Patients and Families Satisfied with Attorney Representation

Communication and Resolution Programs are a common part of medical malpractice today as hospitals and other medical facilities are trying to reduce lawsuits and payouts. If your loved one was hurt because of care that didn’t meet standards, you may be asked to participate in a Communication and Resolution Programs by the medical facility. Understanding your options and what a Communication and Resolution Program does can help you make a decision to start to move forward after the loss of a loved one.

What are Communication and Resolution Programs?

Initially started in the University of Michigan’s health system, CRPs have become a popular way for medical facilities and staff to minimize the damage of a medical malpractice lawsuit. Communication and resolution programs (CRPs) are used by hospitals, nursing homes and other medical facilities after an adverse event that may be medical malpractice has occurred to open lines of communication between the patient, family of the patient, and medical staff. Sometimes CRPs help medical facilities and staff can take the place of a medical malpractice lawsuit or occur before a lawsuit occurs.

Are CRPs good for patients and families?

As with most questions, it depends on the unique situation and what happens in the CRP. Having an attorney in a communication process with you after medical malpractice may have occurred can help you make more informed decisions about the CRP process and whether or not it would benefit you and your family. Many times the CRP process helps families heal after the loss of a loved one because of a medical mistake—but they may not help the family recover financially.

Are lawyers useful in CRPs?

A new study from the Journal of American Medicine Association found that nearly 88% of all patients and families thought having an attorney with them was useful during discussions with hospitals in communication and resolution programs after an event that may have been medical malpractice. What’s more is 81% of patients and families who weren’t represented during the process felt that they should have sought representation. Take it from people who have gone through the process—going it alone isn’t easy, even if the CRP is intended to be helpful to patients and families.

Attorneys can help in a CRP by making sure your voice is heard and acting as a barrier between you and the medical facility and their staff. If the medical facility makes an offer for monetary reconciliation during the CRP, a attorney can help you decide if it’s fair or if you should pursue other legal action.

What should I do if the medical facility asks to do a CRP?

The first step is to contact an attorney about your options. CRPs aren’t the best option for every case. Asking an experienced attorney about your claim and options can help you make more informed decision.

If your loved one was hurt during a medical procedure or was killed when care did not meet standards, we’d like to speak with you about your options. Our experienced medical malpractice attorneys understand when CRPs are worthwhile—and when to take the medical staff who treated your loved one to court.

House Narrowly Passes Bill to Gut Medical Malpractice Victims’ Rights

Under the radar of most news, H.R. 1215 narrowly passed the US House of Representatives with a 218-210 vote at the end of June. It sends a clear message as the bill goes on to the Senate that it’s a clearly unpopular bill and voting down the bill is supported by a number of groups, including both Democrats and Republicans alike.

The vote held every Democrat in a no vote and 19 Republicans also joined in voting against the bill, illustrating just how bad this bill is viewed by many of their constituents. Designed to severely limit the ability of patients to hold those responsible accountable when they are injured by medical malpractice, nursing home abuse, medical devices and drugs, the bill guts victims’ rights and puts an insufficient price tag on their lives. For more information about details of the bill, be sure to read our previous summary of H.R. 1215 and its effects on you.

As H.R. 1215 moves on to the Senate, there is a strong possibility that the bill be will be approved and become law. White House advisors are advising President Trump to sign the bill into law should it be approved by the Senate. It is important to call your Senator and tell them to vote NO on H.R. 1215 if you want to protect your rights.

Pressuring our Senators to vote against H.R. 1215 can make a difference in whether or not the bill passes and becomes a law, especially considering that 19 Republicans have already decided that the bill will take away Americans’ rights. Calling your Senator and telling your friends to do the same is the next step to protect your rights and helping to stop H.R. 1215.

