The nation breathed a sigh of relief as the Senate passed its version of the health care reform bill before the holiday break, bringing sweeping changes one step closer to reality. Fortunately, for the sake of past and future victims of medical malpractice, the proposed national health care reform will not contain draconian “tort reform” measures.
Despite strong lobbying from the insurance industry, both the Senate and House versions of the health reform bills do not include damage caps for medical malpractice actions, or other severe forms of medical liability reform. Instead, medical malpractice litigation is left to the individual states’ civil justice system, and the right for a jury to determine what is fair compensation on a case-by-case basis in medical malpractice lawsuits.
The Senate’s bill does provide money towards “state demonstration programs” aimed at evaluating alternatives to the current system of medical tort litigation. Our Chicago medical malpractice lawyers continue to place our faith in a jury of one’s peers to determine what is fair and reasonable compensation for victims of medical negligence.
Under the Senate’s bill, states wishing to set up such demonstration programs must meet specific criteria to receive funding, including:
• Encouraging disclosure of health care errors
• Encouraging collection and analysis of patient safety data related to health care disputes
• Increasing availability of “prompt and fair resolution” of disputes
• Allowing patients to “opt out or voluntarily withdraw” from the alternative program at any time
It remains to be seen what, if any, medical liability reform measures will be included in the final bill sent to President Obama for his signature, including the nature of the “state demonstration program” effort. The hope of medical injury attorneys and their client victims is that any significant tort reform measures will remain absent, or will be more focused at addressing careless and reckless behavior of health care professionals, rather than limiting patient rights.
Medical errors can cause serious, permanent injury or death. Just because an injury occurred as a result of a medical procedure, however, does not mean that medical negligence occurred. Specific criteria must be met in order for a medical malpractice case to be brought. An experienced medical malpractice attorney can help you determine whether malpractice occurred and, if so, ensure you are compensated to the full extent permissible under the law.
For a Free Consultation with one of our top injury attorneys, call Passen & Powell today at (312) 527-4500.