September 1, 2007 Recent Legal News









Peer Review


Consumer Checkbook v HHS
DC Wash. DC

A federal judge has ruled in favor of Consumer Checkbook that asked for and received permission to get the information on physicians that treat Medicare patients in four states and the District.  They will now get how many procedures and tests each physician orders and does on unidentified patients.  They will also get potential complication statistics.  The problem is as always-the individual patient and how sick that person is.  

Physicians v Louisiana

A group of 54 health professionals sued the state and the city of New Orleans to keep private the details of the investigation into the deaths of the several patients at Memorial Medical Center.  The professionals used aliases to file the suit alleging the privacy rights of the health care professionals, the grand jury investigation and physician patient privilege.  

The judge expunged the public record of Dr. Pou and reminded the public officials to keep secret all information presented to the grand jury in the case.  He deferred to the judge in the case mentioned above regarding things in subpoenas.   

Patients v Walter Reed
To Be Filed

The research patient files of those at Walter Reed Hospital have been found in the trash.  The idiots threw them out instead of shredding them.  This is from a hospital that is already under fire for their shoddy treatment of our troops.     Top


Physicians v Cigna

The Fairfield Connecticut Medical Association has filed against Cigna and UnitedHealth an action alleging that the companies illegally steer patients to what the companies call elite physicians.  This is based on cost and not quality and according to the suit is a fraud upon the public.  Part of the suit is to force the insurance companies to divulge how they came to their conclusions of which physicians were "elite".   

Patients v Banner Health
Ariz App Ct.

Seven patients and their insurer, Medical Savings lost again in court.  The lower and appellate courts both agreed that Banner could charge those without contracts their usual fees regardless of their contracts with other insurers.  One dissent stated that it was possible that the prices Banner filed with the state may be unconscionable.  

Massachusetts v HealthMarkets, Inc.

The state attorney general filed suit against the above and its progeny, MEGA and Mid-West insurance for denying required medical services to insureds.    

Neotonus v AMA
ND Georgia

Neotonus, a maker of a female incontinence device, sued the American Urological Association and the AMA for not putting their product in the 2003 CPT book.  They sued on antitrust.  They lost stating that the individual physicians, not the AUA, did the necessary research to disallow the procedure.  There was no collusion between the organizations.           Top


Louisiana v Mangano

The trial of the owners of a nursing home in the New Orleans area that allegedly failed to evacuate their residents is under way.  Thirty five people died by drowning when the flood came and overwhelmed the home within 20 minutes.  The couple who owned the nursing home stayed and saved some of the residents.  The prosecution is attempting to make them criminally negligent for not evacuating the home.  They were under no order to evacuate.  The case is ongoing.

US v Parkway Hosp.

Parkway Hospital paid the government over $1 million to settle fraud charges that they entered non allowed cost items on their Medicare report.  It was a whistleblower case and the hospital denied any wrongdoing.  Sure. 

US v Bobo
DC Ala

The third time is the charm.  Dr. Bobo had been tried three times by the feds for various Medicaid fraud charges and lost all three times either at trial or on appeal.  He had been accused of attempting to rig bidding, payoffs and lying under oath.  The jury acquitted him of all charges.     Top


Carroll v Konits
Md Ct App

The Maryland Court of Appeals dismissed the law suit by the plaintiff against the physician defendants due to the expert physician's lack of writing the physician's negligence was the proximal cause of the injury.  This is required in the state.  Sounds like the attorney for the plaintiff screwed up by not having the expert make an affidavit. 

Pellicer v St. Barnabas Hosp
NJ Ct App

 The New Jersey Court of Appeal upheld a $70 million judgment against the hospital stating the large judgment was warranted due to the injuries to a brain damaged infant.  The main problem was a $50 million award for pain and suffering.  

Patients v Mentor 

Thirteen females in Georgia have sued Mentor Corp for defective bladder sling devices. The patients claim the device caused them problems with intercourse and in one case caused a Strept infection.  The company took the device off the market in 2003.  It is amazing that all the suits are in Athens, Georgia.

Larson v Wasemiller
Minn. Ct. App.

The Court has ruled that Minnesota now allows a tort claim for negligent credentialing.  The case was remanded to the lower court to allow this issue to be decided. This is the 28th state to allow this tort claim. 

