Jul 13, 2015

Massachusetts Hospital Infection Rate - CDC Progress Report

The CDC's HAI Progress Report provides both national and state-by-state summaries of healthcare-associated infections. On the national level, the report found:
  • A 46 percent decrease in CLABSI between 2008 and 2013
  • A 19 percent decrease in SSIs related to the 10 select procedures tracked in the report between 2008 and 2013
  • A 6 percent increase in CAUTI between 2009 and 2013; although initial data from 2014 seem to indicate that these infections have started to decrease
  • An 8 percent decrease in hospital-onset MRSA bacteremia between 2011 and 2013
  • A 10 percent decrease in hospital-onset C. difficile infections between 2011 and 2013
Data from Massachusetts hospitals showed areas of concern in Catheter associated urinary tract infections as well as surgical site infections in colon surgeries.

To download specific reports by state, click here: CDC Progress Reports.

Get more information on tracking infections control in Massachusetts Hospitals.

Feb 1, 2013

Massachusetts Doctors and Hospitals Still Struggle with Apologies

The Boston Globe Magazine published last Sunday a lengthy article on the role of physician apologies in the medical malpractice landscape. The article:
Medical malpractice: Why is it so hard for doctors to apologize?
Fixing a system built on blame and revenge will require bold ways of analyzing mistakes and a radical embrace of openness.
You really should read the full article, but here is an important outtake:
"The misleading image of the doctor besieged by bogus lawsuits dangerously obscures an important fact: The vast majority of major medical errors never see the light of day. A classic 1991 study found that only about 2 percent of patients harmed by medical negligence filed a claim.... Harvard-affiliated hospitals were the target of only 90 malpractice claims relating to children between 2006 and 2010, a period when doctors racked up millions of patient encounters. The vast majority of the medical care at these hospitals is superb, to be sure, but it strains credibility to think that any major academic center makes a harmful mistake so rarely..."

Jan 28, 2013

Will Medicare's Value-based Purchasing Help Drive Accountability at Hospitals?

Boston area hospitals score 50-50 on Medicare's new program that ties payments to quality of care

Jordan Rau writes in The KHN Blog, Capsules, about a recent Kaiser Health News analysis of Medicare's new Value-Based Purchasing program that ties Medicare payments to quality of care.

The study, which included the country’s 212 major health care markets, reveals that hospitals in Fort Wayne, Ind., are faring the best on average while hospitals in Washington, D.C., are doing the worst. Interestingly, data on Boston hospitals shows 50% of hospitals getting a bonus based on performance, and 50% getting a penalty, with no average change in payments.

Below is state level data for Massachusetts, New Hampshire and Rhode Island: 
  • Massachusetts - 54% receiving a bonus, 46% receiving a penalty (of 56 hospitals) with a .01% average change in payments.
  • New Hampshire - 69% receiving a bonus, 31% receiving a penalty (of 13 hospitals) with a .08% average change in payments.
  • Rhode Island - 36% receiving a bonus, 64% receiving a penalty (of 11 hospitals) with a -.10% average change in payments.
You can view how individual hospitals in each regional market did by using KHN’s interactive chart, which allows searching by region. KHN’s new analysis averaged hospital performance in each of those markets. You can read more about the data here.

Aug 27, 2012

New Law in Massachusetts: Disclosure, Apology, and Offer Seeks To Settle Med Mal Claims Sooner, Cheaper

The health care cost control bill recently passed by the Massachusetts legislature and signed by Governor Deval Patrick on August 6 contains specific language that facilitates an approach of Disclosure, Apology, and Offer (DA&O) to address medical malpractice claims.

Language in the bill was agreed to by three principal groups – the Massachusetts Medical Society, Massachusetts Bar Association, and Massachusetts Academy of Trial Attorneys. Approval of the law makes Massachusetts the first in the nation to have comprehensive legislation that will enable the conduct of a DA&O program in different practice environments with different insurance arrangements. 

Changes include provisions for a six-month, pre-litigation resolution period that affords the time to go through a DA&O process with sharing of all pertinent medical records by the patient, full disclosure by providers, and for statements of apology by providers to be inadmissible in court.

Under the DA&O model, healthcare professionals and institutions and their insurers disclose to patients and families when unanticipated adverse outcomes occur; investigate and explain what happened; establish systems to improve patient safety and prevent the recurrence of such incidents; and, where appropriate, apologize and offer fair financial compensation without the patient having to resort to legal action. Patients will always have the right to consult an attorney to advise them of their rights and to evaluate the fairness of any offer or to bring legal action if they so choose.

