Issue: December 2013
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Thicker Than Water: Liability When Blood Clots Cause Injury or Death

Introduction

Blood Clot Liability Issues
Estimates of the number of patients with blood clots occurring annually in the U.S go as high as 600,000, with the estimated number of annual deaths as high as 300,000. The National Center for Health Statistics data indicate that blood clots would be ranked as either the third, fifth, or eighth leading cause of death by disease.
 
Blood clot disorders such as deep vein thrombophlebitis or thrombosis (DVT) and pulmonary embolism (PE) rank among the top health concerns in the country. Experts agree that the failure to diagnose and treat these conditions is not uncommon, and can lead to serious injury and death. It also can lead to litigation and potential liability for medical malpractice.
 
Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, and others who may be involved in litigation involving blood clot injury need to understand the liability issues and medical aspects to handle these cases properly.

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice or negligence for an injury resulting from a blood clot? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for a blood clot injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the physician to employ?

Insurers:

Can a payout under a medical malpractice liability policy be avoided by proof that the health provider was not negligent or there was no coverage for a blood clot injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an injury resulting from a blood clot? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a health care provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence resulting in an injury caused by a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.

Physicians:

A physician should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving an injury resulting from a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these "red flags" and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of injury resulting from a blood clot, deep vein thrombosis, or pulmonary embolism.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee's blood clot injury is "work related" and occurred "in the course of the employment."

Expert Analysis

How Can Surgical Intervention Be Used Effectively To Correct Blood Clot Conditions? 

Mark A. Adelman, MD

Why Would a No-Fault Compensation System for Medical Injuries Such as VTE Serve Patients Better Than the Current Malpractice System?

Steven E. Raper MD, JD

What Are the Warning Signs That Indicate a Blood Clot and What Can Be Done To Prevent Clots?

Barbara Kornblau, JD, OTR

Litigation

Reasons to Reach Settlement

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to reach settlement, and not take the action to trial.


Reasons To Go To Trial

The following are reasons why the attorney, physician, insurer, or employer would want to take the action to trial.


Alternative Dispute Resolution

Arbitration or mediation may be required by contract or statute, mandated by the court or, in some circumstances, may be the appropriate method for a negotiated resolution.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving blood clots, deep vein thrombosis, pulmonary embolism, or clot-provoked stroke?



Medical Examples

Blood Clots, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Clot-Provoked Stroke

This section provides detailed medical information on the vascular system and blood clotting, and includes coverage of prophylactic measures and a glossary. Blood clot symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and complications are discussed as well as the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on blood clots and medical malpractice.


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Thicker Than Water: Liability When Blood Clots Cause Injury or Death

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Mark A. Adelman, MD
   Steven E. Raper MD, JD
   Barbara Kornblau, JD, OTR

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys
   Physicians and Health Providers
   Insurers
   Employers and Risk Managers

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Jury Awards and Settlements

Blood Clots, Deep Vein Thrombosis, Pulmonary Embolism, Clot-Provoked Stroke

Law and Medicine Resources