Issue: May 2014
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Diabetes and Its Complications: Malpractice and Other Liability Issues

Introduction

Liability Risks for Diagnosing and Treating Diabetes

Diabetes occurrence is skyrocketing in the United States. Nearly 26 million Americans already have diabetes, although as many as 7 million are undiagnosed. In addition to those currently affected, approximately 79 million adults are at risk of developing diabetes. Predictions indicate that as many as one in three Americans may have diabetes by 2050.

 

The economic cost of diagnosed diabetes in the U.S. is estimated to be $245 billion annually, which includes direct health care costs and indirect costs such as disability, work loss, and premature mortality. Diabetes is the primary cause of death for more than 70,000 Americans each year and contributes to the death of more than 230,000 annually.

 

Litigation for medical malpractice involving the diagnosis and treatment of diabetes and its complications can result in high awards and settlements, some in the millions of dollars.
Other types of litigation also may occur, including actions for products liability or employment-related issues.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others who may be affected should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of diabetes and related complications.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish a provider's medical malpractice in diagnosing or treating diabetes or a related complication? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability be avoided for a claim of medical malpractice or negligence in diagnosing or treating diabetes or its complications? 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 in diagnosing or treating diabetes or there was no coverage for the provider’s acts? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s diabetes-related injury? 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 the diagnosis or treatment of diabetes.

Physicians:

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

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice or negligence in the diagnosis or treatment of diabetes.

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s diabetes-related injury is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

What Are the Recent Improvements to the Care of People with Diabetes and Its Complications?

Martin J. Abrahamson, MD, FACP

What Do Physicians Need to Know About Diabetes and Obesity?

Ruth Lipman, PhD

What Types of Legal Claims Arise From Injuries to Persons with Diabetes, and What Can be Done to Handle and Avoid Them?

Kriss Halpern, JD

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 diabetes injury?



Medical Examples

Diabetes

This section provides detailed medical information on diabetes and its cause, diabetes during pregnancy, and the diagnosis and treatment of the different types of diabetes and complications of diabetes. This section also discusses a diabetic’s ability to work.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on diabetes.


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Diabetes and Its Complications: Malpractice and Other Liability Issues

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Martin J. Abrahamson, MD, FACP
   Ruth Lipman, PhD
   Kriss Halpern, JD

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

Diabetes

Law and Medicine Resources