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    Monday, June 30, 2003

    MedMal in the Keystone State: A Pennsylvania woman who smuggled drugs into her hospital room is suing the hospital because she over-dosed:

    In early May 1999, Hagan was going through drug withdrawal and was involuntarily committed to Norristown State Hospital. According to court records, she had been admitted there before.

    On May 6, the 18-year-old son of Hagan's roommate visited his mother at the hospital and slipped to Hagan and his mother cocaine, heroin and needles.....

    That night, both Hagan and the roommate injected themselves with cocaine and heroin. While injecting the drugs, the needle broke off in Hagan's arm.

    Around 10 p.m., a nurse gave out medications to Hagan that included an antidepressant.

    About two hours later, another roommate heard Hagan gasping for air. She noted that Hagan appeared ''very gray'' and tried to awaken her, according to the suit. When she couldn't, she called for help and Hagan was taken to the emergency room of Montgomery Hospital in Norristown.

    Hagan says that the nurse should have known she had a broken needle stuck in her arm when she gave her that anti-depressant. Surely, Hagan wasn't so stupid as to do something illegal without trying to hide it. So, it's the nurses fault that Hagan is such a successful sneak?

    Meanwhile, the courts say that Pennsylvania's law to restrict venue-shopping by trial lawyers has been - surprise! - struck down. The decision has economic consequences, and not just for doctors:

    Although the state law was designed to reduce the number of cases filed in Philadelphia, where verdicts are about twice the state average, the plaintiffs in the Commonwealth Court case were more concerned about avoiding trial in Montour or Bradford counties.

    A significant portion of jurors in those areas work at or have some connection to Geisinger Medical Center and Robert Packer Hospital.

    Since the new Supreme Court rules were established in January, medical-malpractice filings in Montour County have more or less doubled, according to county Prothonotary Susan M. Kauwell.

    Surely, the cases worthy of pursuit didn't double with the new rules, just the likelihood of success at trial.

    And here's a thought. Has anyone ever done a study to see if venue shopping occurs at the same rate in states with non-economic damage caps as those without caps? Bet it doesn't.

    posted by Sydney on 6/30/2003 08:24:00 AM 0 comments


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