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Missouri high court upholds damages cap, but another challenge remains

After winning a recent lawsuit challenging the state’s non-economic damages cap, Missouri doctors continue to fight another battle threatening to overturn the recovery limit. The Supreme Court of Missouri ruled April 3 in Sanders v. Ahmed that the state’s non-economic damages cap for medical liability cases was constitutional. The cap, adopted in 1986, impacts cases in which the alleged negligence happened before 2005. The limit was enacted at $350,000 but is now at more than $600,000 due to inflation. The second suit, which the state high court has yet to decide, centers on Missouri’s latest $350,000 award limit. The cap impacts all medical liability lawsuits starting in 2005. A decision in the case,Watts v. Cox, is expected by the summer, said attorneys involved in the case. The court’s analysis of Sanders could benefit physicians’ position in the Watts case that the cap should stand, said Jeffrey Howell, legal counsel for the Missouri State Medical Assn. “Preced ...

Physician gift tracking by drug companies delayed until 2013

Federal requirements for collecting information on gifts and payments to physicians from drug and device manufacturers will not begin until 2013, said a top Centers for Medicare & Medicaid Services official. Data collection was expected to begin in 2012, and the first public transparency reports on relationships between manufacturers and doctors were expected to be released in September 2013. But citing a number of operational issues, acting CMS Administrator Marilyn Tavenner has told Sen. Charles Grassley (R, Iowa) that it would not be possible to begin the information-gathering process this year. The agency instead will issue a final rule this year that implements provisions of the Physician Payments Sunshine Act, which was championed by Grassley and included in the health system reform law, and start collecting data in 2013. A December 2011 proposed rule had generated more than 300 comments from organized medicine, health industry and patient advocacy groups, Tavenner said ...

Diabetes treatment guidelines stress individualized care

The American Diabetes Assn. recommends that physicians take a less prescriptive but more patient-centered approach to managing hyper-glycemic patients with type 2 diabetes. Doctors should focus on patients’ individual needs, preferences and tolerances as well as age and disease progression, say the new guidelines, developed by the ADA and the European Assn. for the Study of Diabetes. The recommendations, published in the April 19 online edition of Diabetes Care, update the two associations’ 2009 guidelines on the subject. Individualized care is key to treating patients with the disease, said Silvio Inzucchi, MD, co-guideline author and a professor of medicine at the Yale School of Medicine in Connecticut. He also is director of the Yale Diabetes Center. “In the older, more infirm patient, a more conservative, less aggressive approach may be best,” Dr. Inzucchi said in an email. “In younger, healthier patients, it may pay to be more rigorous. It all involves clinical ...