Two Houston Medical Malpractice Plaintiff Law Firms Reject Coronavirus Lawsuits

May 12, 2020 by matray

To honor and support the heroes of the healthcare system in Texas, Houston-based law firms Brown, Christie & Green and McGehee, Chang, Landgraf, Feiler have announced that they will not accept COVID-19 cases that seek to sue doctors, hospitals or nursing homes for their good-faith efforts in treating COVID-19 patients.

In their coronavirus lawsuit announcement, Brown, Christie & Green managing partner, Charles Brown, said, “Given the unprecedented circumstances surrounding COVID-19, we believe that, under the circumstances, assuming good-faith efforts to treat, that we can neither prove a breach of the standard of care nor causation. We do not believe that there is a true standard of care in light of the uniqueness of this situation.

In a similar announcement, McGehee, Chang, Landgraf, Feiler said, “We know that hospitals are doing their best to write new policies, try new protocols and manage the pandemic. As they develop responses, mistakes will be made. Some mistakes will hurt people. Some mistakes will look obvious in retrospect. This problem is unprecedented until we find a solution.”

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Dr. Richard Anderson to Receive 2020 MPL Association Award of Excellence in Honor of Peter Sweetland

May 11, 2020 by matray

The Medical Professional Liability (MPL) Association announced Richard Anderson, MD, FACP, chairman and chief executive of The Doctors Company, will be the recipient of the 2020 Award of Excellence in Honor of Peter Sweetland. Dr. Anderson is being honored for his singular contributions and longtime dedication to the MPL insurance community, the MPL Association and healthcare professionals. The MPL Association is the international organization representing the medical professional liability insurance community.

Dr. Anderson is also a director of The Doctors Company Foundation. A former clinical professor of medicine at the University of California, San Diego, Dr. Anderson is past chair of the Department of Medicine at Scripps Memorial Hospital, where he served as senior oncologist for 18 years.

Dr. Anderson is editor of the book, Medical Malpractice: A Physician’s Sourcebook, and the author of a number of peer-reviewed publications on medical malpractice, the Harvard Medical Practice Study and the impact of defensive medicine.

Formerly the chair of the board of the MPL Association, Dr. Anderson currently serves as vice-chair for the MPL Association Education & Research Foundation, on the Board of Overseers of the RAND Institute for Civil Justice and as a faculty member for the Institute for Healthcare Improvement (IHI).

“Richard is a committed, tireless advocate for the MPL industry,” said Mary-Lou Misrahy, ARM, chair of the MPL Association, CEO of Alestri Insurance Company, and CEO Emeritus of Physicians Insurance A Mutual Company. “His perspective as a physician and his extensive knowledge of the practice of medicine are key to the consideration of critical issues in the MPL industry.”

“We are very pleased to honor Dr. Anderson for his extraordinary commitment to the physician community, the MPL industry, and this Association,” said Brian K. Atchinson, president and CEO of the MPL Association. “We are grateful for his remarkable dedication of time and energy over the years to support this organization and its members.”

The MPL Association Award of Excellence in Honor of Peter Sweetland, established in 1993 by MPL Association’s Board of Directors, was created in honor of the late Peter Sweetland, one of the MPL Association’s chief architects and most fervent supporters. The award recognizes an individual who has provided exemplary service to the industry and to the MPL Association, and who epitomizes the high ideals and ethics for which Peter Sweetland stood.

Due to the cancellation of 2020 MPL Association Conference, the award will be presented to Dr. Anderson at a future date.

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The MPL Association Elects James Q. Swift as Board Chair, Appoints Three New Officers

May 8, 2020 by matray

James Q. Swift, DDS, FACS, director and chair of OMS National Insurance Co. (OMSNIC) and its wholly owned subsidiary, Fortress Insurance Co., has been selected to serve as the chair of the Medical Professional Liability Association (MPL Association). He is the first dentist to serve as chair of the organization.

Serving since 2014 as director and chair of OMSNIC, a medical professional liability insurance company with 100% specialization in oral and maxillofacial surgery, Dr. Swift is also a professor in the Division of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery at the University of Minnesota School of Dentistry. Dr. Swift is a former president of the American Dental Education Association as well as former President of the American Board of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgery. In 2009, he received the Distinguished Service Award from the American Dental Education Association. In 2015, he received the Robert V. Walker Distinguished Service Award from the American Association of Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeons. Dr. Swift practices full-scope oral and maxillofacial surgery in the Minneapolis/St. Paul area.

