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FMG Law Blog Line

Archive for June, 2012

Electronic Medical Records – Saving More Than Trees

Posted on: June 29th, 2012

By: Scott Rees

A recent Harvard study found medical malpractice claims dropped in Massachusetts after doctors began using electronic records.  The study tracked 275 doctors, and of those, 33 were targeted by malpractice claims.  Only two of the malpractice claims occurred after those physicians had switched to electronic medical records.  This is not a surprising result given the fact that positive patient outcomes, and the corresponding reduction of malpractice claims, demand medical providers to be accurate, efficient, and consistent in their treatment and care. 

Electronic medical records facilitate this by allowing physicians to use computers to track patients instead of relying on paper files, which cuts down on errors by making it easier to spot problems such as medication conflicts and allergies, and reconcile the patient’s history. 

The question is, why don’t all medical providers switch to electronic medical record keeping? 

The answers to date have been costs, resistance to change, fear that plaintiffs could find mistakes easier, and fear of electronic glitches.  However, if additional studies return similar results, it is undeniable that the trend will be to move toward electronic records.  Patients, medical providers, insurers, and the trees, will demand it.

If you would like to read more about the study, please click on the following link:  http://health.usnews.com/health-news/news/articles/2012/06/25/e-records-linked-to-fewer-malpractice-claims

Thoughts and questions are always welcome.

Supreme Court Upholds Health Care Mandate, but States May Avoid Medicaid Expansion

Posted on: June 28th, 2012

By Ben Mathis

In a 5-4 opinion authored by Chief Justice John Roberts, the Supreme Court upheld the key “individual mandate” provision of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act.

Contrary to early media reports, however, a divided and more complicated part of the decision gives individual States the right to avoid participating in the expansion of medicaid eligibility, which is a core component of the Act. (more…)

The Eleventh Circuit Rules First Restrictive Covenant Law as Unconstitutional

Posted on: June 27th, 2012

By: Brad Adler

For those that have followed the saga over the passage of the new restrictive covenant law, the Eleventh Circuit (without much fanfare) has chimed in on the issue and ruled that the Georgia legislature’s first attempt to pass the employer-friendly statute (known as HB 173) was constitutionally deficient. 

As a result, the Court concluded that HB 173 was unconstitutional and void.  The result is that any restrictive covenant agreement signed by an employee before May 11, 2011 will be governed by pre-HB 173 law (which is very pro-employee). 

The one piece of good news from this decision is that the Court confirmed that the legislature’s second attempt to pass the new statute (HB 30) was legally proper and applies to agreements signed on or after May 11, 2011. 

For those employers that had employees sign new restrictive covenant agreements between November 2, 2010 and May 10, 2011 based on the assumption that HB 173 applied, it will be necessary to get those employees to resign the agreement for the covenants to fall under the new law (HB 30).  The Eleventh Circuit’s decision is Becham v. Synthes USA, 2012 WL 1994604 (11th Cir. June 4, 2012).

Georgia High Court Expands Waiver of Coverage Defenses

Posted on: June 27th, 2012

By Philip W. Savrin

Last week, the Supreme Court of Georgia issued its decision in Hoover v. Maxum Indemnity Company finding that an insurer had not preserved its right to disclaim on defenses that were not asserted adequately in the disclaimer letter.  To briefly review the facts, Hoover sued his employer (EWES) for injuries sustained while climbing from a roof on a house where he had been sent by his employer.  Maxum received its first notice from EWES two years later and disclaimed based on an exclusion for injuries to employees.  The disclaimer letter reserved the right to disclaim on other bases, including the extent to which EWES had not complied with the notice provision.  A demand for policy limits of $1 million was rejected.  After the liability case went forward to judgment of $16.4 million, EWES assigned its insurance claims to Hoover who then sued Maxum for coverage and for failing to settle. (more…)

High Court Splits on Arizona Law — Is Georgia Next?

Posted on: June 26th, 2012

By Ben Mathis and Kelly Morrison

In a decision that left both sides claiming victory, the Supreme Court struck down several portions of immigration legislation by the State of Arizona, but also upheld a key part of the law that may further the trend of State legislation attempting to restrict undocumented individuals. (more…)