February 2018 Newsletter

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  • February 28, 2018

Show me liability reform

A recent push for liability reform in Missouri could show patients how a reduction in medical lawsuit abuse can improve access to care across the states.
Building on Governor Greitens’ emphasis on the need for changes to the state’s liability system, a new bill would bring an efficient resolution to those with legitimate claims. The latest bill, introduced by State Senator Dan Hegeman, allows physicians to address claims promptly by redefining the statute of limitations to three years.
“Missouri has not amended the five-year statute since 1939,” Hegeman told the Senate government reform committee. “While five years may have made sense in an age when transportation and communication were more challenging, there is no reason today for an injured person to need so much time to file the action.”
The shorter statute of limitations gives physicians peace of mind that any claims of negligence are addressed quickly, and deserving patients benefit from a system that better separates meritless lawsuits from rightful claims for damages.
To read more about Missouri’s efforts to further reform their liability system for patients and physicians, click here.

Sweeping changes to liability system would bring benefits to Kentucky

Initiating legislation that would bring benefits and improvements to Kentucky’s liability climate, members of the State Senate brought forward a bill with the state’s patients in mind.
With provisions that limit the fees of personal injury attorneys in favor of deserving patients, give physicians the ability to make statements of sympathy, and require affidavits of merit to ensure only legitimate claims move forward, the bill passed a committee vote and moves forward for consideration.
This means more money in the pockets of deserving patients – not personal injury attorneys – with fewer meritless lawsuits overwhelming the state’s legal system. And physicians would be able to candidly apologize to patients for adverse outcome without the comments being used as an admission of guilt.
The state’s business community and the Chamber of Commerce endorse the bill, introduced by a Kentucky physician.
“The Kentucky Chamber has been a longtime supporter of legal liability reform,” said Ashli Watts, the Kentucky Chamber of Commerce’s senior vice president for public affairs. “According to the Institute for Legal Reform, Kentucky is ranked 42nd for our legal liability climate, which is negative factor for businesses when looking at where to locate, invest, etc.”
This legislative effort follows the passage of medical review panel legislation in 2017, with panels of experts able to review claims and fulfill the affidavit of merit requirement when patients are found to be victims of negligence.
To read more about the latest liability reform legislation in Kentucky, click here.

Good Samaritan bill one step closer to law

Recent actions in the House of Representatives brought medical liability legislation one step closer to protecting Good Samaritans in times of need.
H.R. 1876, the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, passed the House Energy & Commerce Committee and ensures adherence to existing medical liability laws in individual states, while creating a more comprehensive and clear approach to medical volunteerism during a federally declared disaster.
The protections in the bill will only apply to licensed health care providers, and will not apply to a health care provider if the harm caused was criminal or deliberate in nature.
Passage of the bill into law will ensure that Good Samaritan health care providers are not targeted by meritless lawsuits and that states across the country do not face a shortage of medical volunteers when disaster strikes.
To read the HCLA fact sheet on the bill, highlighting the wide scope of disaster declarations over the past ten years,click here .