The Disclosure, Apology, and Offer approach to settling medical liability claims in the commonwealth was announced in April as an initiative launched by an alliance of six major health care and patient advocacy organizations.

Apr 27, 2012

Coalition of Massachusetts Hospitals Launch Medical Apology Initiative

Via Medical Malpractice Law News: A coalition of seven Massachusetts hospitals are undertaking an intiative to transform a culture of "secrecy and denial" regarding medical errors according to a report in The Boston Globe. The hospitals in the coalition include Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center, Baystate Medical Center, and Massachusetts General Hospital. The plan calls on health providers to fully disclose mistakes to patients and apologize. Under the plan, patients who accept a financial settlement forfeit their right to sue.

Related articles in The Boston Globe:

Feb 27, 2012

Medical Malpractice Overlooked In Massachusetts?

This Channel 4 I-Team investigative report describes how medical malpractice lawsuits that settle for money before trial rarely lead to doctors being disciplined. See full article here: Hundreds Of Doctors Who Settle Malpractice Claims In Mass. Are Not Held Accountable

According to the report which examined
"records for more than 16,000 doctors and found 654 of them have settled one or more malpractice claims in the last decade. Out of those, only six doctors — less than 1 percent — have been disciplined by the state board."
These findings are similar to those of a national state by state analysis by Public Citizen: State Medical Boards Fail to Discipline Doctors with Hospital Actions Against Them, as reported in sister publication NH Medical Malpractice News.

Jul 26, 2011

Massachusetts Gun Maker Settles Wrongful Death Lawsuit

The Associated Press is reporting via Google News that "a Massachusetts gun-maker has agreed to pay nearly $600,000" to the families of two men (one wounded one killed) by a gun said to be stolen from the company, Kahr Arms. See the AP article here:
Mass. gun-maker to pay $600K in gun-death lawsuit

Jul 8, 2011

Abandoned Med-mal Lawsuits Weigh Heavy on Legal System

A report in the Boston Globe reveals that 59 percent of medical malpractice claims filed are simply abandoned, according to a new study published by the Journal of Health Affairs: Dropped Medical Malpractice Claims: Their Surprising Frequency, Apparent Causes, And Potential Remedies.

Information from the abstract of the study, authored by Dwight Golann, a professor at the School of Law, Suffolk University, in Boston, Massachusetts reads:
"Most medical malpractice claims are neither settled nor adjudicated. Instead, they are abandoned by the plaintiffs who bring them. This study measured the frequency and cost of abandoned claims and gathered opinions from attorneys and other experts on why plaintiffs drop claims. Plaintiffs in the study abandoned 58.6 percent of claims against defendants, while settling only 26.6 percent and adjudicating 14.8 percent. Claims are not dropped because a large percentage of them are frivolous, but for other reasons. The most important is that as plaintiffs acquire more information in the course of a lawsuit, they often conclude that a claim is weaker than they had first thought. The author recommends that insurers and hospitals adopt new procedures to encourage both plaintiff attorneys and defense representatives to exchange information more efficiently, discuss the merits of malpractice cases more candidly, and resolve cases quickly. Such reforms would greatly reduce both the frequency and the duration of cases that are dropped, and thus the cost of malpractice litigation."

Mar 15, 2011

Massachusetts General Hospital Named in Lawsuit for Medication Dosing Error

Channel 5 carries the news story of the family of a woman who died from a medication error at Mass General Hospital filing a medical malpractice wrongful death lawsuit. Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. attorney for the family states in the item that "This was a systemic failure within the hospital, within the nursing practices of the hospital and with the doctor's oversight responsibility — clear negligence on behalf of the hospital and the doctors and nurses involved."

Mar 12, 2011

Patrick Proposes Cooling-off Period and No-risk Apologies to Help Reduce Med Mal Suits

Listen to this WBUR report from Bob Oaks on proposed changes to medical malpractice laws in Massachusetts by Governor Deval Patrick. Quoting the story:
Under proposed changes, doctors in Massachusetts would be able to apologize to patients — without the risk that their apology could be used against them later, in court. The state would also implement a six-month “cooling off period,” so that hospitals and patients could try to resolve problems without lawsuits.
Click here to view the news article on WBUR.org and hear the audio of the news story.

Feb 22, 2011

Lubin & Meyer Still Tops in Medical Malpractice Settlements

Each year Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly complies the largest reported verdicts and settlements of the previous year of $1 million or more. And each year, one firm stands apart — Lubin & Meyer PC. The Boston-based personal injury and medical malpractice law firm dominates the list year after year. In 2010, Lubin & Meyer attorneys accounted for 20 of the largest settlements listed — nearly 1/3 of all settlements listed. This includes the largest medical malpractice settlement of the year — $6 million lawsuit for  newborn who received overdose of an anti-seizure drug.

