May 2013 Newsletter

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  • June 28, 2013

May 2013 Newsletter

Protect Patients Now

Volume 8, Issue 5

May 2013 Newsletter




Special points of interest:

Protecting Our Good Samaritans

Rx for Health Care Crisis? A Dose of Medical Liability Reform

Saying You’re Sorry

Protecting Our Good Samaritans

Hurricane Katrina. Superstorm Sandy. Midwestern tornadoes. When large-scale disasters strike, medical professionals often rush to the scene to provide immediate care to victims. Unfortunately, due to inconsistencies in federal and state laws, these volunteer health care professionals have been turned away or limited in the scope of their assistance because of the threat of medical liability lawsuits.

Introduced by Representatives Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) and Jim Matheson (D-UT), H.R. 1733, The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act would help protect medical volunteers from lawsuits during a federally declared disaster, and ensure that vital health care services often provided by medical volunteers remain available.

The protections in H.R. 1733 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.

The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act will ensure that an adequate supply of trained health care professionals are ready, willing and able to volunteer their services during a catastrophe, and that they will not be deterred or turned away due to the threat of lawsuits. Protect Patients Now will keep our network of grassroots supporters up-to-date as the bill makes its way through Congress. To read the text of the bill in full, click here.

Rx for Health Care Crisis? A Dose of Medical Liability Reform

A study this month by a leading bipartisan policy organization made several recommendations on how to reign in health care costs and improve patient care, while prescribing changes to our medical liability system.

The report from the Bipartisan Policy Center, headed by former Senate Majority leaders Tom Daschle, D-SD, and Bill Frist, R-TN; former Sen. Pete Domenici, R-NM; and former Congressional Budget Office Director Alice Rivlin, Ph.D, identifies medical liability reform as a necessary component of comprehensive health care reform.

“Our nation’s current medical liability system has long been criticized as ineffective, serving both patients and providers poorly,” the report says. “Patients deserve care that is safe and effective, and they should be fairly and promptly compensated if they are harmed by negligent or irresponsible care delivery.”

The study recommends the creation of a panel consisting of patients, health care providers, and other stakeholders who would be able to make a determination on the feasibility of using evidence-based medicine as a defense in medical liability claims.

With leading health care policy makers again putting medical liability reform front and center in the health care debate, we encourage their former colleagues in Congress to move forward with key initiatives that would protect patients – not personal injury lawyers. You can click here to read the full report from the Bipartisan Policy Center.

Saying You’re Sorry

In a ruling last month, the Ohio Supreme Court clarified that statements of sympathy or apology by a physician to a patient cannot be used as evidence in a medical liability lawsuit.

The decision was prompted by a liability case that accused Dr. Randall Smith, a general surgeon from Ohio, of admitting his guilt to causing complications after removing a woman’s gall bladder and allegedly making apologetic statements.

While a law was enacted in 2004 preventing medical apologies from being used as evidence, this incident had occurred prior to its passage.

Dr. William Wulf, medical director of Central Ohio Primary Care, argued in favor of the “I’m Sorry” statute.

“Physicians are and should be sympathetic and empathetic. Fear of future legal action shouldn’t impede that,” Dr. Wulf said.

The Ohio State Medical Association plans to urge the legislature to introduce a bill to further clarify the medical apology law and ensure that physicians are able to express apologies, sympathies or condolences regarding an unanticipated patient outcome without the threat of a medical liability lawsuit. To read more about the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold Ohio’s “I’m Sorry” law, click here.