Many proponents of the bill think that H.R. 1215 and limiting caps on medical malpractice lawsuits is the solution to lower healthcare costs but lawsuits don’t affect the costs of healthcare. But experts disagree that federal tort reform is the answer. Even those in the medical community disagree with the reforms proposed by H.R. 1215. A general surgeon in Phoenix, Dr. Jeffrey Singer says “we’re fooling ourselves if we think that it’ll be the magic bullet” of the proposed law.”

For many, it’s not until a year or two after an operation that you being to notice the effects of medical malpractice. One of the biggest hurdles for victims to overcome if H.R. 1215 becomes a law is the statute of limitations will be changed to just three short years for medical malpractice claims. If it takes you two years of trying to get to the bottom of why you’re getting worse after medical care that should have been successful, it only leaves one year to make your claim.

As lawyers who serve clients seeking restitution in medical malpractice cases, we’ve seen firsthand just how much recovering from someone else’s mistake can cost and how complex medical malpractice cases can get. Limiting the statute of limitations so severely will directly affect the number of people who are able to pursue making a claim, resulting in many victims being unable to receive the care they need after their injury. And it goes without saying that we believe a life is worth more than $250,000 if someone is killed by medical care below the standard of care.

It is important to take action and protect your medical malpractice rights. Call your Senator and tell them to vote NO on H.R. 1215. Don’t know how to contact your Senator? Just call U.S. Capitol Switchboard at (202) 224-3121 after finding out your Senator’s name.

Medical Malpractice Caps: What is your life worth?

If certain congressmen have it their way, your life will be worth $250,000. In an effort to supposedly prevent the rising costs of healthcare, legislators have pushed for the Protecting Access to Care Act of 2017. H.R. 1215, like many other bills in Congress these days, this bill has a deceiving title and is centered on a premise that is an outright lie.

The argument is that medical malpractice has ballooned out of control and raises the costs of healthcare. However, research shows this is not the case. In fact, medical costs are widely unaffected by medical malpractice cases. The idea is to limit the access that medical malpractice victims have to being compensated for their injuries or death as a result medical care below the standard of care. This saves nursing homes, hospitals, and their insurance companies money millions of dollars and that is what this is all about – their attempt to limit your rights and save them money. This is a sad joke as most if not all nursing homes and hospitals are covered by insurance. This is really about saving insurance companies money and screwing victims.

As medical malpractice attorneys, we’ve seen first hand the kinds of injuries medical malpractice can cause and how quickly the costs of caring for a medical malpractice injury can accumulate. The costs of caring for someone after a medical malpractice injury can easily cost more than $250,000 within the first few years, especially if the injury causes long-term health issues. For families that suffer the loss of a loved one, $250,000 is a tragically low. Just thinking about the loss of income produced by that family member, $250,000 isn’t enough. And that’s not even mentioning the pain and loss of companionship of your loved one.

So why are legislators trying to limit the value of a victim’s life to just $250,000, despite that such a compensation cap would be insufficient in many medical malpractice cases? Because they want to limit the power individuals have to hold healthcare companies accountable.

However, political pundits believe H.R. 1215 is unlikely to progress forward to become a law as it is currently written by the House. “While these bills could be incorporated into the Senate health care package, it is unlikely H.R. 2579 or H.R. 1215 would pass the Senate as stand-alone bills,” writes Katie Novaria. Yet congressmen are trying to sweeten the deal to get states on board with medical malpractice caps.

House Republicans are trying to use state’s budget shortfalls to incentivize states to participate in programs to limit the value of lives. The Washington Post reported, “On medical malpractice reform, Senator Ted Cruz of Texas said he has written an amendment to reward states with a 1 percent bonus to their federal Medicaid matching funds if they cap punitive damages for medical malpractice actions.” Ted Cruz doesn’t give a damn about victims or their families and is beholden to the corporate interests that fund his campaigns. Aren’t Senators supposed to work for the people? Not in the case of Cruz and many others.

