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FLORIDA: Concierge Medicine Firm Found Liable For Doctor’s Negligence.

NOTABLE INDUSTRY COMMENTARY/PERSPECTIVE:

“The question for me is whether the MDVIP advertising and administrative relationship with the physician should have led to MDVIP liability for the physician’s potential error,” says James J. Eischen, Jr., attorney and Partner at Higgs Fletcher & Mack in San Diego, CA. “Obviously the trial judge and jury believed MDVIP was liable, and MDVIP will appeal that aspect of the verdict along with the underlying malpractice award. But, general wellness and private direct medicine hubs must be mindful of their claims relative to what they can deliver.”

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“This is something the FTC has emphasized over the last several years,” notes Eischen, “and something I constantly emphasize to my clients [Higgs Fletcher & Mack in San Diego, CA] when we are working on website content, data privacy practices, and proper notices to consumers and consumer consent documentation regarding wellness products/services. Medical practices designed to maintain high physician-patient connectivity will continue to generally show reduced claims [Related Research/Industry-Specific Data: 1) RESEARCH STUDY: Landmark Study Finds MDVIP Reduces Hospital Utilization and Healthcare Costs; 2) Americans Value Personalized Care Investment, Shows MDVIP Survey; 3) 2013: Study Proves Dramatic Reduction in Hospitalizations & $300 Million Savings for MDVIP’s Personalized Healthcare Model] but, no matter how incredibly designed a healthcare program can be, it can’t overcome a potentially faulty decision of a participating affiliated physician.”

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“These programs are not designed to trigger second opinions,” continues Eischen, “we entrust primary care physicians with a very important role as frequently first contact with patient symptoms. Patients in programs like MDVIP will generally receive a more connected version of care, but in the end consumers should focus less on the platform and more on the training and reliability of the physician because it will be the physician who makes the important calls.”

February 12, 2015 | WEST PALM BEACH, Fla. — MDVIP, the nation’s largest concierge medicine  practice, has seen meteoric growth since it was founded fifteen years ago promising “exceptional care” and quick access to doctors in exchange for a $1,500 annual membership fee.

But it took a big hit Tuesday when a Palm Beach County, Fla. jury returned an $8.5 million malpractice verdict against the company, which has nearly 800 affiliated physicians in 41 states. It was the first malpractice verdict against MDVIP, and is believed to be the first against any concierge management firm. The companies offer such perks as same-day appointments and more personalized care with contracted doctors in return for a retainer.

 2014 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis: Diederich Healthcare has done an analysis of the medical malpractice payouts in 2013 as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. Taking the data from the NPDB’s records, statistics were selected that will be both interesting and timely to doctors and all other medical professionals. Interestingly, 2013 marked the first time since 2003 that there was an increase in the total medical malpractice payout amounts.

2014 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis: Diederich Healthcare has done an analysis of the medical malpractice payouts in 2013 as recorded by the National Practitioner Data Bank. Taking the data from the NPDB’s records, statistics were selected that will be both interesting and timely to doctors and all other medical professionals. Interestingly, 2013 marked the first time since 2003 that there was an increase in the total medical malpractice payout amounts.

The jury found MDVIP was liable for the negligence of one of its physicians, who was sued for misdiagnosing the cause of a patient’s leg pain, leading to its amputation. The jury also found the firm had falsely advertised its exceptional doctors and patient care.

Industry experts say the ruling is significant because it shows concierge companies can be held liable for the care provided by their contracted doctors. The companies typically argue they do not actually provide care but merely act as brokers between doctors and patients.

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“This pierces that veil…and shows these companies have a legal risk that everyone assumed did not exist,” said Tom Blue, chief strategy officer of the American Academy of Private Physicians, a trade group of concierge doctors.

MDVIP argued it was not responsible for the actions of a physician with whom it had contracted. MDVIP physicians are not directly employed by the company; the physicians pay the firm a per-patient fee for services such as marketing, branding, and other support.

The doctor, Charles Metzger Jr., settled with the plaintiff’s family before the trial.

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MDVIP representatives declined to be interviewed, but they indicated they would appeal the verdict. In a statement, the company said it and Metzger acted appropriately.

