Newsletters

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September 2020 Newsletter

Oregon court errs in liability ruling The Oregon Supreme Court has ruled against the state’s limits on non-economic damages for personal injury cases, with the state’s wrongful death cap remaining, putting an attractive place to practice medicine in limbo. Initially enacted in 1987, the reasonable limit of $500,000 on non-economic damages was found unconstitutional in 1999, but reinstated when the court overruled itself in 2016, before again changing its mind this year. This roller coaster ride created significant uncertainty for patients and physicians alike. The Litigation Center of the American Medical Association and State Medical Societies, the Oregon Medical Association (OMA) and the American College of Obstetrics and Gynecologists (ACOG) filed an amicus brief with the court urging the limits be maintained. “While physicians continue to provide quality healthcare to their patients as they have done for centuries, the burdens on the profession continue to increase. No one does their best work while under duress and physicians are no exception. For all patients to be able to receive quality health care and for our medical system to continue functioning, there must be reasonable limits on liability,” the brief stated. Unfortunately, the court ruled in a different direction. In striking down…

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August 2020 Newsletter

Just the facts: COVID-19 liability reforms As the need to head off a COVID-19 medical liability crisis grows, the American Medical Association (AMA) highlights the Health Coalition on Liability and Access’ (HCLA’s) advocacy efforts in building support for the facts of the matter. With COVID-19 cases building at a rate nearing 50,000 per day, risks of unwarranted lawsuits remain for physicians treating pandemic patients. This risk also threatens patient access to aspects of the health care system that may be disrupted as a result. Pending in the House of Representatives is H.R. 7059, the Coronavirus Provider Protection Act. Similar protections are included in S. 4317, the SAFE TO WORK Act, under consideration for the Senate pandemic stimulus bill. “Physicians and other health care professionals are putting themselves at risk every day while facing shortages of medical supplies and safety equipment, as well as changing directives and guidance from all levels of government,” then-AMA President Patrice A. Harris, MD, MA, said previously. While opposition arguments exaggerate the reach and intent of the bill, the AMA highlights six arguments developed by the HCLA that spells out the reality of how pending legislation would address COVID-19 liability issues: • Providing limited and targeted protection…

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July 2020 Newsletter

Senate stimulus bill introduced with COVID-19 liability protections A second economic stimulus bill introduced in the U.S. Senate this week (S. 4317, the “Safeguarding America’s Frontline Employees To Offer Work Opportunities Required to Kickstart the Economy Act” or the “SAFE TO WORK Act”) incorporates important liability protections for frontline medical providers and facilities. The issue has remained unresolved at the federal level since the start of the pandemic. This is of particular concern given the national nature of the crisis and the lack or inadequacy of sufficient state-level protections. Language in the bill creates an exclusive federal cause of action for injuries resulting from the treatment, diagnosis, or care of coronavirus, or care directly affected by the coronavirus. In addition, the bill preserves state laws which provide even greater levels of protection for our frontline healthcare professionals. The HCLA has also supported a bipartisan standalone bill, H.R. 7059, that addresses the legal vulnerabilities faced by healthcare providers as a result of the pandemic. Both H.R. 7059 and S. 4317 appropriately exclude liability protections in situations of gross negligence or willful misconduct. Speaking in support of the bill, Senate Majority Leader Mitch McConnell stated, “Nobody should have to face an epidemic…

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