Issue: September 2014
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Hepatitis: Provider Malpractice and Patient Injury

Introduction

Liability Risks for Hepatitis-Related Injuries

Hepatitis occurs in a number of forms and affects millions of people in the U.S. About 800,000 to 1.4 million people in the U.S. suffer from chronic hepatitis B, with over 18,000 new infections occurring each year. Also, about 2.7 to 3.9 million in this country suffer from chronic hepatitis C, with 16,000 new infections occurring each year. Hepatitis is a major health concern.

 

An expensive new drug now available to treat hepatitis C costs $1,000 per pill, and about $84,000 for a typical course of treatment. Private insurers are scrambling to develop criteria to determine which patients are eligible for the drug, and state Medicaid directors are engaged in tough bargaining for rebates on the drug’s cost. Of most concern, however, may be the cost of treating even a fraction of the large population of hepatitis C infected prison inmates, which could amount to billions of dollars.

 

Litigation involving medical malpractice and other causes of action for the diagnosis or treatment of hepatitis, the diagnosis or treatment of other conditions that result in a patient contracting hepatitis, or other harm related to hepatitis has resulted in awards and settlements of the millions of dollars.

 

Attorneys, physicians, hospitals, insurers, employers, and others potential parties to litigation should be aware of the types of lawsuits and other liability issues that may arise in connection with hepatitis-related injuries.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed to establish medical malpractice or negligence for a hepatitis-related injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the attorney to employ?

Physicians:

How can a physician or other provider avoid liability for medical malpractice for a hepatitis-related injury to a patient? 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 provider’s acts resulting in a hepatitis-related injury? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ? 

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s hepatitis? 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 for an injury related to hepatitis.

Physicians:

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

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of injury related to hepatitis

Employers:

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

Expert Analysis

What Is Being Done to Prevent HBV and Discrimination Against Infected Individuals?

Joan M. Block, RN, BSN

How Can the Incidence of Liver Related Chronic Diseases Be Reduced?

Ivonne Perlaza Fuller, NRPP, MPA; Naina Ahluwalia, LLM

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 hepatitis? 



Medical Examples

Hepatitis

This section provides detailed medical information on hepatitis including the types and classifications of hepatitis, the etiology, symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, complications, and also 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 resources for further information on hepatits.


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Hepatitis: Provider Malpractice and Patient Injury

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   Joan M. Block, RN, BSN
   Ivonne Perlaza Fuller, NRPP, MPA; Naina Ahluwalia, LLM

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

Hepatitis

Law and Medicine Resources