there would have been a more likely chance the doctor may have been able to be clear of civil liability under the Good Samaritan Act.

As new events and occurrences give rise to litigation over health care liability, the courts will decide those cases and the health care law and litigation firm of Michael V. Favia and Associates will share those holdings.

Michael V. Favia & Associates are available to assist with analysis and advice on all aspects of physician practice and litigation matters. With offices conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

 

[i] Illinois Good Samaritan Act, Sec. 25 Physicians, 745 ILCS 49/25

[ii] Beckers Hospital Review, Illinois Supreme Court: Good Samaritan Act Doesn’t Shield On-Duty Emergency Physicians, by Ayla Ellison, Apr. 29, 2014.

[iii] Home Star Bank & Financial Services v. Emergency Care & Health Organization, Ltd., 2012 IL App (1st) 112321

Avoiding the pitfalls of state medical review board hearings on physician negligence or malpractice

Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants 5Every healthcare professional should take medical board hearings seriously. The individuals who sit on medical boards are charged with maintaining the high standards of conduct and practice required by the State of Illinois and its people who deserve quality health care. When patients believe that they received inadequate care, believe the physician was negligent, made an egregious medical mistake, or committed medical malpractice, that patient has every right to file a complaint with the state medical board. In many instances, patients file complaints on their own, without consulting with a knowledgeable professional about the merits of their complaint. Meritorious or not, the state medical board has a legal duty to follow up and investigate the claims of misconduct, even if the majority are summarily dismissed.

Taking prompt action is important if a letter of inquiry is received from a state medical board.

Just has the state medical board has a duty to investigate complaints, the health care provider has a duty to cooperate and respond to the regulatory agency, such as the medical board, and provide the answers and documentation required to complete the investigative process. The absolutely worst thing a health care professional can do is ignore the medical board. Failure to respond to the initial letter you receive from the state medical board can be discipline-worthy. In a recent article on point, a representative of the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Responsibility (IDFPR) stated, “Some physicians don’t reply or reply late. But this is your livelihood, your career.[i]

The failure to respond to a state medical board inquiry letter may set the stage for a formal medical board hearing, if there is not a hearing scheduled by the board to otherwise take action on the result of the initial investigation.

There are common pitfalls to avoid when preparing for a medical board hearing.

At the medical board hearing there are pitfalls to avoid, ensuring best results. Representing yourself is a mistake and may be regrettable. Providing inadequate documentation and losing, your manners and candor can also hurt your case and credibility in a hearing before the medical board.

When doctors represent themselves before the medical board at a conduct hearing, they run the risk of causing more harm and difficulty than had they hired a health law attorney to represent them. Your attorney will consider the facts you represent to them in light of the hearing process and are best able to succinctly provide facts and evidence to the board without being overtly defensive or offering more information than necessary to complete the hearing investigation. A health care professional facing a conduct hearing should consult with and hire a private attorney specifically experienced in health care and medical malpractice.

State medical boards often ask for documentation of specific incidents and reports on patient care to assist them in reviewing the complaint against the physician. Even if there is a general request to submit all documentation supporting the individual’s responses to questions in the inquiry, more documentation is always better. It is preferable to show diligence through multiple documented sources than to appear to lack the necessary written documents to support a physician’s assertions and responses to a complaint.

Certainly, it is important not to act aggressively or otherwise emotionally disconnected before a medical review hearing board of professionals expecting professional decorum from the doctor subject of the investigation. People whom generally over act or raise their voice or behave offensively, are seen as less credible and possibly untrustworthy. Remaining calm and patient with the review board is important to establishing credibility, which is important. Candor before the board is another reason it is important to hire a lawyer for representation before the board.

Michael V. Favia & Associates and the Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants advise and represent health care professionals with licensing and professional regulatory matters, including hearings before state medical review boards.

Michael V. Favia & Associates offices are conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations; you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates professional licensing work, please visit www.IL-Licensing.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

 

[i] Medscape Business of Medicine, 4 Things Not to Do at a Medical Board Hearing, by Anne Finger, MA, Mar. 13, 2014.

