Ohio Doctors Take the Gloves Off

The Ohio State Medical Association has begun financing motions for sanctions where it believes member physicians have been frivolously added as defendants in medical malpractice cases.

The medical association�s three-member Frivolous Lawsuit Committee, which includes one physician with a law degree, was created in late 2003 and is already active in several cases. It has backed a motion for sanctions filed in December and is poised to get involved in one or two cases in the next month, says OSMA general counsel Almeta E. Cooper.

The committee is reviewing about 50 separate matters, she says, and more are coming in. Its first targets will be those cases it views as most egregious: Where a physician has been named as a defendant despite having had little or no role in treating the plaintiff patient. . . .

[M]ost frustrating to the committee is the "perception on the part of some lawyers and perhaps judges that it is no big deal if physicians are named as defendants as long as they�re eventually dismissed," Cooper says. "They view that as the system working." . . .

[T]he association has already backed one motion for sanctions. It involves Dr. Victoria Ruff, a Columbus intensive care specialist who was one of 23 defendants named in a case in which, she argues, no detailed allegations of negligence were made against her. She was dismissed from the suit after 17 months, six motions and one deposition.

Despite the dismissal, Dr. Ruff alleges that the lawsuit prompted her malpractice insurance carrier to drop her and force her to go elsewhere for much more expensive coverage.

Details here from the ABA Journal.