Oregon is attempting to curb the high costs of health care by lowering the number and the amount paid out for medical malpractice lawsuits. There is a bill in the works that will go before the Oregon legislature that would set a limit on the amount of punitive damages victims of medical malpractice would be able to collect. Additionally, the governor has put forth a plan that would implement a system that would encourage patients and medical care providers to talk rather than sue thereby hoping to decrease the number of medical malpractice lawsuits.
The bill (LC299) is intended to only cap the amount of punitive damages victims of medical malpractice would be able to recover to three times economic damages and non-economic damages. The intent behind this bill to cut the cost of health care by lowering medical malpractice premiums while reducing the number of unnecessary tests and procedures doctors use to protect themselves against lawsuits. This is believed that this bill is essential to making a dent in the problem of high health care costs.
The governor’s plan seeks to create a system that is more open and would help prevent errors from occurring and help patients. Under the plan, medical care providers would be required to file notice when a serious error occurs and also meet with the patient to attempt to resolve the issue. In the cases where no agreement could be reached there would be an attempt to mediate the issue. Should mediation be unsuccessful the patient would begin legal action.
It is hoped that this approach would encourage communication between doctors and patients. This type of communication may increase the chance of learning from the errors made and avoid repeating them in the future. Additionally, patients would be compensated at the same time litigation costs are reduced and less defensive medicine is used.
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