The Ohio Senate is currently considering a bill, which would severely hamper medical malpractice victims’ ability to recover against negligent emergency medicine physicians and other healthcare providers.
If passed, Ohio SB 129 would shield doctors, physician extenders (such as physicians’ assistants and nurse practitioners), dentists, optometrists, and nurses from liability, so long as they are providing care for an “emergency medical condition” as defined by the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (“EMTALA”), or acting as a result of a disaster, and are not engaged in willful misconduct.
EMTALA, 42 U.S.C. § 1395dd, defines an “emergency medical condition” as:
(A) a medical condition manifesting itself by acute symptoms of sufficient severity (including severe pain) such that the absence of immediate medical attention could reasonably be expected to result in—
(i) placing the health of the individual (or, with respect to a pregnant woman, the health of the woman or her unborn child) in serious jeopardy,
(ii) serious impairment to bodily functions, or
(iii) serious dysfunction of any bodily organ or part; or
(B) with respect to a pregnant woman who is having contractions—
(i) that there is inadequate time to effect a safe transfer to another hospital before delivery, or
(ii) that transfer may pose a threat to the health or safety of the woman or the unborn child.
Civil justice advocates believe that Ohio SB 129 would actually hamper patient safety, because it would virtually all shield emergency medical providers from liability, and leave medical malpractice victims without any recourse against negligent providers. A recent report quoted Cincinnati medical malpractice attorney, Donald Moore, as saying, “We’re not going to raise the standard of medical care that people in Ohio get by reducing the responsibilities of the doctors who deliver that care.” Mr. Moore, who has also testified against SB 128 in the Ohio Legislature, believes that unnecessarily shielding emergency medical providers from liability will actually cost taxpayers money, because medical malpractice victims “are going to wind up relying on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security.”
Unsurprisingly, Ohio SB 129’s proponents claim that the legislation is not as draconian as its opponents are claiming. That is because victims may still recover if they can prove that an emergency medical provider’s actions were reckless or willful.
It is an unfortunate reality that anti-justice advocates believe that limiting peoples’ access to courts is the best way to improve our nation’s healthcare system. The proof, however, has dispelled this myth. As an attorney who has practiced medical malpractice law for almost ten years, I know firsthand that, in all but a few scenarios, it is virtually impossible to prove that a physician or other healthcare provider acted recklessly, or willfully intended to harm a patient. For that reason, I believe that the Ohio legislature should reject SB 129, and not needlessly restrict access to our civil justice system.
Read more here: http://www.fox19.com/story/16060671/senate-bill-129-spurs-debate-between-er-doctors-and-thier-patients