Sunday, July 31, 2011

Malpractice Insurance

I think it is important to highlight on something that sometimes gets ignored in all this chaos--Conrad Murray's malpractice insurance--or the lack thereof. According to documents, Conrad Murray picked up a policy with a company called Medicus Insurance Company based out of Austin, Texas (scratch that, it has just been bought by a company in San Francisco as of 07/29/11). What insurance carrier, if any, he had before that is unknown.

Murray seems to have been or is still under the impression that Medicus should pay his legal bills that are related to Michael's death. I don't think malpractice insurance should cover homicide and figure the malpractice insurance companies would agree with me. I actually cannot believe Murray would pull such a claim--then again, he has made the grandiose claim he did not kill Michael, either, which I believe to be a lie whether you believe he did it intentionally or not. I guess Murray thought he could pocket that extra sum he got paid for killing Michael (if such is true, which may or may not be but he certainly has had enough money to pay for lawyers and go on nice vacations with his mistress and child to Miami and elsewhere since Michael's death).

Not only is it a stretch for Murray to assume Medicus would pay his legal fees but get this--he only got the malpractice insurance a month before Michael died, according to documents. Now, I cannot say for certain that means he had no malpractice insurance before May 2009 but so far nothing has surfaced that Murray had malpractice insurance before that date. One of Murray's many lawyers named Charles Peckman (thus far I have counted at least four attorneys and that is only concerning the homicide case and not the many other cases against him) tried to argue that Medicus should pay. So far Medicus has not had to pay, as far as I know.

Malpractice insurance for a doctor is kind of like having auto insurance if you are the driver of a vehicle. You need it in case of an accident. Accidents are inevitable. All doctors should have insurance just as all drivers should have insurance--even if you think you are "perfect", you need insurance. Even the best doctors have malpractice insurance. If a doctor does not have malpractice insurance they should not be your doctor--then again, it is hard to know whether or not your doctor has such insurance--I am sure most like myself assume all doctors have malpractice insurance but they do not have to have prove such to their patients. I know that malpractice insurance can be expensive. Is this why Murray did not have any prior, because he did not want to pay for something else he should have? Or, did he get it because AEG asked he have insurance in their agreement? Orrrr, did he get it hoping insurance would pay for his upcoming legal fees that he anticipated? After all, after Michael died Murray ran back to Houston and hired an attorney ASAP (he hired Ed Chernoff who asked that half of his $1200 airfare to California be covered by the cash-poor Murray because Chernoff thought this was all a hoax) before Murray was ever considered a suspect or before Michael's death was ever considered a homicide. Many investigators will tell you this is a "big red flag" that someone has likely done something very wrong and knows it. Though Murray hired an attorney for supposedly doing "nothing that should have killed Michael", initially investigators seemed to think Michael's death was simply another "Hollywood OD"--that it was not.

Now, the state of Texas caps how much a doctor can be sued for malpractice--though again, I stress ALL doctors should have malpractice insurance. This situation has been considered favorable for doctors in that if they make a mistake they can only be sued for so much money--thus premiums are kept to a minimum, though still costly. This can be a shame for the families of patients killed by negligent doctors (Murray was not negligent with Michael in my opinion) though certainly no amount of money can bring their loved one back. It could also promote sub-standard care for patients in Texas.

The following is an email I received from a gentlemen from the Texas Department of Insurance:

First, I asked him if there were any mandatory laws for carrying insurance (for Texas), if there was any database the kept up with who had what type of insurance and how could a patient find out if their doctor had insurance or not? His reply was:

1. Texas has no insurance laws that I know of requiring physicians to maintain medical malpractice insurance. However, Texas does permit hospitals, HMOs, clinics, PPOs, surgicenters, and other care-related entities to require physicians to maintain limits as set by a local credentialing entity.

2. There is no central repository for information on a physician's individual liability insurance. However, if a physician has attending privileges at a local hospital, or other treating facility, then he or she almost certainly has such insurance. It is very unlikely that a hospital would permit a physician with no insurance to practice in its facility.

3. You could ask the individual physician if he or she has medmal insurance. However, an individual practitioner has no obligation to respond. There is an exception to this. If a practitioner is the subject of a medmal claim and the case approaches suit and trial, then, at the deposition stage, he or she may be asked if, and what amount of, medmal insurance is carried.

Again--I cannot promise that Murray did not have insurance before May of 2009 (but he did lose his privileges at Doctor's Hospital--Tidwell in Houston for some reason that I am not 100% on so was he at any hospital or facility in any state that required malpractice insurance???) but it seems logical that he'd kept whatever company he was with prior if he had renewed in May rather than bought a new policy unless there was some odd situation where his former insurance would not cover him in California. I am unsure how malpractice insurance is affected across the different state lines so hopefully a doctor can correct me if I am incorrect--I would assume your malpractice insurance would cover you, no matter what state you are practicing in, so long as you have a license in that state to practice. Now, what Murray planned to do for London, for insurance there or even a medical license, I am not sure since insurance I would think would not have covered him in another country. AEG had told Murray he needed to in-effect have a medical license in the UK by July 6th or close to that date--that deadline was impossible to meet so I am not sure what Murray planned to do about it. I have been told it takes about a year to get licensed in the UK if you are a doctor in the US. Maybe Murray was not thinking that far in advance, if you know what I mean, just as he requested no equipment in LA when he certainly should have had it.

If Murray was not carrying malpractice insurance before May of 2009 I can only think of a couple things--I mentioned two of them above, one being he wanted it knowing he would be putting himself in a position in which a possible claim would be arising or he skipped out to avoid the costs. The last notion could be he has "God Syndrome" and thought he would never make a mistake and was too good for insurance, which according to reports, he has made mistakes and I am NOT including Michael's death as one. In my opinion Michael's death was no mistake or case of malpractice--it was not one, two or even ten poor actions that took Michael from us but a chain of so many horribly reprehensible actions that it is truly unfathomable to think someone died the way Michael did and no one should ever die the way he did, ever.

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