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Cure for Defense Medicine Should Include Dose of Liability Reform
From the perspectives of patients and physicians, doses of medical liability reform should be prescribed to ensure high quality health care and reduce the practice of defensive medicine.
Dr. Ezekiel Emanuel and health care policy fellow Bob Kocher penned an editorial in Forbes on the opportunities to advance the topic in Congress, encouraging bipartisan cooperation on an area of mutual agreement – medical liability reform.
The authors cite statistics about our medical liability system that have now become common knowledge to readers of the PPN newsletter – that nearly every neurosurgeon will be sued during his or her career, that the system works for neither patients nor physicians, and that more often than not, deserving patients are not compensated.
While the writers express support for liability reform, they use the same old arguments to dismiss those reforms that have already proven most effective – like caps on subjective non-economic damages. Instead they advocate for untested reforms such as health courts and, their preferred option, medical safe harbors. Still, they do note that “we desperately need reform” in some capacity.
“No matter how it’s done, reforming our broken medical malpractice system would mark an important step in ‘fixing’ the [Affordable Care Act],” write Emanuel and Kocher.
To read Emanuel and Kocher’s op-ed in full, click here.
HCLA Supports Good Samaritan Bill to Protect Access to Care
The Health Coalition on Liability and Access pledged its support for the newly introduced Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act and applauded Rep. Marsha Blackburn (R-TN) for her leadership in reintroducing this bill in the 114th Congress.
The Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act would help protect medical volunteers from lawsuits during a large-scale disaster, and ensure that vital health care services are available to disaster victims without altering liability laws that may currently exist in a particular state.
“The introduction of the Good Samaritan Health Professionals Act, at this early stage of the 114th Congress, is an encouraging step in the right direction to protect patient access to critical care when they need it most – in the days and weeks following a catastrophic event,” said Mike Stinson, HCLA Chair.
The bill has bipartisan support from a large group of original cosponsors, including lead Democratic sponsor Rep. David Scott (D-GA). Joining Blackburn and Scott are Rep. Dan Benishek (R-MI), Rep. Gus Bilirakis (R-FL), Rep. Michael Burgess (R-TX), Rep. Chuck Fleischmann (R-TN), Rep. Morgan Griffith (R-VA), Rep. Brett Guthrie (R-KY), Rep. Phil Roe (R-TN), Rep. Aaron Schock (R-IL), and Rep. Don Young (R-AK).
While medical professionals have expressed a willingness to volunteer in the wake of a crisis or natural disaster, there have been instances where some were turned away or limited in their ability to provide assistance because of the threat of medical liability lawsuits.
The HCLA will work with Members of Congress on both sides of the aisle to garner additional support for the bill and will continue to push for passage of comprehensive medical liability reform legislation at the federal level.
HCLA Prepares for Federal Action on Liability Reform in 2015
The HCLA met this week in Washington for its annual meeting and relayed the encouraging signs that reforms would be addressed in 2015.
Speakers at the annual meeting addressed liability concerns related to telemedicine, pilot programs authorized by the Department of Health and Human Services, and proposals to create “patient compensation systems.”
Kate Reback, with the Agency for Healthcare Research and Quality, spoke in detail on the communication and resolution programs in the works in selected hospital systems around the country. She noted that these were heavily influenced by the University of Michigan Health System, which some hold up as a model for reducing liability costs and improving patient safety.
HCLA members also voted on it 2015 officers, with Mike Stinson of PIAA and Katie Orrico of the American Association of Neurological Surgeons confirmed again as chair and vice chair, respectively. In addition, Catherine Boudreaux of the American Association of Orthopaedic Surgeons was elected as the new secretary, and coalition members elected the American Medical Association’s George Cox to another term on the governing Executive Committee.
With a good deal of action on liability reform already in the 114th Congress, HCLA members left encouraged by the organization’s work and with a clear agenda on the year ahead. We will continue to keep our Protect Patients Now grassroots network updated on medical liability reform developments at the state and federal level as they arise.