Federal Bill Could Make Medical Malpractice Victims Have A Harder Time In Court


A bill passed the House of Representatives in late March and it contained a provision that would provide doctors with new protections against medical malpractice lawsuits. The bill requires that government measure the quality of care provided by doctors and rate performance on a scale of zero to 100. Under this bill, the quality of care standards used by federal health programs such as Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act cannot be used in a medical malpractice case.

The language of this provision is nearly identical to the language recommended by doctors and insurance companies. They believe that the federal standards and guidelines are not reflective of the standard of care and should not be used in order to show negligence by a doctor or a hospital.

It is becoming increasingly common for Medicare, Medicaid, and private insurers to require doctors to report data so that quality of care can be assessed. Then their performance is evaluated and pay is based on that. And government scrutiny of doctors is expected to increase.

Doctors have become concerned about the increase in the number of quality metrics, some of which have been mandated by the Affordable Care Act. These metrics could pose unintended legal risks to health care providers. Additionally, there is the concern that patients and their lawyers will be able to use the date in court to show negligence of health care providers.

Some question why you wouldn’t want to take the guidelines into account. The guidelines indicate what a reasonable doctor does and what they should do. Additionally, not using the guidelines would make it difficult for a nursing home resident to establish negligence because they would be unable to show that the home violated the federal health and safety standards. By being able to cite violation of these standards in court, it helps the victim demonstrate that the institution failed to meet its duty of care.

Those in favor of the bill, however, believe that the standard of care should be established through the use of expert testimony, rather than federal guidelines. They believe that what the doctors thinks is best for their patient may not be the same as what the government things is right for other patients with that same condition. This small provision in a very large bill could have a significant impact on medical malpractice cases.

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 jfisher@fishermalpracticelaw.com. 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.