Feb 17, 2011

Family Sues Ambulance Company in Wrongful Death Lawsuit

New England Cable News reporter Alysha Palumbo reports from Boston on February 16 on lawsuit naming an ambulance company as liable in the death of 68-year-old woman.

Feb 2, 2011

Pfizer Ordered to Pay $142.1 Million in `Off-Label' Marketing Case

Bloomberg News reports that Pfizer will pay triple damages totaling $142.1 million for marketing practices of its epilepsy drug, Neurontin, found to be in violation of U.S. racketeering laws.
"U.S. District Judge Patti Saris in Boston yesterday upheld a jury’s finding that Kaiser Foundation Health Plan Inc. and Kaiser Foundation Hospitals deserved the award over the companies’ claims that Pfizer illegally promoted Neurontin for unapproved uses. Saris tripled the jury’s award of $47.3 million under a provision of the Racketeer Influenced and Corrupt Organizations Act of 1970."
See the full article: Pfizer Ordered to Pay $142.1 Million Over Neurontin `Off-Label' Marketing on Bloomberg.com.

Jan 28, 2011

Big Tobacco Case Tops 2010's Largest Verdicts

Massachusetts Lawyers Weekly has published the annual largest verdicts round up in its January 20, 2011 issue:
"Two Boston trial lawyers took on Big Tobacco and won the largest jury verdict in the state last year in a wrongful death suit that exposed a disturbing campaign to distribute menthol cigarettes to inner-city children. The $152 million award in Evans v. Lorillard is nearly 10 times larger than 2009’s top verdict of $15.7 million ..."
Read the full article on Mass. Lawyers Weekly [login required].

Aug 16, 2010

Teens More Likely to Be Injured on the Job?

The Boston Globe reports in Young employees sometimes find themselves in harm’s way and face injury or death, that:
"Young people tend to find employment outside white-collar occupations, taking jobs where the risk is higher for workers of all ages. By definition, teens are inexperienced at the work they do, heightening their chances of injury. Because eight out of 10 teenagers are employed before leaving high school, their safety is a public health concern that’s getting increasing attention."
An accompanying graphic of work-related injuries to teens, show the startling evidence. Click on the thumbnail to link to the article where you can view the whole story and a larger version of this graphic.

Jul 28, 2010

Speak Softly and Carry a Big Snow Shovel — Slip and Fall Liability in MA

The Massachusetts Supreme Court ruled this week in a historic decision regarding snow removal and slip and fall injuries. A Boston.com article reports on the ruling saying...
"...the state’s high court ruled yesterday that landowners must make sure their property is clear of any snow and ice that could cause injury to others, regardless of whether the snow came from Mother Nature or from a plow or other source."
Read the full article: SJC changes rule on snow removal.
The case is Papadopoulos v. Target Corp. You can read the full ruling here.

Jun 22, 2010

Seven Partners From Sugarman Selected as Best Lawyers and Sugarman is featured in the Boston's Best Lawyers Publication

Boston, MA (PRWEB) — Seven partners from Sugarman and Sugarman, P.C., have been selected for inclusion in The Best Lawyers in America and are featured in the Boston's Best Lawyers 2010 Edition, a supplement to the Boston Globe.

One of the feature stories is that of Neil Sugarman, named by Best Lawyers as "Lawyer of the Year" for Product Liability Litigation. The article highlights Mr. Sugarman's highly successful 40-year career, fighting for personal injury victims. The article notes that Mr. Sugarman focuses his practice on products liability, medical malpractice, construction site accidents and complex personal injury cases and finds product liability cases "particularly satisfying…the complex cases always intrigued me." In the article, Mr. Sugarman also explains that "product liability and personal injury lawyers must always convey credibility before the jury, being accurate and forthright…Once the jury realizes that you are not only truthful but accurate, then what you have to say usually gets translated into a positive result for your client."

Oct 5, 2009

Best Lawyers in America Selects Three Attorneys from Boston Law Firm Lubin & Meyer

Boston, MA -- Lubin & Meyer PC is pleased to announce that three of its Boston trial attorneys have been named to the 2010 edition of Best Lawyers®, the oldest and most respected peer-review publication in the legal profession.

Founder Andrew C. Meyer, Jr. has been named every year since Best Lawyers inception in 1995 in both Medical Malpractice Law and Personal Injury Litigation. Robert M. Higgins, has been named each year since 2008, and is selected in the category of Medical Malpractice Law. This year, William J. Thompson joins their select company, named to Best Lawyers® 2010 under the practice area of Personal Injury Litigation.