Hippley v Walgreens
Jury Verdict

In Polk County, Illinois, the plaintiff won a suit against Walgreens for giving the plaintiff 10 times the usual dosage pill of a blood thinner.  The 46 year old patient had a stroke and then died.  The jury awarded the plaintiff $25.8 million.                 Top


Fleming v State Univ. of NY

Dr. Fleming sued for the hospital releasing to a prospective employer that he has sickle cell disease.  This cost him the job.  The Court said the case was improper under the ADA but was OK under the Rehabilitation Act against the hospital and the supervisor that released the information.   

General Med PC v Manolache
Ohio App Ct

The group sued the physician for enforcement of the covenant not to compete.  The physician moved for summary judgment as the non compete was illegal as to physicians.  The lower court granted the summary judgment and the group appealed.  The appellate court stated that the non compete is disfavored but no illegal against physicians and should be enforced to the extent necessary to protect the group's legitimate interests.           Top


Planned Parenthood v Missouri

Missouri has passed a law that if over five first trimester abortions are performed they may only be performed in a state licensed ambulatory surgical center.  Planned Parenthood has sued to stop the law from going into effect.  The organization would have to make changes to its offices to conform to state rules regarding ASCs.  

Roe v Planned Parenthood
Ohio Ct. App

In a case that started in 2000, Roe sued for abortion records of their daughter who had an abortion without their consent.  The original court allowed the records to be turned over but with names redacted.  The Court of Appeals overturned that decision stating that the privacy is more important than the records in a single civil case.  The case stems from a illicit affair between a 13 year old and her soccer coach.  The coach then lied to Planned Parenthood and stated he was related to the girl.  The coach was convicted and sentenced to three years in prison.  The civil suit seeks damages and for the court to make sure that Planned Parenthood follows the archaic law of the archaic state.  The case will be appealed to the state supreme court.        Top


Southard v United Reg. Health 
ND Tex

The plaintiff suffered a heart attack and died soon after being discharged from the ED.  The plaintiff is suing under EMTALA and has been allowed to go forward by the judge.  The plaintiff requested and the judge allowed the medical records of all ED patients in the past year with the same seven symptoms as the plaintiff to determine if the plaintiff was treated the same as others.  The plaintiff was uninsured.   

Lewellen v Schneck Med Ctr
SD Ind

The plaintiff sued the medical center for an EMTALA violation due to their lack of a significant screening and stabilization which led to a significant injury.  The court ruled that the exam was so cursory could lead a jury to conclude that the patient's constitutional and EMTALA rights had been violated.      Top


North Carolina v N. C. Med Board
NC Filed

North Carolina originally sued the medical board for stating it would punish any physician that took part in helping the state execute felons sentenced to death.  The medical board has now asked the judge to drop the suit stating it has jurisdiction.  The judge will issue an opinion in about a week but is leaning toward letting the suit go forward.  The state argues that an execution is not a medical procedure so the board has no jurisdiction.  The board says that just checking the felon to see if he/she is dead is a medical procedure.  

Korangy v FDA
4th Circ

The FDA decertified the mammography equipment of the radiologist Korangy for several months due to old equipment that failed to take quality images.  During this time the radiologist continued to take mammograms with the faulty equipment.  The FDA could have fined Korangy $10,000 per mammogram but instead fined him only $3000 per mammogram.  This came to over $1 million.  The courts stated that this amount was reasonable considering the faulty equipment and only fining 30% of the amount that they could have fined. Expensive mammograms and stupid physician.     Top

Peer Review

Blau v Northridge Hospital
CA Ct App

This is an unpublished case so can not be used as any precedent.  It is interesting as it is one of the only cases I have seen where disruptive behavior was deemed to be administrative and therefore not coming under the California Business and Professional Code 809 (California's HCQIA).  Dr. Blau, over several years, was so disruptive to the operations of the GI lab and the hospital that the nurses all refused to work with him or were going to quit.  The hospital administration, after multiple warnings and having Dr. Blau go to the Wellness Committee, decided to ban Dr. Blau from the hospital.  They did this and then allowed Dr. Blau administrative hearings before two nurses and a physician and with a hearing officer.  The physician lost at the hearing and again at an appellate level.  He sued initially for not getting a peer review hearing for a medical quality concern and lost since he had not gone through all the administrate hearing at the hospital.  After losing all, he sued again and in the present case the court ruled that the issues had been decided in the prior case.  The court went through a very good review of disruption.  It is also interesting that the court mentioned several cases where hospital based personnel could constitute bias.  I understand the frustration of the physician but to sue in order to be allowed to be reported to the state and the NPDB seems to me counterproductive.          Top


DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.