Archives: September 2011

September 2011 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 6, Issue 9 september 2011 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Legislative Alert: Urge Deficit Reduction Committee Members to Support Medical Liability Reform MICRA Under the Microscope, 35 Years Later A Healthy Dose of Liability Reform Needed Legislative Alert: Urge Deficit Reduction Committee Members to Support Medical Liability Reform Protect Patients Now has a crucial opportunity to include medical liability reforms in a deficit reduction package and preserve patient access to care while also achieving billions of dollars in cost savings. The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction will meet several times within the next two months to find $1.5 trillion in deficit reduction savings to be undertaken over a ten‐year period, and send their recommendations to Congress for a vote by the end of the year. As determined by the non-partisan Congressional Budget Office, enacting comprehensive medical liability reforms will provide $62.4 billion in budget savings over 10 years, and therefore help the Committee reach its deficit reduction goals. The HCLA supports the inclusion of comprehensive medical liability reforms in the Committee’s final recommendation to Congress, and recently sent a letter signed by 31 of its member organizations to Committee leaders. Click here to read the…

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October 2010 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 5, Issue  10 OCTOBER 2010 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Former OMB Director Says Congress Missed the Mark on Liability Reform Legally Speaking Jackpot Justice Former OMB Director Says Congress Missed the Mark on Liability Reform President Barack Obama’s former director of the Office of Management and Budget is now speaking out about the failure of health care reform legislation to address our nation’s broken medical liability system. Mr. Orszag writes in The New York Times, “…it does almost nothing to reform medical malpractice laws. Lawmakers missed an important opportunity to shield from malpractice liability any doctors who followed evidence-based guidelines in treating their patients.” While he briefly dismisses the proven reform measure that has worked in states across the country, placing reasonable limits on non-economic damages (which he confuses with punitive damages), he fully supports a strategy to provide a safe harbor for doctors who follow evidence-based guidelines. He goes on to list several other steps which could be taken to improve “standard medical practice.” Peter Orszag believes that the health care bill does many things right – but in terms of medical liability reform, he acknowledges it simply missed the mark. To read…

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California’s noneconomic damages cap upheld

The Court of Appeal of the State of California, 5th Appellate District, has upheld the state’s $250,000 noneconomic damages cap, reaffirming what physicians nationwide consider the gold standard among tort reforms. In its Sept. 1 opinion, the court said the cap was enacted on valid rationale and does not compromise citizens’ rights. “Our Supreme Court … has already determined the constitutionality of [the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act], in which it concluded the statute does not violate equal protection rights because the Legislature rationally could conclude a medical malpractice crisis existed that required legislative intervention to reduce medical malpractice insurance costs, and that [MICRA] is rationally related to the cost-reduction goal,” the court said. The legal challenge stemmed from a lawsuit filed by Holly Stinnett against Modesto Surgical Associates and surgeon Tony Tam, MD, that alleged Dr. Tam’s negligence led to Stanley Stinnett’s death. Stanley Stinnett was admitted to Memorial Medical Center of Modesto in January 2006 after he was injured in a motorcycle crash. After several days there, he went into respiratory arrest and his stomach filled with fluid, according to court documents. He later died. California has had comprehensive tort reform since 1975. Holly Stinnett, his wife, claimed…

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Healthy reform needed

Massachusetts may soon adopt some medical malpractice reforms in an effort to rein in health care costs, but will they be anything close to what we need? A new report by the Pioneer Institute suggests that what’s on the table at the moment falls short. A proposal by Gov. Deval Patrick, filed last February, would make an apology from a physician or hospital after a medical error is disclosed inadmissible in a malpractice lawsuit. And studies do indeed suggest that disclosure and an apology prevent many a lawsuit from being filed, which would hold down some costs to the health care system. The bill also establishes a six-month cooling off period before a medical malpractice lawsuit could be filed, which could reduce the likelihood of legal action. But as the Pioneer report indicates, there is a menu of options available to policy-makers as they consider medical liability reforms. The disclosure-and-apology approach “does nothing to address the direct cost of malpractice cases, in the short term.” Patrick ignored calls for a cap on non-economic damages, for example, including pain and suffering. One study found states with such caps have 17.1 percent lower malpractice premiums than those states without caps. Beacon Hill…

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