Issue: August 2014
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Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders: Malpractice in Diagnosis and Treatment

Introduction

Liability Risks for Epilepsy and Seizures

Epilepsy affects about 2.2 million, one in every 26 people, and ranks as one of the most common neurological problems. Epilepsy, in combination with other seizure disorders, is an important health concern. The death rate from epilepsy and seizures exceeds the death rate from breast cancer or from HIV and AIDS.

 

Medical malpractice litigation arising in connection with epilepsy and seizure disorders may involve claims that a physician or health care provider was negligent in diagnosing or treating these conditions. Diagnosis and treatment of these conditions often is challenging. Litigation has resulted in awards and settlements in the millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and other potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that arise in connection with the diagnosis or treatment of epilepsy and seizure disorders.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice or negligence for an injury resulting from the diagnosis or treatment of epilepsy or a seizure disorder? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can liability for medical malpractice be avoided for an injury related to the diagnosis or treatment of epilepsy or seizure disorders? 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 epilepsy or a seizure disorder or there was no coverage for the provider’s actions? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for injuries related to epilepsy or seizure disorders? 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 involving the diagnosis or treatment of epilepsy or seizure disorders.

Physicians:

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

Insurers:

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

Employers:

Use this checklist to determine if the employee’s epilepsy or seizure disorder is “work related” and occurred “in the course of the employment.”

Expert Analysis

What Should Attorneys Consider When Litigating Claims Involving Epilepsy or Seizure Disorders?

Michael V. Kaplen, JD

How Are Dementia and Epilepsy Linked?

Nathan B. Fountain, 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 epilepsy or seizure disorders? 



Medical Examples

Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

This section provides detailed medical information on epilepsy and seizure disorders, the causes, epilepsy classification and types, onset and occurrence, diagnosis and treatment, potential complications, and discusses the patient’s prognosis, ability to work, and ability to drive.  



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

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


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Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders: Malpractice in Diagnosis and Treatment

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Michael V. Kaplen, JD
   Nathan B. Fountain, 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

Epilepsy and Seizure Disorders

Law and Medicine Resources