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  • December 24, 2019

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  • What’s the Most Common Reason Physicians Get Sued? Which Specialties Are Sued the Most? Find Out with Medscape’s Annual Look at Medical Liability Trends!

    malet and stethoscopeMedscape has released its yearly report, chock full of metrics pertaining to lawsuits against physicians. The data is based on responses to a survey of more than 4,300 physicians representing 29 medical specialties in the United States. The doctors shared whether and why they were sued. 

    Some of the key findings include:

    • A whopping 59% of physicians surveyed have been named in at least one medical liability lawsuit in their career.
    • Specialists are sued more often than primary care physicians, the top category being surgeons (general and specialized).
    • Failure to diagnose, or a delayed diagnosis, was the reason cited by one-third of the physicians who had been sued.
    • Only a small percentage of lawsuits that went to trial were decided against the physician.
    •  Illinois is #3 in the top 10 states for medical liability lawsuits.

    Read the 2019 Medscape Report



  • Before Providing an Informal Consult, Know the Risks

    physician discussing liability risksWhile having lunch with a colleague, a case comes up and they pick your brain for a few minutes about what you would do in their shoes. No problem, right?

    It depends.

    If you’re not careful with informal “curbside consults” like these, you could expose yourself to liability risk. Recently, a Minnesota court improperly held there is no such thing as an informal consult, and it’s possible you could owe a duty of care even if you never treat the patient yourself – so it’s critical that everybody be on the same page. 

    That’s why ISMIE offers an entry on Curbside Consults in our resource library. This resource offers guidance on how to evaluate the nature of a consult, when to insist on a formal consult, and other ways to limit your risk in these situations. Whether you are the one asking for the consult or the one providing it, this knowledge is vital to protecting you, your colleagues and your patients.

    Questions? Contact the ISMIE risk management team by  email or phone at 800-782-4767. 



  • North Dakota Supreme Court Rules that a Physician Does Not Owe a Duty of Care to Third Parties

    empty courtroomAt ISMIE, we monitor state and national medical litigation trends. Recently, North Dakota’s high court ruled in a case of first impression regarding third party culpability in a medical liability lawsuit. 

    The case Cichos, et. al. v. Dakota Eye Inst., PC centered on a whether a physician owed a duty to an injured third party for failure to warn a patient that his vision was below the minimum standard needed to operate a motor vehicle. The lawsuit was filed against an ophthalmologist following a fatal car accident caused by the visually-impaired patient. The suit claimed, among other things, that the physician owed a duty to third parties which has never been the law in North Dakota. The court examined rulings in other jurisdictions which also declined to impose such a duty, including Massachusetts and Iowa. The court distinguished cases of warning third parties versus jurisdictions that upheld allegations for injuries to third parties caused by actual medical treatment or providing medications to a patient who injured a third party.  

    The North Dakota Supreme Court rejected this legal theory on the grounds that North Dakota law, with the facts presented, does not extend medical liability to third parties and declined to extend the physician’s duty. Furthermore, the court considered how third-party liability might affect how doctors treat their patients, confidentiality of patient information, and other public policy arguments including increased litigation.

    The court ruled that a physician may owe a duty of care to third parties if the danger in question was caused as a side effect of treatments provided by the physician, but such a duty did not exist solely because of the patient's medical condition.



  • Highlights of New Laws Related to Medicine - Effective January 1

    map of IllinoisView a roundup of all of Illinois’ new laws. Below are highlights for some of the notable health-related bills passed in 2019.

    Medical Cannabis in Schools (SB 455/PA 101-0370): Requires all schools (public, charter, private) to allow a school nurse or administrator to administer medical cannabis to students who are registered, qualifying patients while on school premises, at a school-sponsored activity or before or after normal school activities. Authorizes all schools to allow self-administration of medical cannabis if it takes place under the direct supervision of a school nurse or administrator. 

    On a related note, legislation (SB 2023/ PA 101-0363) making the state's medical cannabis program permanent also passed this year and took effect August 9, 2019 when signed by Governor Pritzker. 

    Skin Cancer Screening (HB 3113/PA 101-0500): Amends the Illinois Insurance Code to mandate coverage of one annual office visit for the purposes of a whole body examination for lesions suspicious for skin cancer. 

    Personal Information Protection (SB 1624/PA 101-0343): Provides that data breaches affecting more than 500 Illinois residents as a result of a single breach must be reported in the most expedient time possible to the Attorney General, who will report all data breaches by February 1 of each year. 

    Pharmacists Administer Injections (SB 1715/PA 101-0349): Provides that the "practice of pharmacy" includes the administration of injections of long-term antipsychotic medications pursuant to a valid prescription by a physician. 

    Mammogram Dense Tissue (SB 1506/PA 101-0555): Mammography notice requires patient notification of a mammogram indicates the presence of dense breast tissue. 

    Reporting of Child Abuse or Neglect in Hospitals (HB 831/PA 101-0043): Requires the Department of Children and Family Services to notify the Illinois Department of Public Health and the Illinois Department of Healthcare and Family Services of all reports involving children alleged to have been abused or neglected while hospitalized.

    View a roundup of all of the new laws in Illinois here or check out the Illinois State Medical Society’s 2019 Legislative Report for a deeper dive on health-related legislative activity championed by the society.  




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