July 2017 Newsletter

 

Ailing liability system not fair to deserving patients

Even as the prospects for larger efforts to reform our nation’s health care system remain uncertain, there’s hope that medical liability reform could make incremental progress on reducing costs and restoring fairness to deserving patients.

An editorial this month highlights the progress made by the House of Representatives in passing the Protecting Access to Care Act in order to align a patchwork of state liability laws and ensure full compensation of medical bills and lost wages to patients who are the victims of medical negligence.

Unfortunately, personal injury attorneys continue to stand in the way of full passage of medical liability reform by the Senate.

According to the editorial, “fairness is elusive,” particularly to patients, who are subject to a system that adds billions of dollars in health care spending each year, lost to defensive medicine and sky-high premiums that reduce access to care.

With the ball now in the court of the Senate, “lawmakers who say they’re committed to addressing ‘affordable’ health care need to stop dancing around malpractice tort reform and address what’s grown into a significant, if not inordinate, cost driver,” the editorial concludes.

To read more about continued efforts to fully pass medical liability reform, click here.


Commentary: Florida courts undermine legislative policy on liability reform

In early June, the Florida Supreme Court struck down reasonable limits on non-economic damages, ruling that the Legislature had no rational basis for imposing them – and placing patient access to care at risk.

Commentary on the ruling emphasizes the outsized role the court played in its decision, calling into question the extent of medical lawsuit abuse that necessitated action in the first place.

And several of the justices agreed. In a dissenting opinion, three justices wrote “it is the Legislature’s task to decide whether a medical malpractice crisis exists, whether a medical malpractice crisis has abated, and whether the Florida Statutes should be amended accordingly.”

By making those determinations itself, “the court crowned itself fact-finder and policymaker, rejecting all of the Legislature’s work and its role under our system of government,” wrote William Large of the Florida Justice Reform Institute.

Unfortunately for Florida’s patient population, striking down medical liability reform without a solution at the federal level brings with it higher costs and difficulty in accessing critical health care services.

To read more about the Florida Supreme Court’s ruling on liability reform, click here.


Patient access to care jeopardized following Wisconsin liability ruling

Finding access to care could be painful, following a recent decision by a Wisconsin appellate court to overturn the state’s limits on non-economic damages.

Wisconsin is the latest state to see its efforts on reforming a broken system that works for neither patients nor physicians overturned by the courts. And with a federal solution still pending in Congress, patients will be left with higher costs and fewer options for accessible care when they need it most.

Eliminating the cap will “negatively impact Wisconsin communities’ efforts to attract physicians to provide accessible quality health care to their residents,” said Eric Borgerding, President of the Wisconsin Hospital Association.

The case now heads to the Supreme Court for consideration.

To read more about how the ruling could affect Wisconsin patients and physicians, click here.


PPN’s Dr. Weinstein: A doctor’s place is in the exam room

An editorial piece by Protect Patient Now’s own Dr. Stuart Weinstein continues to reach additional patient and physician audiences concerned with the state of our nation’s broken liability system.

Posting most recently on KevinMD.com, Dr. Weinstein highlighted the similar issues faced by many specialty physicians, including orthopaedic surgeons and neurosurgeons, as a result of a costly and ineffective medical liability system.

“As a pediatric orthopaedic surgeon practicing for more than 40 years in Iowa City, I’ve seen countless colleagues forced to defend their treatment decisions and reputations — leaving less time for patients — only for the lawsuits to be dropped, dismissed or withdrawn for lack of merit,” Dr. Weinstein writes.

This unfortunately pulls physicians out of the exam room, into the courtroom.

“Our medical liability system costs too much, takes too long, undermines the doctor-patient relationship and does not serve the needs of patients or physicians,” he continues.
Contributors to KevinMD.com include front-line primary care doctors, surgeons, specialist physicians, nurses, medical students, policy experts, and of course – patients.

To read Dr. Weinstein’s commentary on KevinMD.com, click here.