See full press release.

Sep 30, 2009

Lawyer James Sokolove Seeks Permission To Set Up Shop in R.I.

Lawyer James Sokolove seeks permission to set up shop in R.I. | Rhode Island news | projo.com | The Providence Journal

According to the article in The Providence Journal:

"Sokolove is not seeking to practice law in Rhode Island, but instead open a branch of his Delaware-based firm here, court papers show. South Dakota is the only other state in which he does not have a presence.

A lawyer must be licensed to practice law in Rhode Island and be a dues paying member of the bar association to practice here. The state Supreme Court licenses lawyers to operate as limited liability corporations."

To read the full article on projo.com, click on: Rhode Island Law Office

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Sep 10, 2009

$6 Million Verdict Survives Judge's Error on Mid-Trial Jury Discussions

An article in the The National Law Journal and Law.com details key court opinion involving mid-trial jury deliberations. In the article by Sheri Qualters, the Massachusetts high court let stand a $6 million jury judgment in a personal injury case. As reported on Law.com:
"The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts' July 16 unanimous ruling in Kelly v. Foxboro Realty Associates LLC, heard by six of the court's seven justices, said that the trial judge committed an error by allowing jurors to talk about evidence by themselves during a trial despite one side's objection. But the opinion, authored by Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy, also upheld the judgment and said the judge's decision to allow the juror discussions didn't harm the defendant's case."
To read the entire article, click on: Mid-Trial Jury Discussions. The article is free, but may require registration.

Aug 10, 2009

Massachusetts Personal Injury Attorney to Lead Trial Lawyers Group

SAN FRANCISCO (Legal Newsline) July 31, 2009 -- Personal injury attorney Anthony Tarricone of Hamilton, Mass., has been eleced president of the trial lawyers group, American Association of Justice. Tarricone is a partner at the aviation law firm of Kreindler & Kreindler LLP. See full article here: Trial Lawyers

Jul 29, 2009

$6 Million Verdict Survives Judge's Error on Mid-Trial Jury Discussions

$6 Million Verdict Survives Judge's Error on Mid-Trial Jury Discussions

By Sheri Qualters
The National Law Journal
July 21, 2009

Here is a pointer to an important decision by the Massachusetts Supreme Judicial Court regarding jury predeliberation discussions as found on Law.com ...
The Supreme Judicial Court of Massachusetts' July 16 unanimous ruling in Kelly v. Foxboro Realty Associates LLC, heard by six of the court's seven justices, said that the trial judge committed an error by allowing jurors to talk about evidence by themselves during a trial despite one side's objection. But the opinion, authored by Associate Justice Robert J. Cordy, also upheld the judgment and said the judge's decision to allow the juror discussions didn't harm the defendant's case.
Read the full article here...

Jun 27, 2009

Danvers firm faces criminal charge in '05 death of woman - The Boston Globe

Amusment Co. faces criminal charge in climbing wall death

From the Boston Globe: Danvers firm faces criminal charge
A Danvers-based company was indicted yesterday in the 2005 death of a Saugus woman, who fell from an inflatable climbing wall, in a rare case of an amusement ride company being charged criminally in the state.
Read full article on Boston.com

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May 29, 2009

Big Dig contractor pleads guilty - The Boston Globe

Big Dig contractor pleads guilty - The Boston Globe

"The largest contractor on the Big Dig [Modern Continental] pleaded guilty yesterday to 39 federal charges of overbilling and lying about construction defects on the project, but prosecutors dropped five other charges that had implicated the company in the fatal 2006 collapse of the ceiling of the Interstate 90 tunnel."

Click to read complete news article at Boston.com.

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Jan 12, 2009

Massachusetts Ranks Third in Avg. Size of Medical Malpractice Claims Paid

The average amount for a medical malpractice claim paid in Massachusetts for 2007 is $530,963. This is the third highest avg. claim paid in the nation according to statistics compiled by The Henry J. Kaiser Family Foundation, whose statehealthfacts.org web site. The two states ranking higher than Massachusetts in avg. size of claim paid are Wyoming and Illinois with $641,692 and $634,971 per claim avg.

The web site offers comparative statistics on medical malpractice claims paid in all 50 states. Leading the pack in total dollars paid is New York state with $674,683,750 (an average of $441,547 per claim paid). Massachusetts ranks 7th in total claim dollars paid with $148,669,500.

The table below offers data on the top ten state's in average amount of medical malpractice claims paid (2007)...
For more information, see the Kaiser web site, click on: med mal claims paid data.