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Medscape reports that medical malpractice rates in three bellwether medical specialities are essentially flat in 2015, meaning there is little increase or decrease in the rates.

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Rates for obstetricions/gynecologists, internists and general surgeons are essentially unchanged from 2014. Given that malpractice suits are on the decline, this shouldn’t come as a surprise, but in the past market forces have shown that actual malpractice lawsuit numbers and insurance rates have little correlation.

If you have questions regarding malpractice, please see .

The St. Louis Post Dispatch, in an in-depth article, reported that St. Anthony’s Medical Center in south St. Louis County, failed to report Dr. Surendra Chaganti to the Missouri State Board of Healing Arts, the state board that “regulates” doctors.

Dr. Chaganti, apparently one of the busiest psychiatrists in St. Louis County, was accused of negligent care of multiple patients, according to the Post Dispatch story. When St. Anthony’s took action to revoke his hospital privileges, Dr. Chaganti responded by suing St. Anthony’s. Dr. Chaganti was represented in the suit by his brother, attorney Naren Chaganti. Attorney Chaganti also represented his brother in several other lawsuits brought against others who accused Dr. Chaganti of improper care. The suit against St. Anthony’s was ultimately settled with an agreement that Dr. Chaganti would resign his privileges but St. Anthony’s would not report his resignation or their action to the National Practitioner’s Data Bank, a federally mandated repository for information on doctor discipline and malpractice. The data bank is not available to the general public, but hospitals and malpractice insurers have access and use the information in making decisions regarding whether to grant privileges or offer insurance.

The problems with reporting physicians for sub-optimal care are myriad, but in this particular case two specific problems are highlighted. First, St. Anthony’s entered into an agreement, which was approved by a judge, to not report Dr. Chaganti to the data base. By the data base’s definitions, reporting should have occurred. Resignations made after action is taken to revoke privileges is a reportable event and St. Anthony’s should have reported him. Their failure to do so apparently only came to light after a series of events in which Dr. Chaganti attempted to obtain privileges elsewhere and the other hospitals suspected or discovered the failure to report.

The second problem this highlights is the fact that the National Practitioner Data Bank is kept secret from those who would most benefit from being able to know if a doctor has been found to have given bad patient care–patients! By keeping this information secret, the public is being deprived of its right to make an informed decision.

You can read the complete Post Dispatch story here.

The Houston Chronicle reported today that three deaths from smoke inhalation as a result of a 2007 Houstan office fire were the result of “pollution,” as in smoke inhalation. The very idea of this is ludicrous in the extreme. The insurance company is trying to get out of paying for the losses suffered by three families due to their family members deaths. Fires cause smoke, smoke contains pollutants, to be sure. But to say that death caused by smoke inhalations is a result of pollution is simply beyond belief. Keep this in mind next time you hear a story about a crazy lawyer suing for a million dollars for a lost pair of pants. For every “missing pants” case, there are literally thousands where insurance companies have adopted these tortured readings of their own policies in an attempt to avoid their responsibilities.

You’ve been injured, whether it was in a car accident, work place injury, or due to medical malpractice or as a result of a faulty product. Have you ever thought about how you talk to your doctor about these injuries? No? Well you should …

Doctors write office notes and reports about every office visit they have with you, and every time they see you in the hospital. Doctors are the historians of your medical condition. What they write can affect any legal case you may have. Whatever the doctor documents about your injury or condition is what the insurance company, defense attorney, judge and jury will see. And all too often, if you try to say “that isn’t what I said!” who do you think that insurance company, defense attorney, judge and jury are going to believe?

Doctors are just like everyone else. They want to be successful at what they do. They want their patients to get better. As a result, doctors records tend to be biased in favor of recovery. I’m not saying it is an intentional bias. In most cases, it is not. It is just that their job is to make you better and they want to believe that they are achieving that goal.

So … how does what you say to your doctor affect what they write? Simple: unless you are 100% recovered, never tell a doctor “I feel fine” or “I feel better.” We all know that those statements are usually followed by an “except ….” “Doc, I feel fine, except my left leg is still killing me. I can’t bend it the way I should and the pain wakes me at night.” If your doctor has been treating this condition for awhile, chances are, his records will record: “Patient feels fine” or “patient improved.” In fact, you aren’t. And you’ve just created a hurtle for you and your attorney to overcome.

So, resist the temptation to say “I’m better” or “I’m fine” if you aren’t. Prepare for your visit with your doctor. Think about how your injury or condition has been since you last saw your doctor. Be prepared to tell him, quickly and succinctly, each of your complaints. Tell him or her what triggers any pain. Tell them if it hurst after certain activities or at certain times of the day. Be prepared to give them examples of things that your injuries have kept you from doing, or have made difficult to do, such as housework, your job, recreational activities. Don’t exaggerate. Never exaggerate! Simply list your problem and leave out “I’m fine” out of your vocabulary until there is nothing else on that list of things that are hurting or bothering you. Then, and only then, are you “fine.”