Report: April 2019

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Lupus and Rheumatic Diseases: Inflamed Liabilities

Introduction

Lupus and Rheumatic Disease Liability Risks

Lupus affects roughly one in 2,000 people in the U.S. and nine out of ten lupus cases occur in women. Although the disease occurs in people of all races and ethnic groups, it occurs more frequently in African Americans.

 

A failure to diagnose and/or a failure to treat rheumatology patients in a timely manner were the two most commonly alleged causes of malpractice in one study. Juries found in favor of the plaintiffs in 20 percent of the cases, with a mean payout of over $2 million. For rheumatologists, 40 percent of malpractice claims were for medicine side effects and 60 percent were for failure to diagnose medical problems or complications of known medical conditions. 

 

Attorneys, physicians, insurers, employers, risk managers, and other potential parties to litigation need to understand the types of litigation issues that may arise in connection with patient injuries related to lupus or other systemic rheumatic diseases.


The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy

Attorneys:

What proof is needed for a claim arising from an injury related to a patient’s lupus or another systemic rheumatic disease? 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 a patient’s lupus or another systemic rheumatic disease? 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 related to lupus or another systemic rheumatic disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the insurer to employ?

Employers:

Can an employer be subject to liability for an injury related to an employee’s lupus or other systemic rheumatic disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the employer to use?

Risk Managers:

Can a risk manager prevent liability or mitigate damages for potential violations of the Americans with Disabilities Act in connection with an employee’s lupus or other systemic rheumatic disease? And, what is a potential strategy for the risk manager to use?


Practice the Technique: Checklists

Attorneys:

Check this list of facts and circumstances tending to show a provider’s liability for treatment related to lupus or another rheumatic disease.

Physicians:

Presented is a checklist of items a physician must consider when defending against claims of malpractice or negligence involving lupus or another rheumatic disease.

Insurers:

The insurer should check these “red flags” and inconsistencies when investigating a claim of malpractice or negligence involving lupus or another rheumatic disease.

Employers:

Presented is a checklist of items an employer must consider when determining if the employee’s injury involving lupus or a rheumatic disease is compensable.

Risk Managers:

Use this checklist to determine if the risk manager has identified and implemented all appropriate policies, practices, and procedures to avoid liability or mitigate damages for malpractice or negligence involving lupus or another rheumatic disease, and whether all affected parties complied with these policies, practices, and procedures.

Expert Analysis

How Is Lupus Proved or Disproved in the Medical Records?

David John, MD
Clinical Associate Professor at the Truman Medical Center of the University of Missouri-Kansas City, Health Sciences District

How Can Congress Immediately Address the “Silent Enemy” of Arthritis in the Military?

Robert Levin, MD
Immediate Past President, Florida Society of Rheumatology


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, employer, or risk manager 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, employer, or risk manager 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 lupus?



Medical Examples

Lupus and Other Rheumatic Diseases

This section provides detailed medical information on lupus. The information on lupus includes the causes, risk factors, triggers, signs and symptoms, diagnosis and testing, treatment, and complications of lupus. Also discussed is the lupus patient’s prognosis and ability to work. Other common rheumatic diseases also are discussed.



Law and Medicine Resources

Law and Medicine Resources

Provided is a listing of law and medical resources for further information on lupus and other systemic rheumatic diseases.


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Lupus and Rheumatic Diseases: Inflamed Liabilities

Table of Contents
Introduction

Expert Analysis
   David John, MD
   Robert Levin, MD

The Perspectives: Improve Your Strategy
   Attorneys Perspective
   Physicians and Health Providers Perspective
   Insurers Perspective
   Employer Perspective
   Risk Managers Perspective

Practice the Technique: Checklists
   Attorney Checklist
   Physician Checklist
   Insurer Checklist
   Employer Checklist
   Risk Manager Checklist

Alternative Dispute Resolution

Reasons to Reach Settlement

Reasons to Go to Trial

Jury Awards and Settlements

Lupus and Other Rheumatic Diseases

Law and Medicine Resources