State Courts News

ISMIE routinely monitors legal cases relevant to the practice of medicine. Here are a few recent court cases of interest.
The Indiana Supreme Court has agreed to examine whether the state’s Medical Malpractice Act extends beyond the claims brought by an injured patient or their representative. The court is looking at who or what can be the “claimant” and “patient” in a lawsuit in which a hospital sued a radiology group over a malpractice suit settlement it reached with a deceased patient’s relatives.
A question is whether the law is written so broadly that it reaches beyond an injured patient to include a claim by the hospital against groups of physicians for which it contracts exclusive medical services like radiology, pathology, anesthesiology, emergency medicine, etc. That action would be based upon indemnification language in the agreements. The Act may be broad enough as well to permit one healthcare provider to try to hold another healthcare provider responsible for an alleged medical negligence claim. Attorneys in Indiana state that broader interpretation will lead to more lawsuits and upend healthcare contracting in Indiana. The case is currently pending with the state’s high court.

New Mexico
The governor recently signed into law a revision of the New Mexico Medical Malpractice Act. As of January 1, the revised law will help independently-owned outpatient facilities secure insurance coverage. The Act also addresses caps on medical liability claims. Along with other reforms, this law ensures a $750,000 cap for medical liability injuries for independent healthcare providers. They had been facing a $4 million cap at the start of the New Year and difficulties finding medical liability insurance.

West Virginia
In a win for access to patient care, the West Virginia State Supreme Court of Appeals removed an avenue for medical lawsuit abuse for those who try to get around the requirements of the law. The Court ruled that the Medical Professional Liability Act (MPLA) applies broadly to all services related to patient care and that litigants cannot characterize claims as corporate or general negligence in an effort to avoid the provisions of the law. The plaintiffs argued that the corporate conduct they were alleging in their complaint was not healthcare services under the MPLA. Therefore, it was not subject to the pre-lawsuit requirements of the law. The Court did not agree and ruled against the plaintiff and their interpretation of judicial precedent.
If you have questions about any of these cases or other claims issues, please contact us
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