Issue: April 2015
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COPD Liability Risks: When Taking a Breath Is Not Easy

Introduction

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease Liability

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention report that 15 million Americans have been diagnosed with COPD, and that chronic lower respiratory disease, which primarily includes COPD, was the third leading cause of death in the United States.

 

Smoking is the most common cause of COPD. Twenty-five percent of COPD patients, however, have never smoked.

 

Failure or delays in diagnosing COPD, as well as misdiagnoses of COPD and mistakes in treating COPD, can lead to litigation.

 

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


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed for a claim of lack of informed consent related to the treatment of COPD? 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 COPD? 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 injury related to COPD? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an employee’s COPD? 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 COPD.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving COPD.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of medical malpractice or negligence involving COPD.

Employers:

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

Expert Analysis

What Can Employers Do To Mitigate the Health and Economic Costs of COPD?

John W. Walsh

What Are the Harmful Effects of a COPD Sufferer’s Continued Smoking?

Albert A. Rizzo, 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 COPD?



Medical Examples

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

This section provides detailed medical information on COPD, the terminology used, the distinctions among respiratory diseases, smoking and other causes, the symptoms, diagnosis, treatment, and complications. It also discusses the COPD sufferer’s prognosis, impairment evaluation, 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 COPD.


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COPD Liability Risks: When Taking a Breath Is Not Easy

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   John W. Walsh
   Albert A. Rizzo, 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

Chronic Obstructive Pulmonary Disease

Law and Medicine Resources