Arkansas has been moving towards a new cap on medical malpractice compensation and will put a Constitutional Amendment in front of voters, putting the cap at $500,000. While twice the proposed federal cap, it will fail to cover the real costs medical malpractice victims and their families face.

If you or a loved one suffered an injury because of substandard medical care, it is important to act quickly, not only to avoid changing legislation but because there are strict time limits on how long after an injury or death claim may be filed.

Contact your representatives to voice your opposition to the bill before Congress and vote No on the Arkansas Constitutional Amendment. Remember to call our medical malpractice team to find out how we may be able to help you if your family or your friends have a death or injury.

What you need to know about medical malpractice

Medical Malpractice Isn’t The Same As Unsuccessful Treatment

Some medical treatment goes well and you get better thanks to the skill and care of your medical caregivers. Unfortunately, this isn’t always the case and some people don’t improve after medical care.

But what if your condition got worse because of your medical care? That’s something else entirely. In fact, a worsening condition after medical care is often a signal of medical malpractice. We’ve detailed many of the signs of medical malpractice to help you identify if you may have a medical malpractice claim.

Hundreds of thousands of Americans are harmed by the negligence of their doctors and other healthcare staff. In fact, there are an estimated 210,000 to 440,000 deaths every year due to medical malpractice according to the Journal of Patient Safety. Not all cases of medical malpractice end in death, however, so we don’t have a full picture of how many people are impacted by medical malpractice every year.

You might be quick to jump to the conclusion that you were just unlucky if you or a loved one suffered medical malpractice. Not all surgeries and medical care are successful, after all, so maybe your number came up. But there’s a key difference between unsuccessful treatment and medical malpractice you need to know.

Medical malpractice is when your doctor and medical team cause harm because they did something below the standard of care. In other words, by definition, medical malpractice happens because your caregivers failed at their jobs—not because their treatment was unsuccessful.

Sometimes it’s obvious, like the surgeon operated on the wrong leg. Other times it takes sorting through what happened to identify medical malpractice, like when a doctor fails to conduct the right tests that could have identified a condition or illness. Regardless of how the negligence occurred, it’s not the same as when a treatment just didn’t work.

Medical Malpractice Isn’t the Enemy, Despite what Doctors Say

Doctors, hospitals, healthcare companies, and their insurance companies want to prevent patients from filing medical malpractice claims because they’re expensive. Lobby groups that work on their behalf have made it harder for patients to be compensated for their injuries, often striving to limit the amounts patients can be paid even when the doctor or caregiver caused the harm.

When a doctor operated on the wrong leg, it’s pretty hard to defend against. But that doesn’t mean a patient should be limited in how much they can be compensated for their injuries. Yet doctors manipulate legislation to do so. In Arkansas, new legislation is trying to put a price tag on your life at $500,000 as a maximum payout you could receive in a medical malpractice case. Arkansas voters will decide on this issue.

Another complaint is that the legal costs to defend against claims for doctors are excessively high. However, the average costs for defense against a medical malpractice claim when the doctor committed medical malpractice and paid compensation was only $45,070 in 2012 according to the New England Journal of Medicine. Since 2012, medical malpractice claims and associated costs for representation have been dropping and new studies show that the costs of medical malpractice claims and insurance don’t affect the costs of healthcare, despite previous claims by medical professionals. Don’t believe the propaganda and lies spewed out by the Chamber of Commerce and insurance companies.

By comparison, the average income for a physician is $294,000 annually according to the 2017 Medscape Physician Compensation Report. In other words, it’s not the legal defense that’s expensive—it’s paying compensation when they were at fault that doctors and their insurance companies are complaining about.

Tom Baker, preeminent scholar in insurance law and author of The Medical Malpractice Myth, wrote, “The real costs of medical malpractice are the lost lives, extra medical expenses, time out of work, and pain and suffering of tens of thousands of people every year, the vast majority of whom do not sue.”

