Apr 13, 2010

NH Supreme Court Finds Negligence Should Be Left for Jury To Decide in Medical Malpractice Trial

CONCORD, NH — The New Hampshire Supreme Court overturned the trial court's decision in a medical malpractice lawsuit, Beckles v. Madden, agreeing with Lubin & Meyer attorneys for the plaintiff in finding that the burden of proof for causation, an element of negligence, should be left for the jury to decide. Attorney Benjamin Novotny, presented the oral argument before the court. The opinion was issued April 9, 2010 by Chief Justice Broderick.

The case in summary:
"The plaintiffs, Wesley and Maggie Beckles, appeal a decision of the Superior Court (Barry, J.) granting summary judgment on their medical malpractice claims in favor of the defendants, Jennifer E. Madden, M.D., Eugene A. Lesser, D.O., Foundation Medical Partners, Foundation Neurology, and Nagbhushan S. Rao, M.D. We reverse and remand
The opinion cites New Hampshire law as follows:
A negligence action based upon a claim of medical malpractice is governed by RSA chapter 507-E (1997 & Supp. 2009). RSA 507-E:2 provides in part:

I. In any action for medical injury, the plaintiff shall have the burden of proving by affirmative evidence which must include expert testimony of a competent witness or witnesses:
(a) The standard of reasonable professional practice in the medical care provider's profession or specialty thereof, if any, at the time the medical care in question was rendered; and
(b) That the medical care provider failed to act in accordance with such standard; and
(c) That as a proximate result thereof, the injured person suffered injuries which would not otherwise have occurred.
The court's full ruling is available online at Beckles v. Madden.

Apr 9, 2010

Med Mal Panels in NH Working According to N.H. Medical Society’s Palmer Jones

A NHBR interview with N.H. Medical Society’s Palmer Jones includes a question on how New Hampshire's medical malpractice panel has worked (which he a says in helping settle cases quicker). What follows is an excerpt from that interview... (Read the full interview here: NH Medical Society, Palmer.)
"Five years ago, the Medical Society worked with a group of legislators to create these panels. This idea was not original – it came from Maine. What we saw was, say you’re an OB/GYN in Portsmouth and you drive across the bridge and practice in Maine, you’ll get your malpractice insurance for one-third less than what you’re paying in New Hampshire from the same company.

Once we showed the legislators the comparisons of the rates, they supported it. The medical malpractice panel is now in place. It includes a retired judge, a lawyer and a doctor of the same specialty. Any liability issues brought against any physician, hospital or other health-care practitioner has to be reviewed by this panel.

The panel can then make recommendations; if the panel is unanimous, that outcome can be introduced in court should the person wish to go on to a jury trial. We think that it has changed the overall culture as to how we deal with medical malpractice. Cases are being settled quicker, and we know when this happens, the system will save funds."