Medical Malpractice Claims in Indiana
There are strict procedural requirements for pursuing a medical malpractice complaint in the state of Indiana. Before the complaint can be filed in Court it must be presented to a medical review panel. The medical review panel is selected for each case and is comprised of three physicians and an attorney chairman. The panel reviews written evidence submitted by the litigants and issues an opinion that there was malpractice, no malpractice, or a question of fact that prevents them from reaching a decision. For an overview of the procedures see the website of the Medical Malpractice division of the Indiana Department of Insurance.www.in.gov/idoi
The number of malpractice claims filed has decreased in the last few years. In 2007, medical review panels issued opinions in 708 cases. Only 69 of these medical review panel opinions were completely in the patient's favor. 451 opinions were in favor of the physician or health care provider. 21 panel decisions found a material issue of fact and 167 panels issued a variation of opinion. A variation of opinion can mean that the panel opinion was not unanimous or that the panel found against the health care provider but did not find that it was a cause of the patient's injuries or death. This information can be found in the 2007 Annual Report of the Indiana Patient's Compensation Fund. www.in.gov/idoi
Helpful Information Sites for Injured Patients and their Families
In the United States, 1 out of 4 deaths is due to cancer. This year more than 1,500 people a day are expected to die from cancer. It is the second most common cause of death in the U.S., exceeded only by heart disease. (American Cancer Society, Cancer Facts & Figures, 2008, p. 2). The relative survival rates for all cancers continue to improve. This improvement in cancer survivor rates is attributed to earlier diagnosis and improvements in treatment.
Visit the American Cancer Society website and learn about the early cancer warning signs. www.cancer.org The site can be searched for specific cancers. In addition, the American Cancer Society Guidelines for the Early Detection of Cancer includes the recommendations for screening for breast cancer, colon cancer, cervical cancer, endometrial cancer and prostate cancer. Even if you are aware of the general guidelines, it is helpful to review these current guidelines which reflect advances in technology and medical research. For example, in addition to mammograms, the American Cancer Society advises MRI's for some women at high risk for breast cancer.
Inform yourself of the cancer screening guidelines. Screening exams can detect cancer at an early stage, even before you have symptoms. Your physician should offer appropriate screening exams that are indicated for your age and risk factors. If you have symptoms, your physician should do the appropriate tests to rule out or diagnose cancer.
The risk factors, warning signs, and symptoms of heart attack, TIA's, stroke, and sudden cardiac arrest are outlined on the American Heart Association website. www.americanheart.org Coronary heart disease is the number 1 cause of death. Stroke is the number 3 cause of death and the leading cause of serious disability. It is important for the patient, as well as for the doctor, to know the warning signs and to respond quickly and promptly.
The National Spinal Cord Injury Association has a helpful site with links to resources, by state. www.spinalcord.org
The Brain Injury Association of Indiana has a website which offers support and education for individuals with traumatic head injury as well as anoxic brain injury. The cite also offers helpful links. http://www.biausa.org/Indiana
The Arc of Indiana advocates for people with developmental disabilities and their families. Its website offers information links as well as information regarding the Arc Master Trust. www.arcind.org
Do you need help locating a doctor or specialist? The American Medical Association has a site designed to help you find a doctor. It is the AMA Doctor Finder designed for patients. http://webapps.ama-assn.org/doctorfinder
The State of Indiana Medicaid website has helpful consumer information about Medicaid and state assisted plans. For example, eligibility for Hoosier Healthwise, Medicaid, and Healthy Indiana Plan ("HIP") can be found at www.in.gov/fssa HIP is for uninsured Hoosier adults between the ages of 19-64 who are uninsured and earn less than $20,000 per year for a single adult, or $40,000 for a family of four. This site also has links to the Medicaid waiver programs.