Ohio Senate bill pits emergency doctors against lawyers: Part 2

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As discussed in the previous post, a bill currently sitting in committee in the Ohio Senate is causing a debate between emergency room doctors and medical malpractice attorneys who represent people injured by medical mistakes.

Proponents emphasize that Senate Bill 12

9 would open the door for more resources and an increased access to emergency medical care because more workers would be able to be on call to treat emergency patients.

On the other side, attorneys argue that the bill’s increased protection for medical mistakes that doctors make in providing emergency medical care will make it nearly impossible for patients who are consequently injured to sue for negligence in emergency care.

Emergency medical care is one of the highest sued medical specialties in Ohio. Currently, the numbers significantly favor doctors in medical malpractice lawsuits, with an over 90 percent success rate for doctors. The bill is considered a further blow to patients looking to receive just compensation for emergency medical care injuries due to doctor mistakes.

According to attorney testimony against the bill, it will grant emergency room doctors too much immunity when they make inexcusable mistakes in the process of providing emergency medical care. As a result, it will undermine the high quality of medical care that Ohio currently has and will significantly reduce doctor responsibility and accountability for preventable medical errors as well. Therefore, some consider the bill a step back in patient safety.

Further, attorneys opposing the bill state that another realistic concern about the bill is that the costs associated with mistakes made by emergency doctors will end up being unfairly incurred by taxpayers. Patients who are unable to sue for compensation for emergency medical care negligence will likely end up on Medicare or Social Security instead.

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

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