Examples of personal injury, workers compensation and medical malpractice cases

In this article we focus on the details of personal injury practice.

In this article we focus on the details of personal injury practice.

When someone we know is injured and it was not their fault, we often think of hiring a lawyer to get things put back in place where they were before and be compensated for pain and suffering. There are several elements that make up an individual’s damages when they are injured. Proving injuries and damages may be a complex task best suited for an experienced personal injury attorney. When most non-lawyers are asked for a referral to an attorney, they might first think of anyone they know in the practice of law. Others might know several lawyers and appreciate they work in a variety of practice areas. To avoid confusion and help people know what it really means to practice a certain area of law, it makes sense to offer some details and examples of the type of cases an attorney may manage. In this article we focus on the details of personal injury practice.

Types of personal injuries and several sources of their possible causes

Children’s injuries are often accidents resulting from curiosity and inexperience as well as every other danger present in their world. A child riding a bike might inadvertently cross the path of a car backing from a driveway or passing on a roadway. Pedestrian and bicycle accidents are common among children and adults. When a minor child causes an accident, parents may also be liable for damages to the injured person. Another injury to children might be a dog bite. Children might be curious around dogs and put themselves into situations where a dog is inadvertently provoked or scared and bites the child causing injury involving a hospital visit, shots and potential scarring.

Neck, back and spinal cord injuries are common in automobile and motorcycle accidents. In rear-end collisions the person hit by another car, for example, may be shaken and have minor surface injuries. When there are no broken bones most people assume they are just shaken and upset. The next day or two can involve whiplash symptoms and pain in the neck or back. A chiropractor may take x-rays to treat neck and back injuries. It can take some time for an injured person to return to normal, if at all. Many times an injured motorist seeks treatment with the chiropractor or a physical therapist to conclusion before the law firm seeks to settle with the insurance company of the person at fault for the accident.

Bone fractures, dislocations and amputations can result from a product that fails and causes injury due to its defective design, construction or use. If a camping stove, for example, somehow explodes causing injury to the user, there could be a human operator error problem as well as a design or construction defect. In many cases, the manufacturer of a faulty or dangerous product is strictly liable for injuries suffered by users. Damages that plaintiffs receive can compensate them for their actual expenses and hospital bills as well as pain and suffering; a plaintiff might recover additional damages in certain circumstances. Product defect and liability cases can also result in manufacturers placing warning labels and notifying users of potentially dangerous conditions. These lawsuits are complex and take considerable time but may lead to important outcomes.

Chemical and burn injuries can happen around construction and industrial work and accidents. The injuries sustained around worksites can be an employee’s fault as well as that of management, in the event they failed to keep workers safe from known dangers or failed to properly train or warn workers. When personal injuries happen on the job a worker’s compensation case may be filed with the employee’s workers compensation insurer. The injuries resulting from chemical burns can be permanent and the employee may be compensated for the permanence of their injuries.

Brain damage and neurological injuries are possible in slip, fall and trip cases, occurring at home or at a place of business or in public. If a grocery store patron slips and falls due to the store management’s failure to clean or warn of a slippery or dangerous floor, the shopper could suffer a concussion from hitting their head on a display case during a fall. Traumatic brain injuries can are complex and their care and treatment can take considerable time and effort. The long-term effects of neurological injuries and issues are currently active areas of study and as more information is learned about long-term effects, the better personal injury lawyers are able to represent their clients in working with insurance companies involved in settling or litigating slip, fall and trip cases.

Wrongful death is an injury that cannot be healed, only compensated. The compensation involved is often paid to the decedent’s estate and might need to cover the cost of burial and medical bills incurred in trying to save the individual’s life. A wrongful death lawsuit might involve a lawsuit for medical or hospital malpractice or mistake. Malpractice cases are unique compared to other personal injury cases. Sometimes during the routine care of a patient, there is a death. Not all deaths are due to a doctor or hospital’s wrong conduct. However, when the level of care falls below certain standards, the insurance company may settle with the family of the deceased.  There are values to all types of injuries and losses.

