The establishment is committed to doing better to prevent future infections
In what plaintiffs’ attorney in the case called an admission of “extraordinary” liability, Geisinger Medical Center in Danville, Pa. Reached a settlement last month with families whose infants died or have been seriously injured as a result of a bacterial infection. epidemic in the facility, according to a story in the Time manager, which serves the northeastern part of the state.
Between July and September last year, three babies died in Geisinger’s neonatal intensive care unit after a flare-up of Pseudomonas aeruginosa, an opportunistic, multidrug-resistant infection that can also occur in otherwise healthy children. Five other children were also infected but survived, although one suffered permanent brain damage.
In October, several of the families sued Geisinger, around the time he publicly admitted the problem. They blamed the facility for not only allowing the infection to spread, but also for hiding the epidemic for several months, putting patients at risk.
Abel Cepeda, for his part, was born in hospital at the end of September but died less than a week later. His parents, Luis David Cepeda and Zuleyka Rodriguez, were part of the multi-party lawsuit.
“If Geisinger and his medical staff had prioritized the health and safety of his most fragile patients over his reputation and financial interests, as a required standard of care, Abel Cepeda would not have suffered the catastrophic injuries he sustained and he would not have died. said Matt Casey, the lawyer representing the families.
For his part, Geisinger apologized to the families and promised to do better in the future.
“The loss of a child is tragic and this settlement can never replace these young children,” said Geisinger President and CEO Jaewon Ryu, MD, JD, emergency medicine specialist and former lawyer for health in the workplace. “However, we believe we have taken the necessary steps to prevent future infections and spare other families from this loss.”
The amount of the settlement between the parties was not disclosed.
Fed settlement ends injured baby case
In another birth injury story, the federal government settled its part in a medical malpractice lawsuit brought on behalf of a child born with severe brain damage at what was then Trinity Hospital in Augusta, in Georgia, as reported in The Chronicle of Augusta.
In early 2016, Sherecia Willis, an active duty member of the military, entered Trinity Hospital to give birth to CW, as court documents refer to her baby. Trinity – which in March 2017 was acquired by University Health Care System and renamed University Hospital Summerville – was at the time associated with the Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, near Fort Gordon, which had contracted with the hospital. private to provide obstetric services. (These services are now provided by the Augusta Doctors Hospital.)
In his multi-party trial, which included both government and non-government defendants, Willis claimed 2 hours had passed between the time of his first exam and the birth of his baby. Towards the end of this period, she said, her baby was in distress, but it would have taken her neonatologist 22 minutes to put on her scrubs before delivering the birth.
In January, the non-government defendants – which included the attending physician and Augusta Physician Services – settled $ 3.55 million.
The federal government paid $ 6.67 million, bringing the total settlement to just over $ 10.2 million.
Under the agreement, none of the defendants admitted liability for the child’s injuries.
MICRA voting initiative, Redux
Last month, the delayed initiative to raise California’s decades-old medical malpractice cap became the first move to qualify for the 2022 state ballot, a published article reports. on the Ballotpedia.org website.
Originally, the Injured Patient Fairness Act, as the initiative is known, was slated for the 2020 state ballot. After the outbreak of the COVID-19 pandemic, however, supporters have chosen to delay the filing of the necessary signatures. As one of the leading advocates put it at the time: “No one really knows how [the pandemic] will affect the November elections … The ceiling for medical negligence has not changed for 45 years. We didn’t want to miss our chance. “
In order to place the measure on the 2022 ballot, the coalition that supports it has deposited just over 910,000 signatures with the Secretary of State. Three-quarters of them – or around 688,000 signatures – were deemed valid, more than enough to qualify.
If successful, the measure would immediately increase the current cap by $ 250,000 based on the evolution of the inflation rate since 1975, when the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) was passed. and enacted by then Governor Jerry Brown.
Had the fairness law been passed in 2020, the new inflation-adjusted limit would have reached about $ 1.2 million; thereafter, it would have been adjusted annually to keep pace with inflation. (A similar calculation will almost surely be made now that the measure is slated for the 2022 poll.) Under the new law, moreover, judges and juries would be allowed to award damages in excess of the limits set in the cases involving catastrophic injuries.
To date, supporters have raised nearly $ 5 million to defend the poll initiative, including a $ 3.65 million donation from Nicholas Rowley, a prominent California trial lawyer. Opponents of the measure – registered as Californians to Protect Patients and Contain Health Care Costs – carried out an even more successful fundraising campaign. They raised $ 18.3 million, including $ 9.8 million from The Doctors Company, the largest physician-owned medical liability insurer in the United States.
The parties are still fighting over the liability shield
At the time of going to press, Democrats and Republicans were still discussing the size and scope of a second COVID-19 relief plan. In addition to state aid and the amount of improved unemployment benefits, among others, the two sides clashed over the GOP’s plan to protect businesses, including hospitals and medical groups, from lawsuits. linked to COVID-19, as reported The hill and many other sources of information.
Under the Republican proposal, companies would be protected from the liability of workers who contract the virus on the job, unless those companies are “seriously negligent or intentionally misbehaving,” as the majority leader pointed out. in the Senate, Mitch McConnell (R-KY) in an interview. . McConnell and other proponents of the proposal say there is a need to encourage reluctant businesses to reopen, which kick-starts the economy.
But Democrats argue that the liability protections could force staff to work in dangerous situations and put their day in court at risk if they fell ill.
Democrats also fear the protections are too broad. “It favors business, we know that,” Senate Minority Leader Chuck Schumer (D-NY) said. He added that the protections are “a radical change from any liability law” as they cover all medical malpractice – COVID-related or not – until at least 2024, when the moratorium expires.
McConnell has pledged to suspend legislation that does not include adequate liability protections. In their current form, Democrats say, these protections are a failure.
The content of this article is for informational purposes only and does not constitute legal advice. You rely on the information provided in this article at your own risk.
Wayne J. Guglielmo, MA, is a freelance journalist based in Mahwah, New Jersey.
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