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Law written to deter frivolous malpractice lawsuits declared unconstitutional

The Oklahoman | National, News, Oklahoma | Source | October 25, 2017

A state law designed to deter the filing of frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits was declared unconstitutional Tuesday by the Oklahoma Supreme Court. This is the third time the state Supreme Court has struck down similar legislation. In each case, the Legislature attempted to deter frivolous negligence lawsuits by requiring the person filing the lawsuit to include an affidavit from an expert witness attesting that the claim has merit. “The obvious purpose of the affidavit requirement reflects the Legislature’s desire to weed out non-meritorious negligence claims,” the Supreme Court noted. However, all three rejected versions of the state statute created “a costly, meaningless and arbitrary barrier to court access,” the Court said. Justices also ruled that the rejected statute was an unconstitutional special law that “impinges on the district court’s adjudicative authority.” Legislatively removing “the discretionary component in (the) adjudicative process is a usurpation of the courts’ freedom that is essential to the judiciary’s independence from the other two branches,” the Supreme Court said. Wes Glinsmann, executive director of the Oklahoma State Medical Association, expressed disappointment in the ruling Tuesday. “We are in the process of reviewing the ruling but, at first glance, it certainly appears to be a disappointing step…

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Arkansans for Jobs and Justice Launches Campaign for Real Tort Reform in Arkansas

Arkansas Medical Society | Arkansas, National, News | Source | October 17, 2017

A coalition representing a diverse group of Arkansans has joined together to support commonsense reforms that will help make Arkansas more competitive with surrounding states and protect everyday Arkansans. Paperwork was filed today for Arkansans for Jobs and Justice to advocate for the passage of SJR8. The committee will be anchored by the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce with leadership from the Arkansas Medical Society, The Poultry Federation, Arkansas Health Care Association and Arkansas Trucking Association. “It’s time to once again level the playing field in Arkansas with commonsense reforms that strike a balance between protecting the rights of everyday Arkansans while creating an environment of economic growth and job creation in Arkansas,” said Randy Zook, President of the Arkansas State Chamber of Commerce. “Unfortunately, the progress made on tort reform in 2003 has been stripped away, piece by piece, over the last 14 years by the Arkansas Supreme Court, making a constitutional amendment necessary. The passage of SJR8 by the voters of Arkansas will make Arkansas more competitive with surrounding states while still protecting the right to a jury trial and damages.” The legislative effort for the tort reform measure passed in 2003 was led by the Arkansas Medical…

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‘Sorry’ doesn’t mean they’ll sue: How hospitals avoided lawsuits after adverse events

HealthExec | Massachusetts, National, News | Source | October 3, 2017

Communication-and-resolution programs (CRP) at four Massachusetts hospitals led to lower medical liability costs and improvements in patient safety after adverse events, countering concerns that telling patients about errors would motivate more to file lawsuits. Led by Stanford University health law professor Michelle Mello, PhD and published in the October issue of Health Affairs, the study evaluated programs implemented at six hospitals run by either Beth Israel Deaconess Medical Center or Bayside Medical Center. Their CRP protocol, called CARe (Communication, Apology and Resolution) was introduced in their large level 1 trauma centers (Beth Irael’s 672-bed Boston facility and Baystate’s 716-bed facility in Springfield, Massachusetts) as well as two Baystate community hospitals. The protocol was used in all clinical settings for all adverse events. When events met (or when a patient alleged they met) a severity threshold, it was included in the evaluation. That threshold was any event which caused harm to a patient which either led to or extended a hospitalization, necessitated an invasive procedure or resulted in at least three outpatient visits. If an investigation finds significant violations in the standard of care, the CARe protocol calls for providers and liability insurers apologize to patients and proactively offer compensation. The…

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