The law firm of Michael V. Favia & Associates works with injured clients in traditional personal injury cases, worker’s compensation cases, malpractice cases in all the scenarios described in this article. With a vast healthcare professional network of doctors and experts, Favia and his team can help Chicago area individuals and their families recover from injuries and get back to daily life.

Michael V. Favia & Associates’ offices are conveniently located in the Chicago Loop, Northwest side and suburban meeting locations, you can schedule a discrete meeting with an attorney at your convenience and discretion. For more about Michael V. Favia & Associates’ professional licensing work, please visit www.FaviaLawFirm.com and feel free to “Like” the firm on Facebook and “Follow” the firm on Twitter.

Medical Malpractice Prosecution and Defense with Michael V. Favia, J.D.

An overview of the legal and factual issues involved in medical malpractice prosecution and defense.

An overview of the legal and factual issues involved in medical malpractice prosecution and defense.

The Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants is a group of highly experienced attorneys and investigators who represent and defend licensed professionals. The licensing consultants interviewed in this monthly program, previously worked for the Illinois Department of Professional Regulation, and will represent and/or defend licensed professionals in cases involving the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional Regulation, Illinois Department of Public Aid and Illinois Department of Public Health.

If you are outside the State of Illinois, the Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants have active of counsel relationships with a few major law firms, with offices in several states, so please reach out for assistance, even if you are not located in the State of Illinois.

Topics covered in this 30-minute podcast:

  • Introducing Michael V. Favia
  • How is medical malpractice unique compared to personal injuries or negligence?
  • What are some common events giving rise to a medical malpractice case?
  • What are the elements necessary to prove or defend a medical malpractice action?
  • How does an attorney litigate or resolve a medical malpractice claim, what is typical protocol?

CLICK HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST

Michael V. Favia is a former Asst. Illinois Attorney General and the Chief Prosecutor for the Illinois Dept. of Professional Regulation (IDPR), now known as the Illinois Dept. of Professional and Financial Regulation (IDFPR). Favia is the owner of a Professional Licensing Consulting Company where he and affiliated former prosecutors, investigators and professional licensing board members assist licensed professionals in their business, regulatory and IDFPR related matters.

Visit our Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants website for more information. You may also contact Michael V. Favia for more information by calling  (773) 631-4580 and by e-mail at favia@lawyer.com.

Podcast: Medical Malpractice and Professional Licensing Issues with Michael Favia

Healthcare law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia recently spoke at a national audience of medical malpractice attorneys on professional licensing issues that can affect their clients.

Healthcare law and litigation attorney Michael V. Favia recently spoke to a national audience of medical malpractice attorneys on professional licensing issues that can affect their clients. He shares similar information on this podcast considering medical malpractice and professional licensing. 

The Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants is a group of highly experienced attorneys and investigators who previously worked for the I.D.P.R. will represent and/or defend licensed    professionals in cases involving the Illinois Department of Financial and Professional            Regulation, Illinois Department of Public Aid and Illinois Department of Public Health. In this monthly podcast series our attorneys and consultants will share news, tips and resources.

CLICK/TAP HERE TO LISTEN TO THE PODCAST ANYTIME

Topics covered in this 30 minute program:

  • Introducing Michael Favia and his experience in medical malpractice and how it connects to professional licensing;
  • The potential licensing issues doctors face when medical malpractice cases are settled;
  • About National Practitioner Data Bank and how it can that affect licensed physicians and healthcare professionals;
  • How medical malpractice attorneys work with licensing consultants to better serve healthcare professional clients;
  • Industry trends in healthcare and licensing that of which our listeners should be aware.

Michael V. Favia He is a former Asst. Illinois Attorney General and the Chief Prosecutor for the Illinois Dept. of Professional Regulation (IDPR), now known as the Illinois Dept. of Professional and Financial Regulation (IDFPR). Favia is the owner of a Professional Licensing Consulting Company where he and affiliated former prosecutors, investigators and professional licensing board members assist licensed professionals in their business, regulatory and IDFPR related matters.

Visit our Illinois Professional Licensing Consultants website for more information. You may also contact Michael V. Favia for more information by e-mail at favia@lawyer.com or dial (773) 631-4580.