Karen Terry, one of the plaintiff’s attorneys, said the verdict will push MDVIP and similar companies to scrutinize doctors more carefully before they affiliate with them because they may be liable for the doctors’ actions.

Such companies will also be more cautious about advertising that they offer better care. “You can’t make promises you can’t keep,” Terry said. “This verdict is going to have a huge impact on MDVIP.”

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Harry Nelson, a Los Angeles health care attorney, agreed the verdict will change how companies market their doctors.  “A lot of people will be taking notice of this verdict…It’s a shocking decision,” he said. “The result of this decision is going to be more caution from the concierge medicine companies in terms of their claims of providing superior care.”

ROBERTA Greenspan, a seasoned health care executive and visionary with more than 30 years of professional health care experience in both the hospital and private practice setting, launched Specialdocs Consultants, Inc. over 10 years ago.

ROBERTA Greenspan, a seasoned health care executive and visionary with more than 30 years of professional health care experience in both the hospital and private practice setting, launched Specialdocs Consultants, Inc. over 10 years ago.

But Roberta Greenspan, founder of Specialdocs Consultants, a concierge medicine consulting firm in Chicago, was skeptical of the decision’s significance.

“This singular verdict will not have a major long-term effect on the industry,” she said. “The industry has evolved from a fad years ago to one that has gained tremendous respect.”

An estimated 6,000 doctors nationally have moved to concierge-style practices in the past 15 years, with the figure doubling just in the past five, according to the AAPP. Patients who see concierge doctors typically pay an annual fee, in addition to their insurance coverage, in return for gaining easier access to doctors and more personalized care.

Click Here To Read Full Report ... by Medscape

Click Here To Read Full Report … by Medscape

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The lawsuit against MDVIP was brought by the widower of the late Joan Beber of Boca Raton, who had sought medical attention for leg pain. Despite what plaintiff’s lawyers described as the progressive worsening of her condition, she was repeatedly misdiagnosed by Metzger and other MDVIP-affiliated staff. She was referred to orthopedists who they contended did not get her medical records or learn of her worsening symptoms.  The information, they argued, might have led to the discovery of a serious circulation problem that eventually required above-the-knee amputation of her leg.

Beber died of leukemia four years after her leg was amputated in 2008.

Dr. Matthew Priddy is board certified in family medicine and is proud to serve as President for the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), where he has held a seat on the Board of Directors since 2012. He completed his training at the IU School of Medicine and his residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, serving as Chief Resident his final year. A second-generation physician, Dr. Priddy is passionate about the positive outcomes empowered by personalized medicine and the degree of improved patient service that is offered by direct care practice models. He and his wife, Dr. Jen Priddy, live in Carmel and enjoy good food, travel, supporting the local arts, and entertaining friends.

Dr. Matthew Priddy is board certified in family medicine and is proud to serve as President for the American Academy of Private Physicians (AAPP), where he has held a seat on the Board of Directors since 2012. He completed his training at the IU School of Medicine and his residency at St. Vincent Hospital in Indianapolis, serving as Chief Resident his final year. A second-generation physician, Dr. Priddy is passionate about the positive outcomes empowered by personalized medicine and the degree of improved patient service that is offered by direct care practice models. He and his wife, Dr. Jen Priddy, live in Carmel and enjoy good food, travel, supporting the local arts, and entertaining friends.

Dr. Matthew Priddy, president of the concierge trade group, said the verdict will “give national companies pause if they are on the hook” for their physicians’ care.

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Still, Priddy said the industry’s track record is good. While concierge physicians are not immune from malpractice suits, they are less likely to face them because they spend more time with patients than most doctors, he said. They typically limit their patients to a few hundred a year – 600 is the limit for MDVIP doctors — compared to a few thousand for an average practice. They are able to do that because the retainer fees make up for lost revenue.

SOURCE: http://kaiserhealthnews.org/news/concierge-medicine-co-found-liable-for-doctors-negligence/

* Sited Sources(*): http://www.ahrq.gov/research/findings/factsheets/primary/pcwork2/index.html, https://www.aamc.org/download/313228/data/2012physicianspecialtydatabook.pdf

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