Drew Wills 
Member since Aug 15, 2012


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Re: “Let's have a look at that...

So they (and City Counsel) are going to allow the citizens of Colorado Springs to vote without informing them that they may be facing a $150,000 cap on damages? Really?

Posted by Drew Wills on 08/21/2012 at 10:59 PM

Re: “Vote YES for Memorial lease

There is a very important aspect of the proposed Operating Lease Agreement with University of Colorado Health (“UCH”) which has gone completely without notice, explanation or public comment. I have read the proposed Integration and Affiliation Agreement and the Operating Lease Agreement and find no mention of the issue.

Memorial Hospital is currently owned by the City of Colorado Springs. For that reason it enjoys governmental immunity under the statutes of Colorado. Consequently, all persons must file a notice of claim to the appropriate persons as a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a legal claim against Memorial Hospital. UCS is also a governmental entity which also requires notice of claim to be served within 180 days. No significant change on this issue.

However, what has not been addressed to my knowledge is the potential change in the caps on damages which may be awarded in cases of preventable medical error. The governmental immunity act limits any and all damages against a public entity to $150,000. While this may be sufficient for some cases, it clearly is not sufficient to compensate a person who has suffered a catastrophic injury or death.

According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans every year, and injure countless more. If the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were to include preventable medical errors as a category, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in America. While it is hoped that UCH will operate a better safer system for all patients, it is a fact that preventable medical errors resulting in serious injury and death will not be eliminated. The operation of the UCS system in its present form is proof of that fact.

The City of Colorado Springs has a history of acting responsibly to the citizens of this region with regard to preventable medical errors by adopting a resolution which replaces the $150,000 cap. Pursuant to Resolution 6-99, The City of Colorado Springs has waived the damage limitations set forth in the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act to the extent of recovery available under the Colorado Health Care Availability Act (the same as any non-governmental entity). Memorial Health Systems, Inc. is insured under two liability policies with total coverage in the amount of $11,000,000.00. The City of Colorado Springs decided that this was the right and responsible thing to do to ensure that the citizens of the Pikes Peak Region and beyond are afforded adequate compensation in the event of serious injury or death as a result of preventable medical error.
The citizens of Colorado Springs should carefully consider this aspect of the proposed agreement with UCS and require that, as part of the agreement, UCS makes itself responsible to the citizens of Colorado Springs through the passing of a similar resolution to continue to ensure that claims under the UCS Operating Lease Agreement does not leave the citizens of this region with a completely inadequate remedy if they suffer serious injury or death as a result of a preventable medical error in the Memorial Health System. If not the proposed Operating Lease Agreement should be rejected.

Incidentally, the 1988 Health Care Availability Act (HCAA) [C.R.S.§§ 13-64-101, et seq.] contains several limitations on damages. Recovery against all health care professionals and institutions is limited to a total of $1,000,000, including punitive damages. Within the $1,000,000 limit, noneconomic losses are subject to a limit of $300,000. However, the judge in a medical malpractice case is allowed to enter a judgment exceeding the $1,000,000 recovery cap only in specific instances on good cause shown. For example, the 15 million dollar verdict mentioned in another article was severely reduced before judgment was entered due to the HCAA caps.

Posted by Drew Wills on 08/15/2012 at 3:35 PM

Re: “Let's have a look at that...

There is a very important aspect of the proposed Operating Lease Agreement with University of Colorado Health (“UCH”) which has gone completely without notice, explanation or public comment. I have read the proposed Integration and Affiliation Agreement and the Operating Lease Agreement and find no mention of the issue. Further, the comments made by the City Attorney seem to confirm my suspicions that the issue has not been explained to you or the citizens of Colorado Springs who are about to vote.

Memorial Hospital is currently owned by the City of Colorado Springs. For that reason it enjoys governmental immunity under the statutes of Colorado. Consequently, all persons must file a notice of claim to the appropriate persons as a jurisdictional prerequisite to filing a legal claim against Memorial Hospital. UCS is also a governmental entity which also requires notice of claim to be served within 180 days. No significant change on this issue. However, what has not been addressed to my knowledge is the potential change in the caps on damages which may be awarded in cases of preventable medical error. The governmental immunity act limits any and all damages against a public entity to $150,000. While this may be sufficient for some cases, it clearly is not sufficient to compensate a person who has suffered a catastrophic injury or death.

According to the Institute of Medicine, preventable medical errors kill as many as 98,000 Americans every year, and injure countless more. If the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) were to include preventable medical errors as a category, it would be the sixth leading cause of death in America. While it is hoped that UCH will operate a better safer system for all patients, it is a fact that preventable medical errors resulting in serious injury and death will not be eliminated. The operation of the UCS system in its present form is proof of that fact.

The City of Colorado Springs has a history of acting responsibly to the citizens of this region with regard to preventable medical errors by adopting a resolution which replaces the $150,000 cap. Pursuant to Resolution 6-99, The City of Colorado Springs has waived the damage limitations set forth in the Colorado Governmental Immunity Act to the extent of recovery available under the Colorado Health Care Availability Act (the same as any non-governmental entity). Memorial Health Systems, Inc. is insured under two liability policies with total coverage in the amount of $11,000,000.00. The City of Colorado Springs decided that this was the right and responsible thing to do to ensure that the citizens of the Pikes Peak Region and beyond are afforded adequate compensation in the event of serious injury or death as a result of preventable medical error.

The citizens of Colorado Springs should carefully consider this aspect of the proposed agreement with UCS and require that, as part of the agreement, UCS makes itself responsible to the citizens of Colorado Springs through the passing of a similar resolution to continue to ensure that claims under the UCS Operating Lease Agreement does not leave the citizens of this region with a completely inadequate remedy if they suffer serious injury or death as a result of a preventable medical error in the Memorial Health System. If not the proposed Operating Lease Agreement should be rejected.

Incedentlly, the 1988 Health Care Availability Act (HCAA) [C.R.S.§§ 13-64-101, et seq.] contains several limitations on damages. Recovery against all health care professionals and institutions is limited to a total of $1,000,000, including punitive damages. Within the $1,000,000 limit, noneconomic losses are subject to a limit of $300,000. However, the judge in a medical malpractice case is allowed to enter a judgment exceeding the $1,000,000 recovery cap only in specific instances on good cause shown. For example, the 15 million dollar verdict mentioned in the article was severely reduced before judgment was entered due to the HCAA caps.

Posted by Drew Wills on 08/15/2012 at 3:28 PM

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