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Personal Injury and Workers’ Compensation Law Round-Up – February 2014

Written by Ankin Law Office

Here’s what other personal injury and workers’ compensation lawyers have been talking about over the past few weeks:

  • Hospital Promotion: Poor Judgment Looks Like Conflict of Interest (Protect Patients Blog). This article highlights the conflicts of interest that surround the use of surgical robots by many doctors. As the article states, many doctors are being paid to advertise for the DaVinci robotic surgical device and “[w]hen you are paid to promote a technology for which your patients also pay when they are subject to it, it looks as though cashing in is more important than ensuring that a procedure is the best possible treatment for the problem at hand.”

Robotic surgeries have come under much scrutiny lately. According to Bloomberg News, there has been an increase in the number of reported adverse events associated with robotic surgeries, including 70 deaths since 2009. Bloomberg says that reports of injuries linked to robotic surgery more than doubled in the first eight months of 2013 compared with the same period in 2012, and a new study by researchers from Johns Hopkins indicates that complications from robotic-assisted surgeries have gone “vastly underreported.”

  • Temp Worker Regulations Around the World (Pro Publica). As this article shows, the U.S. has some of the weakest labor protections for temporary workers in the developed world. Other countries have adopted regulations that limit the length of temp assignments, guarantee equal pay for equal work, and restrict companies from hiring temps for hazardous tasks.
  • Throw The Book At ‘Em (Workers Compensation Law Blog). The author of this article brings to light the prevalence of fraudulent conduct within workers’ compensation systems, including employer fraud and abuse from medical providers. The author points to another article indicating that a California doctor faces up to 10 years in prison after he pleaded guilty to paying kickbacks in a $500 million fraud scheme relating to spinal fusions and bribing a state senator to delay legislation to repeal the separate reimbursement for spinal hardware.

According to this article, approximately 90% of the fraudulent bills submitted by Drobot were for workers’ compensation claims and, according to the criminal complaint, Drobot billed California workers’ compensation carriers about $500 million for spinal surgeries that were the result of an estimated $20 million to $50 million in kickbacks to “dozens of doctors, chiropractors, marketers and others for their referring workers’ compensation patients to Pacific Hospital for spinal surgeries, other types of surgeries, magnetic resonance imaging, toxicology, durable medical equipment and other services.”

  • The Disconnect Between Tort Laws And Where Doctors Live (The Pop Tort). In this article, the Pop Tort looks to news articles and editorials that debunk the myth that medical malpractice fears are driving doctors away from certain locations. The article points to an editorial from Iowa’s Des Moines Register stating the following: “A few years ago the Office of Statewide Clinical Education Programs in the U of I Carver College of Medicine tracked down physicians who departed Iowa in 2007 and 2008 to find out why they left. Of the 220 who responded, only one doctor said the most important reason for relocation was professional liability exposure. That’s right. One of 220 physicians. Only two listed government reimbursements as the most important reason.”  The Pop Tort article also points to a data from New York’s Center for Health Workforce Studies finding that the main reasons that doctors leave New York are proximity to family, inadequate salary, and visa issues – not malpractice liability concerns. 

Howard Ankin of Ankin Law Office LLC handles  workers’ compensation and personal injury cases. Mr. Ankin can be reached at (312) 600-0000 and howard@ankinlaw.com.

Categories: Medical Malpractice