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March 2018 Newsletter

PPN | Kentucky, New York, News, Newsletter, Pennsylvania, Wyoming | Source | March 28, 2018

Bad examples: New York, Pennsylvania lead national liability rates Without reform to keep medical lawsuit abuse in check, examples of the inefficiencies of our nation’s liability system are emerging in several states in the form of increasingly large payouts. According to a recent survey by Diederich Health Care, a medical liability insurance and consulting company, New York topped the list for the largest liability payouts in 2017 with a total of nearly $618 million, with Pennsylvania second at $342 million and Illinois not far behind with $301 million. What do these states have in common? None have reasonable limits on non-economic damages in place, with liability climates that have worsened in recent years due to lawmakers who are more likely to push for changes that benefit personal injury attorneys rather than patients. In New York, 30,000 members of the Medical Society of the State of New York opposed extending the state’s statute of limitations on liability claims because it would increase their already high liability costs and drive more doctors out of the state. Unfortunately, the law passed, lengthening the statute of limitations from 15 to 30 months, beginning not when the error occurred, but the date at which the…

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Bill would give liability protection to volunteer doctors in bid to cover low-income Wyomingites

Seth Klamann, Casper Star Tribune | News, Wyoming | Source | March 28, 2018

Physicians and health facilities that provide voluntary care to low-income patients would have state protection for liability lawsuits under a bill being considered in the Wyoming Senate. The bill — Senate File 66 — would allow the Wyoming Department of Health to contract with volunteer health providers and facilities to make them state employees. That way, the state would “have the duty to defend a health care provider alleged to have been negligent” in delivering care. The voluntary health providers or facilities would have to offer care to low-income patients, meaning people with an income at or beneath 200 percent of the current federal poverty line, according to the bill. The measure — originally sponsored by the Joint Judiciary Interim Committee — was approved by two Senate subcommittees and is currently set to be considered by the entire body. The liability of volunteer physicians has been a concern of the medical community, said Stefan Johansson, the policy administrators for the health department. “I expect there has been hesitation” to provide volunteer care, agreed Kevin Bohnenblust, the executive director of the Wyoming Board of Medicine. “That’s the nature of the times we live in.” The bill would cost about $50,000 a…

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Medical tort-reform bill moves to House

Ohio County Monitor | Delaware, Kentucky, News | Source | March 28, 2018

FRANKFORT, Ky. — The Senate approved an omnibus medical tort-reform measure yesterday that would regulate everything from trial attorney fees, medical record copying charges and which malpractice lawsuits can advance in the courts. Among its many provisions, Senate Bill 20 would require medical malpractice lawsuits to contain an affidavit of merit. That’s a document stating that at least one doctor agrees the claim has merit. A medical review panel opinion in favor of a patient would fulfill the affidavit of merit requirement. Senate Bill 4 from 2017 created panels of experts to review claims of medical error or neglect. If the medical review panel finds in favor of the medical provider, however, the patient would still have to get an affidavit of merit to advance to court. A second provision would impose contingency caps on attorney fees in medical malpractice cases. An amendment would set those caps at no more than 33 percent of any awarded damages. “Some will argue this is an infringement on the free market,” Sen. Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, who introduced the legislation. “I feel it is a protection against predatory legal practices in Kentucky.” A third provision is known as the “I’m sorry” clause. It would…

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