It’s no secret that medical malpractice suits are big money for attorneys, and an equally big risk for doctors and hospitals, but what about medical mistakes that are rooted in simple human error? What about those mistakes that could be used to teach doctors better medicine? Do those really require the same intensity of legal pursuit?
In Oregon, they may not.
Early in March, the Oregon state Senate passed a bill that would create a mediation process for patients who are injured by medical mistakes.
In a vote of 26-for to 3-against, the bill passed the Senate, though some members of the legislature criticized it, saying it should have included language limiting the amount of money that juries would be allowed to award to patients who were subject to injuries caused by medical errors.
Specifically, the new legislation would give injured patients a means to have confidential discussions about the medical mistakes that affected them, as well as about any possible settlements from the medical facility where the mistake occurred.
Supporters of the measure believe that it’s enactment would help reduce the culture of defense that keeps doctors from actually discussing their errors, and even learning from them, because they’re afraid of possible litigation.
The above-referenced issue with settlement limits, however, is not the only criticism the legislation is facing. Opponents of the measure are concerned that passing it will have no effect on the cost of medical liability insurance.
Nevertheless, the supporters of the measure include both doctors’ organization and Oregon trial attorneys.
The Medical Mistakes Measure was sent to the Oregon House of Representative for further discussion, and a House vote. If that chamber approves of the legislation, it will be passed to the Governor for signature or veto.
Critics say the measure won’t do anything to reduce premiums for medical liability insurance.
The measure goes next to the House. It’s supported by both trial lawyers and doctors groups.