Do Connecticut Malpractice Bills Unfairly Target Doctors?


Connecticut patients may find it more difficult to find a doctor if two bills in the legislature pass. Under current Connecticut law, medical malpractice allows patients who have been harmed to seek and receive compensation for their injuries. Under this system, it is in all parties’ best interest to reduce medical errors. Frivolous lawsuits only increase health care costs, while putting additional strain on doctors’ time and resources as the fight lawsuits.

In 2005, the Malpractice Reform Act of 2005 was passed to combat souring insurance premiums. To avoid these high premiums some doctors had moved to other states with more reasonable laws. The 2005 Act requires that a ‘similar’ physician, who has the same training and expertise as the defendant and understands the complexities involved in the case, sign a certificate that states the case has merit. If the bills currently in the Legislature become law, the physician would only need to ‘qualified.’ This would allow someone who has no specific training or understanding of the case to determine whether it has merit.

The Connecticut Trial Lawyers Association supports the new bills. They have claimed for three years that the certificate of merit is such a difficult hurdle that it has prevented meritorious cases from having their day in court. However, they have not shown evidence that any meritorious claim has failed to make it to court because of the certificate of merit requirement. In reality the certificate of merit seems to be a low barrier as most cases that pass this threshold are dropped without settlement, and the defendant prevails most times when the cases make it to court.

Another change these bills would make is shift the accidental failure of suit statute from a safeguard for clerical and administrative mistakes into a statute of limitations fail-safe extension. Under the current law the accidental failure of suit statue cannot be applied to all certificate of merit failures. The new bill would permit such use. Doctors oppose this change because it would make the certificate of merit statue which is already generous more so.

Connecticut is having a difficult time recruiting doctors as it is with the highest medical malpractice rates in the United States. Medical residents leave the state after graduation. Senior physicians choose to retire early. Doctors in Connecticut hesitate to take reluctant cases. If these bills pass the judicial system will be further clogged with claims with questionable merit. Insurers have stated that these bills will lead to premium increases which may lead to more doctors leaving the state.

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