Category Archives: Washington

March 2020 Newsletter

In this time of uncertainty and rapidly changing developments regarding the COVID-19 pandemic, we express our thanks and appreciation for those who continue to work at the front line of our health care systems. The HCLA and Protect Patients Now remain committed to keeping you updated on medical liability reform developments at the state and federal levels. Good Samaritan language added to economic stimulus bill Exemplifying the risk physicians face when working across state lines in a time of crisis is the current need for interstate health care resources to adequately respond to COVID-19 cases while ensuring medical liability coverage. As a result, the Health Coalition on Liability and Access, its member organizations, and congressional cosponsors of the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act (H.R. 6283/S. 1350) advocated for provisions of this legislation to be included in the Coronavirus Aid, Relief, and Economic Security (CARES) Act (H.R. 748) signed into law by President Trump on March 27. While the COVID-19 economic stimulus bill does not include the Good Samaritan language in full, it effectively applies the protections — for which the HCLA has long advocated — to volunteers serving existing or potential COVID-19 patients for the duration of this public health…

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Stimulus Bill Would Boost Liability Protection for Volunteer Docs

SOURCE: Bloomburg Law The embattled Senate stimulus package, if approved, would remove a troubling legal barrier by providing limited liability protection for doctors and other caregivers who volunteer across state lines during the coronavirus emergency. The mammoth legislation (H.R. 748), tied up in negotiations with Senate Democrats and Republicans, includes a provision that would give volunteer health professionals the civil immunity they receive in their home states when providing care to Covid-19 patients in another state. Supporters say the “Good Samaritan” provision could spur more doctors, anesthesiologists, and other health professionals to assist overwhelmed providers in hard-hit states like California, New York, and Washington, where access to care is already a major concern. Improving liability protections during the pandemic is particularly important for physicians who use telehealth services to treat out-of-state patients and for those who live near state borders and may be needed for rapid response to a surge in patient volume across state lines, Patrice Harris, president of the American Medical Association, said. Across State Lines Federal and state laws offer some liability protection for health-care volunteers if they’re licensed in the state where they’re providing services. But those protections break down when volunteering across state lines, said…

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Legal reform advocates point to medical malpractice figures in New York, Pennsylvania

ALBANY, N.Y. (Legal Newsline) – Experts who have watched medical malpractice lawsuits skyrocket in states like New York, Rhode Island and New Jersey say lawmakers have made it too easy and attractive to sue and reform must happen. “New Yorkers once again pay more for medical liability than anywhere in America,” Tom Stebbins, executive director of Lawsuit Reform Alliance of New York told Legal Newsline. “Sadly, Albany recently made matters worse by approving legislation that expands liability and makes it easier to file lawsuits.” The “2018 Medical Malpractice Payout Analysis” released March 1 by Diederich Health Care, a medical liability insurance and consulting company based in Carbondale, Illinois, includes figures comparing medical malpractice rates among states. Among Northeast states, New York topped the list for the most malpractice cases with a total approximate $617,973,000 in payouts with Pennsylvania second at $342,093,300, and New Jersey third with $267,913,250. The lowest in the Northeast were the District of Columbia with $11,498,500, Delaware with $8,253,250 and Vermont at the bottom with $1,536,500. Among Midwestern states, Illinois was far in the lead with $300,790,050 in payouts with Michigan second at $77,072,200. The lowest Midwestern states were Wisconsin at $13,527,100, North Dakota with $3,505,000 and…

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February 2017 Newsletter

  Act NOW for Medical Liability Reform – New Federal Bill Introduced Our grassroots network has been activated to generate support for the Protecting Access to Care Act (H.R. 1215), a new federal bill introduced last Friday that is based on proven state medical liability reforms and which will tackle health care costs that are rising as a result of a broken system. The Protecting Access to Care Act, introduced by Rep. Steve King (R-IA), includes well-known, traditional reforms that ensure full and unlimited recovery of economic damages, allowing for payment of past and future medical expenses, lost wages, rehabilitation costs, and other out of pocket expenses.  The legislation also permits the additional recovery of up to $250,000 for non-economic damages, such as damages awarded for pain and suffering. The bill will be considered by the House Judiciary Committee TOMORROW (Tuesday). Click here to get contact information for committee members and express your support of this critical legislation. The Protecting Access to Care Act also includes a reasonable statute of limitations for filing lawsuits and limits attorney fees, allowing for speedier resolution of claims, and ensuring that damage awards go to deserving patients – not personal injury lawyers. It also…

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Scope of practice should set limits on medical liability testimony

Which medical professionals are qualified to provide medical causation testimony before a court? In Frausto v. Yakima HMA, the Supreme Court of Washington will determine whether an advanced registered nurse practitioner (ARNP) is qualified to testify as to the causation of a patient’s medical condition. Rudy Frausto, a quadriplegic, presented to Yakima Regional Medical Center with symptoms of general body weakness, influenza and pneumonia. He was treated for 10 days and, during that time, developed decubitus ulcers. Frausto sued the hospital for medical malpractice. To support his claim, Frausto offered an affidavit from Karen Wilkinson, an ARNP. Wilkinson’s affidavit stated that the hospital had failed to provide Frausto with proper bedding, skin assessments and other care and had thus caused the bed sores. A trial court noted that Wilkinson had practiced as a licensed nurse for more than 26 years, had taught other nurses and had extensive experience as a staff nurse. The court held that she was qualified to testify as to the standard of care. But the court also held that Wilkinson, as a nurse, was unqualified to testify about medical causation. Frausto appealed to the Supreme Court of Washington. “The ability to testify accurately regarding causation is…

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New Directions in Medical Liability Reform

Medical liability reform has maintained a tenacious hold on the national policy agenda. During the first several years of the 21st century, a malpractice insurance “crisis” prompted vociferous demands by organized medicine and liability insurers for tort reforms to curb litigation costs.1 Many observers anticipated that once the insurance market calmed, so too would calls for reform. Instead, a new force for change emerged — health care reform. Leading up to the passage of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act in March 2010, federal liability reforms were contemplated as a means of garnering support for the legislation among congressional Republicans and medical professional organizations. Although no liability-reform provisions survived in the final bill, Congress made clear the need for more experimentation. The final legislation authorized $50 million for states and health care systems to test new approaches to the resolution of medical-injury disputes. This authorization supplemented the $23 million that the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality (AHRQ) awarded in 2010 for projects to advance new approaches to medical-injury compensation and patient safety. As policymakers’ attention has shifted from winning passage of the health reform bill to determining how to implement and pay for it, medical liability reform has…

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