If you or a loved one has been a medical malpractice victim who lives in Georgia, the door to receiving fair and just compensation may be closing. That is because the Georgia state senate is considering a bill that would prevent victims from having fair and open access to the civil justice system.
If passed, Georgia Senate Bill 141, entitled the “Patient Injury Act,” medical malpractice victims would be required to submit their claims to an “independent” medical review panel, rather than filing a civil lawsuit. If the medical review panel determines a patient suffered “avoidable harm” due to a healthcare provider’s actions, a compensation board would assess and award the patient monetary damages. If, on the other hand, a medical review panel concludes that a patient did not suffer “avoidable harm,” the patient’s only recourse is to have an administrative law judge hear his or her appeal. In essence, Georgia is attempting to swap the traditional civil justice system for a workers’ compensation-type system. Florida attempted to institute a similar system, but it was later scrapped because it was a complete failure.
Supporters of Georgia’s Patient Injury Act claim the bill, if passed, will stop physicians and other healthcare providers from practicing “defensive medicine,” and ultimately reduce healthcare costs. The supporters, however, fail to explain how the Patient Injury Act will meet those goals. What’s more, the Patient Injury Act slams the door to the civil justice system, by taking victims’ claims out of a jury’s hands. Instead, bureaucrats will decide who has been wronged, and how much each person’s claim is worth. (In fact, many believe if enacted, S.B. 141 will ultimately be deemed unconstitutional, as it strip victims of many of their rights.)
If you live in Georgia, I encourage you to call your state senators and legislators to voice your opposition to the Patient Injury Act.
Read the entire text of S.B. 141 here: http://www.legis.ga.gov/legislation/en-US/display/20132014/SB/141.
Read a Georgia medical malpractice attorney’s recent op-ed letter regarding S.B. 141’s dangers: http://chronicle.augusta.com/opinion/letters/2013-12-16/bill-trims-rights-not-costs