Archives: March 2013

March 2013 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 8, Issue 3 March 2013 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Moving Forward: HCLA Sets Priorities, Agenda for 2013 at Annual Meeting Orszag: Improving Fiscal Health Through Liability Reform Liability Reform Considered as Part of Senate Budget Bill Oregon Takes Alternate Route to Reform Moving Forward: HCLA Sets Priorities, Agenda for 2013 at Annual Meeting With comprehensive medical liability reform legislation waiting to take center stage later this year, HCLA members met in Washington this month to discuss recent developments at the state level and hear from liability reform experts and Members of Congress on the path forward for federal reform in 2013. Speakers at this year’s Annual Meeting included Senator Roy Blunt (R-MO), the Honorable Judy Harris Kluger of the New York State Unified Court System, David Pulliam of Congressman Phil Gringrey’s (R-GA) office, Kristin Schleiter of the American Medical Association, and Matt Fullenbaum of the American Tort Reform Association. Senator Blunt, a key supporter of federal medical liability reform, opened the meeting by discussing last year’s reform efforts and the windows of opportunity for moving legislation forward in the 113th Congress. He also talked about state reform efforts that have been effective in reducing health care…

Read More

To Fix U.S. Budget, Reform Medical Malpractice Law

The sequestration that is about to take effect imposes too much austerity too soon, does so in a nonsensical way, and yet does little to improve the long-term U.S. fiscal picture. Far more beneficial would be to make sure that the deceleration in health costs we have been enjoying continues. This is why medical-malpractice reform, although far from a panacea, is worth trying. Most of the costs in the U.S. health-care system are incurred in a small number of expensive cases. The top 25 percent of Medicare beneficiaries ranked by cost, for example, account for 85 percent of total spending. And the expenses in those cases are driven significantly by the recommendations that doctors make to pursue one treatment path and not another. In making these choices, doctors are influenced by various things, including medical-school training, traditions among their peers, financial incentives (which are distorted by fee- for-service payments) and, yes, the medical-malpractice system. Improving the criteria for what constitutes appropriate care could significantly change doctors’ behavior and also save money, recent research by Michael Frakes of Cornell Law School suggests. Customary Practices Most proposals to amend medical-malpractice law would limit liability in cases where doctors are found to be…

Read More

Governor signs alternative to medical malpractice lawsuits

Gov. John Kitzhaber signed a bill today offering patients, doctors and hospitals an alternative to medical-malpractice lawsuits. Senate Bill 483 would allow them to enter into voluntary discussions and mediations, including settlement offers, under the authority of the Oregon Patient Safety Commission. The legislation had the support of the Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association, which have often been at odds over issues of liability. The proposal emerged from a work group convened last year by Kitzhaber, who’s a physician, as part of his overhaul of delivery of care to 600,000 recipients under the Oregon Health Plan. Kitzhaber said he wanted the legislation to improve the safety of patients, allow them compensation for medical “events,” and reduce collateral costs to doctors and hospitals such as liability and litigation. “I didn’t have any preconceived notion of what this would look like,” Kitzhaber said. “I think the result is an innovative piece of legislation that meets all three of these metrics, and also allows physicians and patients to get together to try to address these issues.” Kitzhaber was flanked at the ceremony by Dr. William “Bud” Pierce, a Salem oncologist who is president of the Oregon Medical Association, and…

Read More