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Judgment errors rank among top reasons for lawsuits against obstetricians
Errors in clinical judgment, miscommunication and technical mistakes are the three top reasons cited for medical liability cases against obstetricians, according to a report. The study, released in June by CRICO Strategies, analyzed the causes behind more than 800 obstetrician-related medical liability cases filed between 2005 and 2009. CRICO Strategies is an international company that provides risk management software and other services to hospitals and medical liability insurers. The cases studied were taken from CRICO's data collection of 120,000 medical liability claims. Clinical judgment error was cited in 77% of the cases. Miscommunication was mentioned in 36% of the cases, and technical error was noted 26% of the time. Other reasons listed were inadequate documentation, administrative failures and ineffective supervision. The three most common allegations within claims were: Delayed treatment of fetal distress. Improper execution of vaginal delivery. [Read more]
Clinical drug trials enter electronic world
Pfizer is conducting what it calls the first-ever all-electronic drug trial, in which patients at home will report outcomes to the company through the Internet. The testing patients' individual physicians will not be hired as investigators. Instead, the patients will report and manage their trial activities to a central physician investigator who will oversee the entire process. The drug being tested, Detrol LA (tolterodine), prescribed for overactive bladder, already has completed a Phase IV, post-market clinical trial and has been on the market for 10 years. But Pfizer wants to repeat the testing in a Web-based, patient-centered model to see if it replicates the results of earlier trials, and whether this process could be used for future trials -- perhaps changing the clinical drug trial process and potentially saving drug companies a lot of money. The Food and Drug Administration has approved Pfizer's electronic study. Pfizer said it hopes to enroll 600 patients from 10 [Read more]
Millions access free Medicare services
Washington -- Nearly one in six patients with traditional Medicare coverage has received preventive care without having to contribute a co-payment or pay a deductible in 2011, according to the Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services. Starting Jan. 1, CMS began waiving out-of-pocket fees for certain preventive services, such as bone-mass measurements, hepatitis B vaccine and tobacco-cessation counseling. Obama administration officials said they believe more patients will seek and receive preventive care because cost barriers to the services have been removed. The program hopefully will save money in the long run by preventing serious illness, they said. Medicare has covered free preventive services for more than 5.5 million patients so far, CMS Administrator Donald M. Berwick, MD, told reporters at Dept. of Health and Human Services headquarters on June 20. CMS has seen an increase in utilization of certain individual services. For instance, the Welcome to Medicare visit, an init [Read more]
Autism screening for all preschoolers
There isn't enough sound, scientific evidence to justify physicians routinely screening young children for autism, a study published online June 13 in Pediatrics concludes. After evaluating literature on the topic, researchers determined that autism screening programs have not been studied in randomized, controlled trials in a way that other community wide screening programs, such as breast cancer screening, have been examined. Autism screening often involves questionnaires. For example, in the commonly used Social Communication Questionnaire, parents answer yes/no questions that help physicians evaluate whether a child may have autism. Study authors said autism screening tests such as these are not accurate enough to justify a populationwide screening program. "That is, they aren't good enough to accurately detect children who have autism or to accurately detect those who don't," said Jan Willem Gorter, MD, PhD, a study author and an associate professor of pediatrics at McMas [Read more]
Stronger anti-smoking laws could save states millions
Tougher tobacco control laws could reduce smoking-related deaths and save more than $1.3 billion in tobacco-associated health care costs in 27 states without broad smoking bans in place, according to a June study by the American Cancer Society Cancer Action Network. The state-by-state analysis looked at the potential public health and economic impact of what the organization considers comprehensive laws that bar smoking in all types of workplaces, restaurants and bars. Twenty-three states and the District of Columbia have such legislation in place. If the remaining 27 states with weaker or no anti-smoking laws expanded their policies, total smoking-related deaths would drop by 624,000 over time, the ACS study found. Over five years, states could save millions in health care costs to treat smoking-related diseases, including $316.1 million for lung cancer, $875.6 million for heart attacks and $42.8 million for strokes. Another $128.3 million could be saved for treatment of smoking [Read more]
Most physicians don't see PAs as major liability risks
The majority of emergency physicians do not believe physician assistants, when properly supervised, pose a higher risk of medical negligence than other health professionals, says a study published in the June issue of the Journal of the American Academy of Physician Assistants. The study, based on a 2009 survey of American College of Emergency Physicians members, found that 67.9% disagreed that PAs are more likely than doctors to cause negligence. The same survey sent to ACEP members in 2004 found comparable results, with 71.6% of doctors saying PAs do not pose increased liability risks. The two surveys were based on 724 responses. The 2009 study showed that 81.8% of doctors disagreed that PAs were more likely than physicians to be sued, a slight decrease from 84.3% in 2004. Few studies have previously examined physicians' perceptions of PAs and their liability risk, said study co-author James Stoehr, a professor with the Midwestern University physician assistant program in Gl [Read more]
Physicians can help curb teen smoking
Physicians who talk with teenage patients about the dangers of smoking can have a significant influence on their attitudes about tobacco use, according to a study in the June issue of Pediatrics. Adolescents whose doctors broach the subject become more knowledgeable about the ill health effects of smoking. Smokers who have such conversations with doctors are less inclined to see themselves still smoking after five years and are more likely to plan to try to quit within six months. Even so, about 57% of surveyed teenagers said their doctors had never offered advice on tobacco use, the study said. "Our results showed that less than half of the students in our study had conversations with their physicians about smoking, and that is really a concern," said Leslie A. Robinson, PhD, a study co-author, associate professor and director of clinical training in the department of psychology at the University of Memphis in Tennessee. "We're hoping [the study] will really encourage more pe [Read more]
Pennsylvania liability lawsuits down for 6th straight year
Medical liability lawsuits in Pennsylvania decreased in 2010 for the sixth consecutive year, a trend officials say is associated with rules created by the state in 2002 to reduce frivolous lawsuits. In 2010, 1,491 medical liability lawsuits were filed in the state, a drop of about 45 from 2009, according to data released online May 18 by the Administrative Office of Pennsylvania Courts. Since 2002, filings of such lawsuits in the state have declined by more than 45%. Philadelphia, which handles the largest court caseload in the state, experienced a nearly 70% decrease. "Pennsylvania's judiciary collaboratively addressed a complex medical malpractice litigation crisis, and the latest figures show the progress made in the last seven years," Pennsylvania Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald D. Castille said in a statement. "One of our fundamental priorities is to assure the Commonwealth's citizens that the legal process will not be abused in malpractice cases. We're very encouraged by [Read more]
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