“The MPL industry faces unprecedented change and challenge, particularly as the COVID-19 pandemic continues to unfold,” said Dr. Swift. “I look forward to working with the Association board members, its member companies, affiliate partners, and staff during this historic time. The work of the MPL Association to advance and defend the interests of its members and to promote the quality delivery of healthcare is more critical now than ever.”

In addition to naming Dr. Swift its chair, the MPL Association — the leading international organization representing the MPL insurance community — elected three new board members to three-year terms.

Sarah E. Scher, JD, RN, is chief executive officer of the Cooperative of American Physicians, Inc. (CAP) and of the Mutual Protection Trust (MPT). Ms. Scher, who has an extensive leadership background in healthcare, law, patient safety, risk management, captive insurance, and medical professional liability, directs all CAP businesses, which provide access to medical professional liability protection, patient safety education, and risk management services.

Christopher D. Smith, MCIC Vermont president and chief executive officer, has more than 25 years of experience in the medical liability insurance industry beginning at Arthur Andersen, LLP, where he served as a consultant to several large insurance companies. Later at EMCOL, Ltd., he provided consulting services and helped manage several large alternative risk insurance programs.

Gerald Zarlengo, MD, became the chairman/CEO of COPIC Companies in January 2019. Prior to this, he served as a member of COPIC’s Board of Directors and was the founder/partner of Midtown Obstetrics & Gynecology in Denver.

The MPL Association Board of Directors also appointed John H. Mize, CEO of SVMIC, to serve as vice chair and Christine Tomkins, MD, CEO of the Medical Defence Union, to serve as secretary.

“We are gratified to have these leaders offer their extensive expertise and knowledge to the MPL Association,” said MPL Association President and CEO Brian K. Atchinson. “We look forward to working with them as we continue to advance the mission of the organization and its members.”

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PLUS Graduates 100 from Cyber University, Adds to Distance Education Offerings

May 6, 2020 by matray

Last week, more than 100 PLUS members participated in PLUS’s virtual Cyber University.  While the PLUS Cyber University has traditionally been conducted in-person, this year’s virtual education was part of a planned 2020 strategic initiative to provide distance education to a broader audience. Attendance at the event more than doubled this year, proving the demand for PLUS to continue to provide quality education in a virtual space, and especially in light of the current circumstances.



This is the third year of PLUS Cyber University, and registrants attended six live sessions over three days. 



“The program content is incredibly strong, so the focus was on how to take an in-person event and continue to make it meaningful as a virtual one,” said Megan Moore, director of education and professional development at PLUS. Topics included: legal foundations, evolution of cyber coverage, interplay among lines, underwriting, breach responses, 1st and 3rd party claims, risk management, and breech scenarios.



“As we transfer this program to virtual, we made sure to include opportunities for attendees to reflect on what they’ve learned and apply it to their own experience as well as connect with each other outside of the session,” Moore said.

PLUS plans to continue to expand on its distance education offerings.



“Over the last few years, we have been ramping up our ability to provide online and virtual education” said Robbie Thompson, CEO of PLUS. “While PLUS will always offer outstanding in-person networking and education events, we knew that focusing on other ways members can also get professional development was critical to PLUS continuing to serve the professional liability industry.”



PLUS also recently converted most of the sessions for the Healthcare and Medical Professional Liability Symposium to a virtual platform. The in-person Symposium was cancelled due to COVID-19, yet the content has still been successfully viewed by hundreds of individuals. Additionally, PLUS continues to convert its paper based PLUS curriculum modules to Online eLearning modules. With this format, students can work through the module content, complete the exam, and work towards their RPLU Designation all online. The quality content and rigor of the coursework remains, and this format enables people to learn at their own pace.



“The PLUS RPLU Online eLearning modules have been in high demand this year. We can’t get them converted fast enough to keep up with where people are in the curriculum process. The users love them!” said Thompson.

 

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Fitch Ratings Affirms ‘A’ Ratings, ‘Stable’ Outlook for The Doctors Company Group

April 30, 2020 by matray

Fitch Ratings has affirmed its "A" (Strong) Insurer Financial Strength ratings for The Doctors Company and its wholly owned subsidiaries, collectively referred to as The Doctors Company Group. Fitch also announced that the rating outlook for all ratings is "Stable."

The ratings are based on Fitch's current assessment of the impact of the coronavirus pandemic, including its economic impact.

