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Appeals Court: Malpractice Damage Caps Unconstitutional Print E-mail
Written by FHInews   
Monday, 31 October 2016 18:12

The News Service of Florida reports, via Health News Florida, on Oct 27, 2016:
The 2nd District Court of Appeal ruled against Peace River Regional Medical Center in a lawsuit filed against the hospital and doctors by Iala Suarez, who alleged that negligent care when she was pregnant led to her daughter being born with severe neurological injuries.
A jury awarded $5.25 million in non-economic damages to Suarez and her daughter, with the hospital responsible for a portion of that amount.
In Wednesday's ruling, written by Judge Robert Morris and joined by judges Patricia Kelly and Nelly Khouzam, the panel said...that the limits were unconstitutional.
(Editor's Note: The FL Supreme Court in 2014 ruled that the caps were unconstitutional in a wrongful-death case involving a woman who died after giving birth in a Northwest Florida hospital. The current case involves a personal-injury claim, rather than a wrongful-death claim.)
According to Matt Gracey, President, Danna-Gracey:
This is significant but it will be appealed and the FL Supreme Court will rule on it as well. We expect with the current FSC composition all of the caps will be thrown out, further destabilizing the malpractice insurance market that is on the verge of seeing increasing pricing due to the increased claims activity and higher judgment amounts, combined with fierce competition among the insurance carriers.

(Editor's Note: FSC=Florida Supreme Court. The composition refers to the more liberal wing of the court, mostly Christ appointees, who have sided repeatedly with the plaintiff bar on the caps and lots of other rulings.)

Read more in the current issue of Week in Review>>

Last Updated on Monday, 21 November 2016 18:30
Florida Workers’ Comp Rates Going Up Nearly 15% Print E-mail
Written by Tom Murphy   
Thursday, 27 October 2016 07:01

Less than two months ago I wrote an article titled “Prepare for Increase in Workers’ Comp Premiums.” It is official: The Florida Office of Insurance Regulations (OIR) has issued its final order approving the National Council on Compensation Insurance (NCCI) request to increase rates on a statewide average of 14.5%. This was less than the 19.6% increase the NCCI requested. The final order was approved on October 4, 2016 and becomes effective December 1, 2016.

The original rate filing requesting the 19.6% increase was filed in May 2016 and amended in June. This amended filing was used to approve the new rates in anticipation of the future impact of the recent Florida Supreme Court decisions involving the Castellanos and Westphal cases, as well as the legislatively mandated updates to the Florida Workers’ Compensation Health Care Providers Reimbursement (HCPR) Manual. The NCCI filing that was approved is as follows:
  • A 10.1% statewide average increase for the April 28th Florida Supreme Court decision in the Castellanos case, which found the mandatory attorney fee schedule in section 440.34, Florida Statutes, unconstitutional as a violation of due process under both the Florida and United States Constitutions.
  • A 2.2% statewide average rate increase for the June 9th Florida Supreme Court decision in the Westphal case, in which the Florida Supreme Court found the 104-week statutory limitation on temporary total disability benefits in Section 440.15(2)(a), Florida Statutes, unconstitutional because it causes a statutory gap in benefits in violation of an injured worker’s constitutional right of access to the courts. The court reinstated the prior 260-week limitation that was in effect after the 1994 law change.
  • A 1.8% statewide average rate increase related to updates within the Florida Workers’ Compensation HCPR manual, per Senate Bill 1402.
The current Office of Insurance Regulation rate-hike approval makes it very clear that the Florida legislature needs to start working immediately to counteract the adverse effects of these three filings. In particular, legislators need to find solutions to attorney fees increasing dramatically because of the Castellanos decision that has overturned years of stability in the Florida workers’ compensation system by controlling attorneys’ fees and that ultimately brought Florida from the 45th worst system in the country to the top three best systems after the reforms were passed in 2003.

