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High-risk health providers stay in business thanks to state insurance

"Maple Grove surgeon Joseph Pietrafitta has been sued at least six times for malpractice, leading to $1.2 million in settlements for former patients. The Minnesota Board of Medical Practice also has cited some of the lawsuits in ordering Pietrafitta to take corrective action for “inappropriate” conduct. In 2010, no conventional insurance carrier would give him malpractice coverage, court records show. That could have put him out of business, but Pietrafitta got coverage from the ­Minnesota Joint Underwriting Association (MJUA), the insurer of last resort. The MJUA was created by the Legislature in 1976 to provide liability insurance to doctors, nurses and hospitals unable to get it anywhere else. It won’t release its records to the public, including names of those health care providers, or even how many they cover. A Star Tribune examination of Department of Commerce records and court documents has found that the group has spent at least $32 million over the last decade to settle claims, including $12 million to resolve 169 claims filed against health care providers, some of whom were accused of crippling or killing patients." Read the Star Tribune's full investigation here.

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