Oregon’s Senate voted earlier this month in favor of a bill that provides victims of medical malpractice and doctors and alternative to a medical malpractice lawsuit where such an alternative would be appropriate. The hope is that this bill will reduce the number of medical malpractice lawsuits. While the bill does not limit damages against doctors and other medical providers it will provide victims and medical providers with a process that will give closure. This type of approach has been successful in reducing the number of medical malpractice cases other states.
This bill gives authority to the Oregon Patient Safety Commission to allow patients and providers to voluntarily come together. They can discuss the incident that led to the patient’s injury and agree to mediate. Doctors would also be given a chance to recognize and correct their medical errors, leading to better results overall. Providers can also offer a settlement as part of the process. Additionally, if it is appropriate, the provider can give an apology. All the discussions would be confidential and therefore could not be entered into evidence if there is subsequently a lawsuit in most cases.
The panel that produced this bill was part of an effort to overhaul delivery of health care under the Oregon Health Plan to low income recipients. The Governor of Oregon, John Kitzhaber, brought the proposal to the legislature to ensure that Oregon’s liability system fit the shared vision of transforming the health care system.
However, there are some medical providers who opposed this bill because it does not contain a cap on liability as some expected there to be. But the people and the courts in Oregon do not seem to be in favor of liability caps. Previous Oregon measures 2000 and 2004 that would have established liability caps were rejected by voters. Additionally in 1999 the Oregon Supreme Court overturned a $500,000 legislative cap on noneconomic damages, stating that it violated the Oregon Constitution.
But what do you think? I would love to hear from you! Leave a comment or I also welcome your phone call on my toll-free cell at 1-866-889-6882 or you can drop me an e-mail at [email protected] . You are always welcome to request my FREE book, The Seven Deadly Mistakes of Malpractice Victims, at the home page of my website at www.protectingpatientrights.com.