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Ohio Senate bill pits emergency doctors against lawyers: Part 1

A bill currently in committee in the Ohio Senate has sparked a showdown between providers of emergency medical care and lawyers representing patients who were injured by medical mistakes made during the emergency care they received.

Senate Bill 129 intends to offer protection to doctors, dentists, nurses and other applicable medical personnel from lawsuits that stem from mistakes they make while they provide emergency medical care, most notably in emergency room settings. The protection is triggered if those who provide emergency medical care act within three parameters:

  • They act within the standards of the Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, the Federal Act that requires hospitals to provide emergency treatment regardless of a whether a patient is able to pay
  • They do not act with willful misconduct
  • They provide emergency medical care in a disaster situation

Proponents of the bill state that because the injury treatment setting of the emergency room is so unique to the practice of medicine, where doctors often quickly treat patients they know little about in high-stress emergency situations, doctors should answer to a different, lower standard of care. Doctor liability for the standard of reckless disregard would still apply under the bill.

The next post will further discuss the debate over this proposed legislation.

Source: FOX 19, "Senate Bill 129 spurs debate between ER doctors and their patients," Nov. 16, 2011

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