Nearly Two Dozen Liability Reform Bills Adopted in Oklahoma Summer Push

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  • September 18, 2013

Significant liability reform legislation is back on the books in Oklahoma following a special summer session of the state legislature.

Last week Oklahoma Gov. Mary Fallin signed into law 23 separate liability reform bills, following a June ruling of the Oklahoma Supreme Court that tossed out a reform law the state adopted in 2009. The court ruled that the law violated the state’s constitutional provision that prohibits including more than one subject in a bill.

The state legislature met earlier this month for its first special session since 2006 to reinstate the provisions of the overturned law in single-subject bills. Among the reforms included in these bills are an affidavit of merit requirement, expert testimony standards, and emergency and volunteer liability protections.

The AMA and the Oklahoma State Medical Association (OSMA) worked together to advance the effort.

“An ineffectual medical liability system reduces patients’ access to health care—particularly high-risk procedures,” the AMA stated in a letterPDF FIle of support sent to each state lawmaker. “It hinders patients’ communications with their physicians, adds to the costs of patients’ health care expenses and forces patients to go through additional tests and procedures.”

“These laws had already begun paying dividends for Oklahoma’s physicians and their patients, and we are glad that lawmakers understood the important role these reforms play in promoting access to care,” OSMA President Robert McCaffree, MD, said in a statement.

The AMA continues to support proven reforms to rein in the broken medical liability system, reduce the growth of health care costs and preserve patients’ access to medical care. The AMA also is committed to testing alternative reforms, such as safe harbors for the practice of evidence-based medicine, to determine whether these innovations can improve patient care and reduce costs.

Visit the AMA’s medical liability reform Web page to learn more about AMA efforts to promote reform across the country.