Fitch noted that The Doctors Company has a strong business profile as the number two writer in medical professional liability insurance in the United States. The Doctors Company is one of the few companies in its industry positioned to meet the trend of healthcare providers moving from independent and smaller group practices to employment with hospitals and larger medical groups, Fitch noted.

Fitch commented that The Doctors Company's year-end 2019 capital position "was very strong" and also pointed out that the company's loss reserve position is a positive factor to the rating.

The "A" with "Stable Outlook" ratings include:

The Doctors Company, an Interinsurance Exchange
TDC Specialty Insurance Company
TDC National Assurance Company
The Doctors Company Risk Retention Group, a Reciprocal Exchange

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The Doctors Company Hires New Top Claims Executive

April 28, 2020 by matray

The Doctors Company announced the hiring of Marco Spadacenta to be senior vice president of claims, effective April 27. In his new role, Spadacenta oversees the claims function nationally of the admitted medical professional liability (MPL) unit, reporting directly to Robert White, executive vice president, MPL.

Spadacenta most recently served as senior vice president of the healthcare malpractice claims department for AIG, overseeing all healthcare malpractice claims in the U.S., beginning in 2011. He had been with AIG since 1997.

“We are pleased to have Marco join our leadership team,” said White. “With 30 years of litigation and claims management experience, he brings in-depth industry claims knowledge and courtroom insight. He lives the values we aspire to as an organization to protect the practice of good medicine.”

Spadacenta held several executive claims positions with AIG, including senior vice president of the asbestos claims department, where he oversaw large-scale, complex asbestos-related losses, as well as post-9/11 exposure claims. Prior to that, he served as vice president of the toxic tort claims department, handling claims involving asbestos, benzene, tobacco, silica, clean room, pharmaceutical/nutraceutical, medical equipment and chemical exposure pending nationwide. Before joining AIG, Spadacenta practiced law in the New York City area for seven years, defending bodily injury claims in the general liability, medical malpractice, maritime, aviation, complex tort, product liability and auto sectors.

“I am honored to lead The Doctors Company's claims efforts at a time when healthcare in the United States is in the midst of a seismic shift,” Spadacenta said. “Understanding malpractice claims trends is critical now more than ever, particularly with the rise in the severity of verdicts. I am proud to join a company that is known for analyzing its claims, sharing this data to advance the practice of good medicine, and relentlessly defending its members should litigation arise.”

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Health Coalition on Liability and Access Announces 2020 Board of Directors, Executive Committee

April 24, 2020 by matray

The Health Coalition on Liability and Access (HCLA) announced the organization's Board of Directors and Executive Committee members for 2020, following the annual meeting held earlier this month.

As Sustaining Members of the HCLA, Board seats were granted to the American Association of Neurological Surgeons/Congress of Neurological Surgeons, the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons, the American Medical Association, the Cooperative of American Physicians, MLMIC Insurance, the Medical Professional Liability (MPL) Association, NORCAL Group and Physicians Insurance - A Mutual Company.

The American College of Surgeons and American Hospital Association were confirmed as Contributing Member Representatives, and the American Osteopathic Association, as a Regular Member Representative.

The Board of Directors elected the following representatives to serve as Officers and Executive Committee Members for the year:

• Mike Stinson, MPL Association - Chair
• Katie Orrico, American Association of Neurological Surgeons – Vice-chair
• Catherine Hayes, American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons – Secretary
• George Cox, American Medical Association - At-large Executive Committee Member

"Given the particularly heightened awareness of the need for medical liability protection in the wake of a global pandemic, I am thankful for the opportunity to continue to advance the HCLA's agenda by reducing medical lawsuit abuse through comprehensive action at the federal level," said HCLA Chair Mike Stinson.

The HCLA will also be working through its focus committees on specific initiatives. Elizabeth Healy of The Doctors Company will serve as Legislative Committee chair, Dr. Stuart Weinstein, M.D. will continue as spokesperson and lead the Public Affairs Committee, and Simit Pandya of the MPL Association will lead the group's Grassroots Committee.

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Institute for Justice Calls on States to Allow Nurse Practitioners to Help with COVID-19 Relief

April 17, 2020 by matray

The Institute for Justice (IJ) sent open letters to six states calling on authorities to suspend requirements that nurse practitioners may only work in hospitals under the supervision of a physician. The supervision requirements in California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia prevent many nurse practitioners from helping patients in overburdened hospitals, even as volunteers.

