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CDC HIV/AIDS/Viral Hepatitis/STD/TB Prevention News Update

State Fears Malpractice Insurer Won't Stick with Hepatitis


Associated Press (10.09.03) - Tuesday, October 14, 2003

Nebraska Department of Insurance officials are worried that a medical malpractice insurance company might try to get out of paying claims that could arise from the Fremont hepatitis C outbreak. The department has asked a judge to rule that Medical Protective Co. (MPC) must defend Dr. Tahir Javed, who is accused of using unsanitary practices that caused 99 people - including one who died - to contract hepatitis C at his Fremont Cancer Clinic in 2000-2001. Scores of lawsuits have been filed against Javed.

In documents filed in Lancaster County District Court, the department says Javed's malpractice insurance policy set limits of $200,000 per claim and annual aggregate of $600,000. Nebraska is worried that MPC will settle a few lawsuits to meet the $600,000 limit, leaving the state's malpractice fund liable for the rest - potentially millions of dollars.

Nebraska contends that MPC must defend all the hepatitis cases collectively. If that is the case, the state contends that Javed's policy contained a provision that would increase the total amount the company must pay collectively to $7 million. Company officials declined to immediately comment.

The lawsuits against Javed are threatening to wipe out Nebraska's Excess Liability Fund, which pays claims in excess of a doctor's individual private malpractice insurance. About 3,100 doctors pay annually into the fund to defray the costs of malpractice insurance. The fund now has $55 million, but is expected to pay an estimated $46 million to settle pending claims - not including any filed against Javed. Department of Insurance Director Tim Wagner has said that if the Javed case exhausts the fund, the doctors would be required to pay the remaining claims - possibly tens of millions of dollars.

Earlier this month, the state revoked Javed's medical license under a settlement in which he admitted to using unsanitary practices at his clinic. Javed returned to his native Pakistan a year ago, around the time when the first hepatitis cases were detected.


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Information in this article was accurate in October 14, 2003. The state of the art may have changed since the publication date. This material is designed to support, not replace, the relationship that exists between you and your doctor. Always discuss treatment options with a doctor who specializes in treating HIV.