Archives: September 2013

August 2013 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 8, Issue 8 August 2013 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Session to Address Liability Reform Poor Liability Climate Limiting Access to Care in New York Oklahoma Governor Calls Special Session to Address Liability Reform Oklahoma Governor Mary Fallin sees the urgency in heading off an impending access to care crisis, calling state legislators back to work for a special session to enact liability reform. Following the state Supreme Court decision earlier this summer that struck down liability reforms passed in 2009, uncertainty in the state’s liability climate has threatened to open the floodgates of meritless lawsuits. “Oklahoma’s lawsuit reform measures are part of what makes this state attractive to businesses and attractive to retaining and recruiting doctors,” Governor Fallin said. “Those laws are now under attack.” “In the weeks since the court ruled our laws unconstitutional, at least a dozen lawsuits have been reopened against hospitals, doctors and other employers. As lawmakers, we need to act now to protect our businesses and our medical community from frivolous lawsuits and skyrocketing legal costs.” Dr. Robert McCaffree. President of the Oklahoma Medical Society, understands the need for the Governor to act quickly in calling a…

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September 2013 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now Volume 8, Issue 9 September 2013 Newsletter E-Newsletter Special points of interest: Special Legislative Session Gives the OK for Reform Volunteer Liability Reform Means More Physicians in Missouri New Mexico Court Closes Loophole in Liability Ruling Texas Tort Reform: A Decade of Access to Care Special Legislative Session Gives the OK for Reform In response to a court ruling that liability reforms passed in 2009 violated Oklahoma’s constitution because unrelated issues were included in a single bill, the state legislature met earlier this month for a special session to reinstate critical pieces of medical liability reform. Giving the OK to 23 separate liability bills, Governor Mary Fallin signed single-subject bills including an affidavit of merit requirement, expert testimony standards, and emergency and volunteer liability protections. Passage of the legislation was a key priority for the American Medical Association and the Oklahoma State Medical Association in order to ensure that personal injury lawyers would not take advantage of the gap between the court ruling and the regular session of the legislature, which would not normally meet until February. “These laws had already begun paying dividends for Oklahoma’s physicians and their patients, and we are glad that lawmakers understood the important…

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Nearly Two Dozen Liability Reform Bills Adopted in Oklahoma Summer Push

Significant liability reform legislation is back on the books in Oklahoma following a special summer session of the state legislature. Last week Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law 23 separate liability reform bills, following a June ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court that tossed out a reform law the state adopted in 2009. The court ruled that the law violated the state’s constitutional provision that prohibits including more than one subject in a bill. The state legislature met earlier this month for its first special session since 2006 to reinstate the provisions of the overturned law in single-subject bills. Among the reforms included in these bills are an affidavit of merit requirement, expert testimony standards, and emergency and volunteer liability protections. The AMA and the Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) worked together to advance the effort. “An ineffectual medical liability system reduces patients’ access to health care—particularly high-risk procedures,” the AMA stated in a letterPDF FIle of support sent to each state lawmaker. “It hinders patients’ communications with their physicians, adds to the costs of patients’ health care expenses and forces patients to go through additional tests and procedures.” “These laws had already begun paying dividends for Oklahoma’s physicians…

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MO Lawmakers Relax Volunteers’ Medical Malpractice Liability

Missouri lawmakers voted Wednesday to override Gov. Jay Nixon’s veto of SB 129, the Volunteer Health Services Act, which relaxes medical malpractice liability for volunteers. “This is going to increase access to health care for thousands of Missourians at no cost to the taxpayer,” Sen. David Sater, R-Cassville, who sponsored the bill, told Watchdog. The measure waives civil penalties against volunteers unless there is a “gross deviation from the ordinary standard of care or willful misconduct.” The change means health professionals can donate their services without fear of lawsuits. The cost of liability insurance kept many retired physicians and other health workers from volunteering in their communities, Sater told Watchdog last month. “We just want them to work within the scope of their practice and if they do that and follow the standard of care, which we have in the bill, then they won’t have to fear being sued for some frivolous stuff,” said Sater, a pharmacist by training. The new law also allows health professionals licensed in other states to practice in Missouri as long as they are providing free care. Charitable groups like the Tennessee-based Remote Area Medical rely on out-of-state physicians and nurses to staff their events….

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Gov. Perry Commemorates 10th Anniversary of Historic Lawsuit Reform

Gov. Rick Perry today was joined by the Rio Grande Valley Citizens Against Lawsuit Abuse and members of the medical community to celebrate the 10th anniversary of the passage of landmark medical liability reform in Texas. “Ten years ago, Texas doctors were faced with an awful choice: stop providing critical services their patients desperately needed, shut down their practice altogether, or leave the state,” Gov. Perry said. “The best thing we can say about tort reform in Texas is also the most basic thing: It’s made people’s lives better. Since Proposition 12 passed 10 years ago, Texas has added more than 30,000 doctors with significant gains in communities that had been traditionally medically underserved. Many of the same lawsuit reforms we passed also freed entrepreneurs and employers across our state to worry less about lawsuit abuse, and invest fewer resources in defending them.” Prior to tort reform in Texas, the medical community faced a frustrating and inefficient legal system. Rising costs made it difficult for physicians and hospitals to attain the insurance coverage necessary to practice. Burdened with skyrocketing insurance rates, good doctors were forced to cut back on high-risk and life-saving care or limit their practices. In the years…

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Court Rules Doctor Groups Covered by Liability Cap

Ruling says it’s the intent of Legislature Professional corporations formed by doctors are included under a $600,000 cap limiting the amount that can be awarded in medical malpractice cases, the New Mexico Supreme Court ruled this week. The ruling, which expands the definition of “health care provider,” said even if the Court of Appeals found that professional corporations don’t literally meet the definition of providers in the Medical Malpractice Act, the Legislature meant it to apply to them. “A strict adherence to the plain language of the definition would conflict with legislative intent,” said the opinion by Justice Barbara Vigil. The medical community had sought similar protection in a 2011 compromise bill between doctors and lawyers that cleared the Legislature but was vetoed by the governor. The bill ensured that the businesses created by doctors would be covered by the liability caps and other aspects of the medical malpractice law, but in return the caps would have been raised to $1 million per occurrence and would have included a cost-of-living provision of 3 percent. The $600,000 maximum per occurrence in the act has been in place since 1992. The New Mexico Medical Society and the American Medical Association had urged…

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