GIVE ME THE NEWS
The Florida Supreme Court this week resolved the difference between medical malpractice and ordinary negligence. The case involved a confrontation between medical staff and a deaf plaintiff that led to the plaintiff needing to have part of her left leg amputated. In a unanimous ruling, the court limited medical malpractice claims to only those that are "directly related to medical care or services, which require the use of professional judgment or skill." The court announced its intention to support the Florida legislature's policy goals of encouraging early settlement and screening out frivolous medical malpractice claims.
A BAD CASE
In other state high court news, Wisconsin's medical malpractice cap on damages for pain and suffering faced a constitutional challenge. The Wisconsin Supreme Court heard oral arguments in a case involving a woman who lost both her arms and legs following an untreated infection and a "medical tsunami" that caused her organs to fail and caused gangrene in her extremities. Proponents of the medical malpractice cap say it helps attract doctors to the state, curbs defensive medicine, and protects a fund worth $1.4 billion used to compensate patients. We will keep watch for this ruling.
OF LOVIN' YOU
And next week, the Connecticut Supreme Court will review medical malpractice damages in a case involving a $4.5 million jury award to a widow for loss of consortium. Loss of consortium dates back to around the 1800s for claims involving the loss of marital companionship following a spouse's injury. The common law rule of consortium has spurred academic debate and remains an "emerging field" before the courts and state legislatures, particularly in the context of damages in medical malpractice cases.
THINK YOU'RE IMMUNE TO THE STUFF
Do limitations on professional liability affect care? A six-year research study released in the latest issue of Health Management, Policy and Innovation (HMPI) found that adverse medical events declined when physicians received immunity from malpractice lawsuits at a large South Florida teaching hospital. The study found no negative impact on patient safety when approximately 900 physicians received sovereign immunity from medical malpractice claims while working at a public hospital. We've got our eye on these professional liability issues.
The California Supreme Court ruled this week in a case that could help thousands of drivers for ride-hailing companies and other gig economy workers establish claims for employment benefits. The justices unanimously ruled that California's wage laws must be interpreted to protect both workers and competition among ethical businesses. Chief Justice Tani Cantil-Sakauye outlined three requirements an employer must meet to prove their workers are independent contractors. The court's "ABC Test" is as follows: the contractor provided the service free from the company's control; the service provided is outside the company's core business; and the contractor is an independent professional engaged in providing their service to companies other than the one in question. Pundits argue the court's ruling could be far- reaching.
RESTARTING TEMP STAFFING INITIATIVE
More than 40 labor unions, businesses, and public health groups sent a letter to Labor Secretary Alexander Acosta this week asking the Secretary to restart the work of six OSHA advisory committees by filling in vacancies and otherwise allowing these bodies to meet and conduct the business of worker safety. Advocates specifically called for nominees to fill vacant spots on the National Advisory Committee on Occupational Safety and Health (NACOSH), a committee dedicated to the study of temporary staff safety.
Making Our Way Around the Country
Governor Tom Wolf vetoed a bill that would have overhauled the Pennsylvania workers' compensation system. The GOP-backed bill, which passed the state's general assembly last week, would have created a drug formulary within the state's workers' compensation program. Supporters sought to curtail over-utilization of opioids to injured workers, as well as reduce medical costs of non-FDA approved compounded pain creams. Governor Wolf, a Democrat, said it was too broad and would interfere with the doctor-patient relationship. We'll see if the legislature moves to override the veto.
The Illinois House voted 62-43 to establish a state-monitored workers compensation insurance company called the, "Illinois Employers Mutual Insurance Co.," a nonprofit, independent public corporation to insure Illinois employers against liability for workers compensation and occupational disease coverage. Governor Bruce Rauner vetoed similar legislation last year. Leading associations of insurance carriers also oppose the bill. The bill moves to the state senate.
The Minnesota Department of Labor and Industry released its 2016 Minnesota Workers' Compensation System Report. Per the report, the number of paid workers' compensation claims fell 54 percent relative to the number of full-time-equivalent (FTE) employees from 1996 to 2016. The number of paid claims fell from 8.8 per 100 FTE employees in 1996 to 4.0 in 2016. The cost of the workers' compensation system for 2016 amounted to $1.24 per $100 of payroll, which compares favorably to national averages. This report, part of an annual series, presents data from 1996 through 2016 about Minnesota's workers' compensation system.
NATIONAL CONCERT WEEK
We hope that you found our references to some classic hits simply irresistible. If not, perhaps some of your favorite artists are on tap for National Concert Week! Enjoy the shows!