“Physician supervision requirements are completely unnecessary and are hurting states’ efforts to respond to COVID-19,” said IJ senior attorney Erica Smith. “Nurse practitioners want to be able to volunteer now, but they are getting caught in red tape.”

Twenty-eight states and the District of Columbia do not require any supervision for nurse practitioners or only require supervision at the beginning of their careers. The remaining 22 states impose myriad restrictions ranging from requiring limited supervision for only certain types of practices to requiring full-time supervision. California, Florida, Georgia, North Carolina, Texas and Virginia have some of the strictest physician supervision requirements in the country.

Multiple organizations and individuals, including the U.S. Secretary of Health & Human Services, have called on states to lift restrictions on nurse practitioners during the pandemic. And many have. Kentucky, Louisiana, Massachusetts, Michigan, New Jersey, New York and Wisconsin have already loosened or lifted supervision requirements.

“At a time when we need healthcare workers, many states have lifted unnecessary restrictions on nurse practitioners,” said IJ special projects manager Kendall Morton. “Unfortunately, some states have done nothing. The Institute for Justice hopes that our open letters will spur these states to take action.”

Multiple studies, including an extensive 2018 report from the Brookings Institution, have found that empowering nurse practitioners could have significant benefits for healthcare efficiency without sacrificing quality of care.

Nurse practitioners across the country have struggled to find physicians to supervise them to work for a variety of reasons. Some physicians are unable to supervise nurse practitioners because of limitations in their medical malpractice insurance, while others cannot take on additional responsibilities during this chaotic time. In addition, nurse practitioners must often pay physicians thousands of dollars for supervision.

The Institute for Justice (IJ) is a national nonprofit organization that has worked to remove and reduce licensing restrictions for 30 years, including in medical professions. IJ has sued several states regarding regulations for certificates of need, telemedicine and physician dispensing of medications. It drafts model legislation and advises state legislatures on licensing matters nationwide. According to IJ, the letters are part of its overall efforts to respond to the current health and economic crisis by working to cut red tape hampering individuals’ ability to help one another.

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AM Best to Host Free Webinar on the State of the U.S. Medical Professional Liability Sector

April 16, 2020 by matray

AM Best will host a complimentary webinar on April 28, 2020, at 10 a.m. (EDT). AM Best analytic personnel and insurance industry leaders will review the state of the U.S. medical professional liability insurance sector. The panel will examine financial results, underwriting, loss trends, regulatory and industry developments, along with developments among alternative risk providers. The discussion follows the publication of AM Best’s annual special report on the state of the medical professional liability market.

Register now: www.ambest.com/webinars/MPL20.

Panelists include:

• Sharon Marks, associate director, AM Best;
• David Blades, associate director, AM Best;
• Brian Atchinson, president and chief executive officer, Medical Professional Liability Association;
• Jim Hurley, consulting actuary, Willis Towers Watson; and
• Joseph G. Murphy, chief operating officer, Coverys.

Attendees can submit questions during registration or by emailing webinars@ambest.com. The event will be streamed in video and audio formats, and playback will be available to registered viewers shortly after the event.

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MICA Declares $12M Dividend to Help Policyholders Through COVID-19 Pandemic

April 16, 2020 by matray

Mutual Insurance Company of Arizona (MICA) announced that its Board of Trustees has declared a special dividend to provide economic relief to its members.

The company will distribute a $12 million dividend to all members with policies in-force as of April 30, 2020. The dividend will be credited to policyholder accounts on June 1, 2020.

“We have been closely monitoring the evolution of this pandemic and stand to support our members who face unprecedented practice challenges and economic hurdles. Like many other businesses, healthcare practitioners throughout Arizona, Colorado, Nevada and Utah are feeling the broad effects of this pandemic,” said Ron Malpiedi, senior vice president and chief operating officer. “MICA’s financial strength allows us to respond with this special dividend to our policyholders with great confidence.”

“It’s no secret that the healthcare community at large has been called to the frontline of this pandemic,” said James Carland, MD., president and chairman of the board. “While we give thanks and commend the men and women working countless hours to care for their patients, we are also aware that physicians and surgical groups in private practice are experiencing economic fall-out and pain. Working under these conditions creates increased stress and concern for potential liability exposure. As a physician-run mutual insurer, it’s our responsibility to assist our members in maintaining proper medical professional liability coverage to alleviate stress and to help ensure the sustainability of our profession.”

In addition to this special dividend, MICA is waiving cancellations for non-payment of premium until June 30, 2020.

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