Issue: February 2014
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Congenital Heart Conditions: How Infants, Adults, and Healthcare Providers Handle the Risks

Introduction

Congenital Heart Defects: Liability Issues

About 40,000 infants born each year in the United States have congenital heart defects. Congenital heart conditions are a leading cause of infant illness and death associated with birth defects. Studies indicate that nearly one million adults in the United States are currently living with a congenital heart defect. Nearly 10%  of congenital heart defects are not diagnosed until adulthood.

 

The cost of these heart problems is high. In one year, severe congenital heart defects accounted for about $511 million, or about 37%, of all hospital costs associated with congenital heart defects.

 

Any step in the diagnosis and treatment of congenital heart conditions, including both actions and inactions by medical professionals, can potentially result in adverse consequences and lead to litigation. Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers and others who may be involved in litigation concerning a congenital heart condition should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital heart condition.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish malpractice in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital heart condition? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital heart condition? 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 the patient’s injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for a heart-related injury to an employee with a preexisting congenital heart condition? 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 provider’s liability for malpractice or negligence in diagnosing or treating a congenital heart condition.

Physicians:

A physician should review the items on this list when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving the diagnosis or treatment of a congenital heart condition.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice in diagnosing or treating a congenital heart condition.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s injury related to a congenital heart condition is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

How Can a Bio-Inspired Glue Improve How Surgeons Treat Congenital Heart Defects?

Pedro del Nido, MD

How Can Physician Apologies Reduce Medical Malpractice Claims?

Samuel D. Hodge, Jr., JD and Nicole Saitta, MA

What Are the Causes of Congenital Heart Defects?

Brett Anderson, MD, MBA and Teresa Lee, MD

Litigation

Alternative Dispute Resolution

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


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.


Jury Awards and Settlements

How much have juries awarded and what settlements have been reached recently in cases involving congenital heart conditions?



Medical Examples

Congenital Heart Defects and Diseases

This section provides detailed medical information on congenital heart defects and diseases, common conditions, symptoms, diagnosis and treatment, and discusses the patient’s prognosis and ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided below is a listing of law and medical references for further information on congenital heart diseases and defects.


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Congenital Heart Conditions: How Infants, Adults, and Healthcare Providers Handle the Risks

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Pedro del Nido, MD
   Samuel D. Hodge, Jr., JD and Nicole Saitta, MA
   Brett Anderson, MD, MBA and Teresa Lee, MD

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

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons To Reach Settlement

Reasons To Go To Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Congenital Heart Defects and Diseases

Law and Medicine Resources