If you or a loved one suffered medical malpractice, the costs of dealing with the effects of medical malpractice are the true costs resulting from a doctor’s mistake. For many, a medical malpractice claim is the only path forward towards any semblance of a normal life for them or their family after being injured or killed by a doctor’s negligence.

What to do if you think you may have been affected by medical malpractice

In an effort to make medical malpractice claims even more difficult, healthcare professionals and their lobbyists have greatly reduced the amount of time victims have to file a claim. One of the most important things you can do if you think you may have a claim is to contact a medical malpractice attorney immediately. Please do NOT delay.

At the Emerson Firm, we help clients through the process of making a medical malpractice claim with dignity, compassion, and perseverance. If you’d like more information, be sure to read our helpful guide about medical malpractice, different signs and types, and what you can do if it happened to you or a loved one. Call us today at (501) 286-4622 if you believe you may have a claim. This is a free consultation.

What You Need to Know About Some Nursing Home’s Secretive Arbitration Clauses

Buried in many nursing home contracts is a clause that severely restricts patients and their families from suing nursing homes. It’s called an Arbitration Clause and for most patients and their families, they have no choice but to sign the contract to get the care their need.

High quality care in nursing homes is about to take a back seat to higher profits, especially as more Wall Street investment firms are snapping up nursing home companies. And the Trump Administration isn’t about to prevent these new investors from taking away consumer protection rights. Their goal is to prevent your right to a trial by a jury of your peers as guaranteed by the Constitution. This is a tragedy for many families who seek justice. The jury system has worked very well for hundreds of years. In arbitration the deck is slanted heavily in favor of corporate interests. Ask yourself why are corporations afraid of juries. The answer is they want a result in their favor every time and they want to screw you!

Arbitration Clauses might be standard practice in some industries and may make sense in commercial settings where two businesses have negotiated and agreed to them, but they severely limit consumers ability to hold those accountable who have caused harm. Clauses like these set up arbitration for nursing homes instead of allowing their residents and families to sue them when things go wrong. While this might seem like a good thing at first to help patients, the reality is most Arbitration Clauses force patients and their families to sign away their rights to sue nursing homes—no matter what laws they break. Instead, families are forced to go through third-party arbitration. Most people are surprised to find this out after a nursing home has killed or severely injured their love one.

Any good lawyer will tell you to avoid Arbitration Clauses in contracts you sign if there’s any potential you might need to sue the other party. The goal of these clauses is to restrict consumer rights—and that’s just what nursing homes are doing to keep profits high. As well, arbitration clauses often limit the ability of consumers to bring up the same issue again if it recurs through an estoppel effect.

In other words, if your loved one is hurt in a nursing home because of negligent care, you may be required to go through a third-party arbitration that seeks to limit damages paid by the nursing home to your family. On top of that, if your loved one has to stay in the same facility because there is no where else they can be relocated to, which is not uncommon in rural areas, if the same abuse or harm recurs, you may have no recourse to stop it.

As a result, the Centers for Medicare and Medicaid Services put together a proposal in 2016 to ban nursing homes from using arbitration in their contracts while receiving federal money, including Medicare and Medicaid funds. But the Trump Administration is trying to break down the proposal and prevent it from becoming a rule in nursing homes ability to seek funds from the government.

Paul Bland at the Center for Public Justice recently wrote an extensive article summarizing the importance of this proposal and what it does for patients and their families.

The truth is that nursing homes depend on federal dollars to be profitable. 62% of beds in nursing homes are paid for by Medicaid. With new restrictions on Arbitration Clauses, nursing homes would have to resort to removing these clauses that gut consumer protections from their contracts with patients. This would improve access to the right to a day in court for those abused or hurt by nursing homes or negligent care.

But in a move that shouldn’t surprise anyone, the Trump Administration is seeking to put nursing home profits over citizen rights and prevent the new proposal from going through.

We urge you to call your representative and let them know your opinion about the proposal as well as check any contracts you may have with nursing homes from Arbitration Clauses so you are aware of your rights.