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Letter from Steven E. Pegalis

Steven E. PegalisMy experience as a trial attorney handling medical liability cases began in the 1960s, at a time when very few lawyers were capable of handling medical liability issues. In 1973, when a large insurance company chose to stop insuring doctors, doctors referred to the insurance problem as a “crisis.” The publicity generated by the “crisis” triggered a large influx of law suits from a public who no longer accepted that bad medical outcomes were inevitable. By 1975, the liability insurance availability issue was resolved, but now the public would seek legal advice in greater numbers. Was this a bad thing? It was not because people who had meritorious cases would be fairly compensated, and there was a financial accountability motivation to be more careful. At that time, The American Society of Anesthesiology (ASA) was the only medical specialty group studying closed liability cases. While the ASA used the information from those cases to make medical care safer, their model did not become widely used as a standard of care by hospitals and doctors since 1999!

I have created an annual program at the New York Law School for the medical and legal profession to work together to make medical care safer. Click Here for details on the program. Each year many of our clients attend because they are anxious to keep abreast of what we can all do to make medical care safer. The point is that medical liability cases can, and often do, make medical care safer. Our clients want us to work at making care safer, and we do so.

I have written about safer medical care and my articles are published in both legal and medical peer-reviewed publications. Here are a few of those articles:

Safety: A Common Ground For Plaintiff and Defense Medical Liability Attorneys
The American medical liability system: An alliance between legal and medical professionals can promote patient safety and be cost effective
Closed Medical Negligence Claims Can Drive Patient Safety and Reduce Litigation
The Biophysical Profile: Tort Reform, Patient Safety and Obstetrical Malpractice
The Risk Management Quarterly
Spring 2011
Documentation of The Medical Record: How it relates to Risk Management, Medical Liability and Patient Safety
Who is Supervising the Supervisors?
Missing the Mark
Neurologic Birth Injury: Protecting the Legal Rights of the Child
A Difficult and Challenging Role for Healthcare Risk Mangers: Motivating Safer Care
Avoidable Brain Damage and Medical Liability

by Robert L. Conason and Steven E. Pegalis

Health-care system could use a Patient Safety Center
Brain Injured Children and the Civil Justice System
A Proposal to Use Common Ground that Exists Between the Medical and Legal Professions to Promote a Culture of Safety

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