The U.S. House of Representatives has passed a bill with a provision in it that would give doctors more protection from medical malpractice lawsuits.
The provision is tucked away in a bill that will require doctors who receive payment for federal health care programs, such as the Affordable Care Act, Medicaid and Medicare, to be rated by the government on the quality of care that is received. This rating will be from zero to 100; however, the standards used to provide that rating -- according to the new provision -- can't be used in medical malpractice cases.
Doctors are concerned that with the new measuring systems that are constantly being added, there will be increased legal risks if lawyers and their medical malpractice clients can use the standards in court as a means of showing that a doctor was negligent.
The bill passed with a vote of 392 to 37 and was sponsored by Rep. Michael Burgess, R-Texas. He said that doctors would be helped because they would no longer be in a constant threat of payment cuts. However, not everyone is happy with the bill's passage in the House.
One expert on insurance law and a professor at the University of Pennsylvania said that not using the new guidelines and standards for medical malpractice cases simply does not make sense. He said that the standards "indicated what a reasonable doctor does and should do."
The Doctors Company, which is a medical malpractice insurer, said through its vice president that medical experts should be responsible for establishing the standard of care and not federal guidelines.
The bill is expected to pass the Senate, so it's important to consider this bill when thinking about a medical malpractice lawsuit. An experienced attorney can provide more information on how this bill may affect such a case.
Source: The New York Times, "House Provision Offers Doctors More Protection Against Malpractice Suits," Robert Pear, March. 30, 2015