Tom Murphy is a workers’ compensation and medical malpractice insurance specialist agent with Danna-Gracey in downtown Delray Beach. He can be reached at (561) 276-3553, (800) 966-2120, or

Last Updated on Thursday, 27 October 2016 07:10
Narrow Networks: Savings at What Cost? Print E-mail
Written by Austin Frakt | The Incidental Economist   
Monday, 24 October 2016 16:12

Researchers at the Leonard Davis Institute at the University o Pennsylvania analyzed the relationship between network size and premiums for plans offered in the Affordable Care Act marketplaces. Plans with very narrow networks (covering care by less than 10 percent of physicians) charged 6.7 percent lower premiums than plans with much broader networks (covering care by up to 60 percent of physicians). This translates into an annual savings for an individual of between $212 and $339, depending on age and family size. For a young family of four, the savings could reach nearly $700 per year.

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FL Avoids Direct Hit from Hurricane Matthew; Can't Steer Clear of Human and Economic Costs Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Monday, 10 October 2016 18:24

Starting Thursday afternoon (10/6/16), the storm moved up the Atlantic Coast as a very dangerous Category 3 hurricane, bringing torrential rain, powerful winds, a storm surge and flooding. After Florida and Georgia avoided a direct hit, the storm touched down in South Carolina in the late morning on Saturday (10/8/16) as a Category 1 hurricane with maximum sustained winds of 75 mph, according to the National Hurricane Center.
Florida hospitals prepared to get hit by the monster storm Matthew, with many facilities altering their normal operations, and a number of facilities closing and evacuating patients.

Providers scrambled to address the needs of their most vulnerable patients. For example, Dr. Maina Gatonye, Chief Medical Officer for Chen Senior Medical Centers in South Florida, worked the phones for several days, calling patients with conditions like diabetes and kidney failure. In the run up to the storm, staff identified the most at risk 400 to 600 patients.

The U.S. death toll was nineteen. Six people lost their lives in Florida due to the storm. In some cases emergency responders were unable to immediately dispatch services due to the severity of the storm.

The economic cost of the storm is estimated to be between $25 and $70 billion.

It's a good news, bad news scenario with regard to the Zika virus. On the one hand powerful storms tend to blow away the local mosquito population. Meanwhile, debris and destruction from the storm can create new mosquito breeding sites, pooled with water from all the rain. People then go outside during the recovery period, providing ample opportunity for mosquitoes to feed.

The hurricane baby thing is real. OB-GYNs should note that there is evidence that starting about nine months after a hurricane, you can expect a baby boom.

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Last Updated on Monday, 24 October 2016 16:02
Chris Bosh's NBA Career Likely Over, According to GM Riley Print E-mail
Written by Jeffrey Herschler   
Tuesday, 04 October 2016 18:39

Why Are Athletes Vulnerable to Blood Clots?

According to Miami Heat General Manager Pat Riley, All-Star Chris Bosh is likely facing the end of his NBA basketball career. This is the latest chapter in an ongoing story of Bosh's struggle with persistent blood clots. Like a lot of Florida healthcare professionals who are also sports fans, I've often wondered why someone obviously in very good physical shape, youthful and presumably on a high-quality, nutrient-dense diet would suffer from blood clots. Aren't blood clot sufferers typically much older with profound cardiovascular disease? I had a chance to catch up with Hollywood based Susan Fox, DO, an expert in vein and vascular diagnosis and treatment.

" Athletes tend to have low heart rates causing blood stagnation. They tend to get injured often and sprain and fracture limbs or just bruise themselves causing contusions to the muscles and blood vessels. They tend to fly on planes, often long distances, to games and events, are dehydrated from games and practices and all of these factors tend to increase the likelihood of an elite athlete forming a clot. As well, some people just are more prone to blood clots. There are genetic factors that can increase the likelihood of a clot especially in people under 40 with recurrent clots. Sometimes we are able to find these by blood or genetic testing. Some we haven't discovered yet ," stated Dr. Fox.

" Also be aware that arterial and venous clots are different beasts. Arterial clots are due to plaque build up in older people. Venous clots can occur post injury, fracture, long flight, due to immobilization, post surgery, due to birth control pills, from hormones and genetic factors and often a combination of the above. Diets don't usually alter the risk of venous clots ," she added.

Last Updated on Tuesday, 04 October 2016 18:44
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