The Georgia Senate has approved a bill without any caps for non-economic damages. The caps were originally approved by a one vote margin but then after a Senator asked for a reconsideration, the caps were voted down 31-24. The passed bill grants immunity to hospitals who use independent contractor physicians, shields EDs in some cases and makes juries focus on degree of fault. The House bill focused on the insurance industry. the two now need to be reconciled.
Ohio Governor Taft signed into law a bill will allow the state to become a malpractice carrier for those physicians who can not get insurance elsewhere. The bill also put caps on non-economic damages. The caps will be challenged in the courts as they were previously. The state supreme court is now Republican appointed and may pass the laws.
Missouri has passed legislation by the Senate to give tax breaks to physicians for their malpractice premiums. They passed a tax credit along with caps. This differs with the House and must be coordinated. After the two houses agreed the bill went to the Democratic Governor who vetoed the measure. He stated he vetoed the bill since it did nothing to contain any insurance premiums and was anti injured people. The major objection was the venue to sue must be where the incident happened. This would have stopped the lawyer's forum shopping. This is the second time he has vetoed a med mal reform bill. The Governor is known to be a friend to the trial lawyers. the Houses will attempt to override the veto.
Across the river in Illinois, the Democratic Governor will also veto any law that is anti the trial attorneys. However, that is moot since both houses of the legislature are also Democratically controlled. Two northern Illinois counties have already lost over a hundred physicians each and there is a scarcity in southern Illinois of neurosurgeons and OBs, including the Governors wife's own doctor who quit after receiving a $200,000 malpractice premium.
In Florida the St. Petersburg Times in a bit of yellow journalism came with the headline "House votes to hide malpractice". The bill was actually to keep incident reports under the peer review privilege. The final vote in the House was 80-38.
The Florida Senate turned down a bill that would give immunity to radiologists who misread mammograms. Instead the bill was change to study the accessibility of mammograms.
Iowa has passed a bill creating a $250,000 cap on non-economic injuries but the Governor, a past-president of the trial lawyers will not sign the bill. The Governor is, of course, a Democrat.
In Connecticut, a Democratic controlled state, the state Senate approved a two year old bill that had no caps. It states that the judge must oversee pre-trial mediation and would give physicians a 100% tax credit for their entire malpractice premiums if the premiums exceed 25% of the taxable income. The Governor has stated he will veto any bill without caps. Top
The CMS has reported that Riverside Hospital in Riverside, California, is responsible for the deaths of two emergency room patients. The actual cause was a shortage of surgeons and specialists and staffing gaps. In their 27 page report the CMS detailed how a patient died after a surgeon left the hospital minutes before the start of a surgical procedure to attend another critically ill patient at another hospital. The other case was when a patient died after nine hours of delays the surgeon refused to operate since the patient's condition had significantly deteriorated. This hospital is a trauma center that last year was cited for running unlicensed medical units and using unsterilized surgical equipment. The hospital will now start contracting with physicians to take call.
The Congress has taken care of the antitrust suit against the hospitals by medical students in the MATCH program. An act of Congress made the antitrust action legal stopping all litigation.
In the last few editions of Medicalaw.net, I have talked about the probable cover-up at Maryland General Hospital in their erroneous HIV and Hepatitis readings. The College of American Pathologists inspected the facility last year and gave it high marks in spite of the fact that it found that it had not followed its own quality assurance plan for over a year. It sounds like the CAP is taking lessons from the JCAHO. The hospital is now under investigation for Medicaid fraud for billing for lab tests they knew to be false. The hospital CEO and two officials in charge of the lab have resigned. Top
President Bush signed into law the Organ Donation and Recovery Improvement Act. This allows payment by grants to reimburse living donors for travel and other incidental expenses along with a public awareness program and other matters related to transplantation. Top
In Michigan, the House voted to protect providers from fines or suit if they refuse to perform a procedure or fill a prescription on moral, ethical or religious grounds. The Republican controlled House voted on Catholic on Wednesday as the Catholics looked on from the balcony. The refusals would not cover emergency procedures.
Next door in Wisconsin, the Governor vetoed a similar bill. There is already a "conscience clause" in place that allows providers to decline to perform abortions and sterilizations for moral or religious reasons. The new bill would have added other procedures and more protections for those refusing. Top
By 2007, the hospitals inspected by the JCAHO would need to have bar codes at all bedsides, according to a recent JCAHO proposal. The new proposals would also reconcile medication during patient transfers, fall reduction, reduce risk of surgical fires and independent double checks on all programmed infusion pumps. Although the goals of these are excellent, the devil is in the details and should raise the question to most hospitals "Do we need to be JCAHO accredited?" or should we go to the alternatives of either using the AOA or the State Department of Health of our Medicare deeming. Top
In the be careful what you do when you legislate because it is stupid category, California passed a law in 1982 giving counties money for indigent care providing no county sued the state successfully over the program. In 1991, the vehicle tax was increased to provide more funding and had the above wording in the bill. Recently San Diego County successfully sued the state over the decision to recover indigent care costs. This caused the whole program to self destruct. The legislature had to now pass new legislation for the remainder of this fiscal year to enable the payments that now reach $90 million to be sent to the counties. More legislation is needed to rid the state of the stupid original legislation on a permanent basis. Top
DISCLAIMER: Although this article is updated periodically, it reflects the author's point of view at the time of publication. Nothing in this article constitutes legal advice. Readers should consult with their own legal counsel before acting on any of the information presented.