New York – Emotions Run Strong As State Considers Medical Malpractice Cap


    New York – Governor Cuomo’s plan to cap medical malpractice claims faces an uncertain future in the state Legislature, which is now the object of intense lobbying from competing interests, both for and against. NY1’s Josh Robin filed the following report.

    State lawmakers visited the Lowes Regency Hotel on Park Avenue Friday to hear hospital executives tell them about the burden of malpractice costs. But before they entered, they first had to see pictures of young Jake Brower: a week before his brain surgery seven years ago for a benign cyst, then after.

    “We’re gonna sell out these little kids, and we’re gonna sell out the victims of medical malpractice,” said Jake Brower’s father, John Brower.

    The Browers received $13.3 million from the hospital and surgeons they say are behind the fungal infection that will leave Jake requiring around the clock care for the rest of his life.

    “And I think that if hospitals and doctors practiced medicine better and that they employ doctors to practice medicine better then they could contain the costs of medical malpractice because they wouldn’t have as many lawsuits,” Brower said.

    “Last year, Maimonides spent $41 million on malpractice. This year, even though we became safer, we’re spending $46 million, so that’s a five percent increase,” said Maimonides Medical Center CEO Pamela Brier.

    More babies are born at Maimonides than at any hospital across the state. But that comes at a price. In fact, the hospital says it loses $1,500 for every birth there.

    That has a state commission recommending a fund for neurologically-impaired infants, and more controversially, a cap on what a jury can award for pain and suffering. It has Governor Andrew Cuomo’s blessing, but not of some fellow Democrats.

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    1. We need a no-fault compensation system rather than the current lawsuit-based system. But remember two things:

      Under Torah law, if you cause any of five kinds of damages, you are required to compensate the damaged person fully.

      States that have capped medical malpractice awards still not found that it solves any of the problems with their healthcare systems. In Texas, things are so bad that Americans are going to Mexico for medical care.

      • Torah law does not apply in a state or federal court. Medical practitioner practice differently today as in the time of the Rambam. Maybe if State board would weed out and have more fund to investigate incomptent practitioners relief would conme. Invasive procedures versus non-invasive procedures would help. Many conditions can be solved with diet and PT instead the scalpel. However joint replacement bring in more money. Dr. Ornish and Dr. Weil have proven that not every condition in need of the scalpel needs the scalpel.

        • I have not idea what your first two sentences mean.

          Regarding incompetant physicians, yes, there are some, but that isn’t the problem. Here is an example:

          Poor teenager gets pregnant, but ignores prenatal care. She shows up at hospital in labor, and the obstetrician — who could be making far more in a suburban private practice, but wants to be a do-gooder — saves the life of her and her baby — but the baby ends up with brain damage. Distressed mother hires an ambulance chaser who sues the hospital and the doctor. The hospital settles out of court for millions because they know that no jury will be able to resist the appeal of helping a disabled child. THAT is why annual malpractice premiums for obstetricians in the Bronx are now $176,573.00, not because the obstetricians are incompetant.

          (And that is not even the highest premium. Neurosurgeons have to pay $289,662.00 a year in malpractice premiums.)

          (And those rates don’t reflect windfall profits to insurance company stockholders — I got them from the web site of a mutual insurance company.)

          • Dear Mr. Hall the pregnancies of poor teenagers are a sociological problems which turns into a medical problem of unwanted pregnancies. The scenario you describe focuses only on one problem and does not address the myriads of other problem that every physician performing fiberoptic may have the license but not the optimal skill. Many physicans are too quick with the scalpel pricesely because the subject carries insurance. Sitting in Lakewood and depending on Medicaid does not improve the issue and finally “ushmartem eyz nafshoseichem”. Medical tort is applied in malpractice and not torah law. Torah law does not deal with fault up laminectomies and failed spinal fusions, that what it means. Fressing unendly will clog your coronary arteries at least we help a little which will not end leukemia, lymphoma and astrocytoma and strokes

            • Please take you apikoros to a non-frum site. Torah law applies to all kinds of damages. And it has neither “caps” on damages nor a statute of limitations.

            • Recently Medicare revised its reimbursement guidelines for bedsores. Charges were filed by Nursing Homes [owners frum and non-Jewish alike] for bed sores. These bedsores result from remaining in a rigid position for a prolonged period of time and can be relieved through massage and other means. Of course zeh melocha and v’zeh torah. So to keep the costs down and profits up the nursing home patient is the victim. The escape to frum allegations is very easy

          • I am not a lawyer but the damocles sword of legal action keeps some fine physician in bay. In German there no such term as malpratice or bad practice instead it is called “ein Kunstfehler” an error of the art which medicine is. Mr. Hall just check or demand copies of denying or removing the license of physicians from various state board and it would be an eye opener. The high premiums for neurosurgeons may be a brake that they will not be so eager to perform so many fine laminectomies and other spinal column procedures.

          • Youy live in a phantasy world of disregarding human sexuality and moral mores. Either allow abortion or pay for comprehensive prenatal care which the tea potties are against .Otherwise you are fighting Don Quixote windmills.

            • I am not in a fantasy world. In NY, poor pregnant teenagers can have all the prenatal care they want — paid for by Medicaid. They can also have an abortion without the consent of their parents — also paid for by Medicaid.

      • I carry in my wallet a card given to my wife by a “patient advocate for MDVIP and the card bears the following inscription “exceptional doctors, exceptional care, exceptional resuilt” I challenge any physician to defend this. Source Boca Raton, Florida. First and foremost “non nocere”

    2. Inserting stents in coronary artery which are not needed is malpractice, lack of diagnostic skill or misdiagnosis is malpractice, unnecessary CAT scan is malpractice, improper titration or adjustment of mammography machine is poor medicine, general anesthesia versus block infiltration or caudal anesthesia can avoid side effects. The fact is medicine has in some instances has generated large income and profits and it is hard to give them up. Finally except for malignancies a patient has some oversight and often needs instruction to maintain his health status

    3. There is another side to the coin. Patients’ responsibility. The spinal column and the knee joints are called weight bearing . When you had a coronary bypass that does not mean that the underlying condition of arteriosclerosis is cured. Overweight can cause diabetes and unlimited cholent , kugel, cold cuts are not health improving foods. Smoking causes emphysema and many other conditions. Yes the patient must do his part and finally have the tzichus of finding an erlichen physician

    4. Finally the fiscally responsible tea potty members of the house and other assorted followers will institute chronological triage and if this does not help maybe euthansia which would Medicare solvent and forever lasting

    5. For every frivolous , unfounded lawsuit there are legal actions resulting from hot shot eager surgeons beckoned by profits from invasive procedures. The antidote would be [impossible] to let the public read the proceedings of these legal actions. Abandonement of patients, iatrogenic infections, fiberoptic procedures performed by incompetent professionals, misdiagnosis of malignancies, false reading of films and many more. The coverage of the patient is the bait. The referral to a dietician, P.T is less than the profit from the scalpel. The malpractice lawyers remind me of prostitution, arrest the Johns and the ladies of the night will be unemployed.

    6. Dr. Hall’s analysis is correct.

      Studies have shown that many of the patients whose families receive payments did not experience medical malpractice, and many of those who really did experience medical malpractice do not end up suing their health care providers. A bad outcome does not mean malpractice occurred.

      If subspecialists like neurosurgeons and obstetricians face huge yearly malpractice premiums, they will either practice “defensive medicine,” or go elsewhere. Places like the Bronx will end up with fewer and fewer of such specialists.

      The costs of these exhorbitant premiums thus include major changes in medical and surgical care in communities.

      This is a very complicated situation.


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