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House Provision Gives More Protection Against Medical Malpractice

A provision in a House of Representatives bill that currently has large bipartisan support would give more support and protections to doctors facing medical malpractice claims. The bill requires the government to measure the quality of care that doctors provide on a scale of zero to 100. It protects doctors and other medical professionals by stipulating within the bill that the quality of care measurements, used by federal health programs like Medicare, Medicaid, and the Affordable Care Act, cannot be used by individual patients in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Government Scrutiny of Doctors

Doctors and other medical professionals have argued that federal standards and other guidelines do not reflect the actual quality of care being provided to their patients. However, government scrutiny of the medical profession is only expected to increase. Federal agencies and insurance companies routinely require doctors to submit information regarding the quality of care, evaluate policies, and pay them based on their performance.

In an effort to balance the needs of government scrutiny with the exposure of the doctors, the House of Representatives submitted the provision in the law that was nearly identical to the language recommended by medical professionals’ lobbying groups. This comes after the Secretary of Health and Human Services announced that she wants to see “virtually all Medicare fee-for-service payments to be tied to quality and value” within the next three years.

Legal Exposure for Doctors

One of the main concerns of doctors is that the increase in quality metrics for their care, especially those mandated by the Affordable Care Act, increases the legal liability for health care providers. Furthermore, they are concerned that medical malpractice clients and their lawyers will be able to use the quality of care metrics in court to prove negligence. The president of the Physicians Insurers Association of America has said that the bill in the House would eliminate the uncertainty about the use of such metrics in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

Pushback From Legal Professionals

Lawyers and victims of medical malpractice claims argue that the opposite should be the case. One law professor asked ““Why wouldn’t you want to take these guidelines into consideration? They indicate what a reasonable doctor does and should do, just like guidelines adopted by a medical specialty society.”

Other consumer advocates and medical malpractice lawyers have also voiced concerns over the provision in the House bill. Some see this this provision as having the potential to bleed into nursing home abuse and neglect cases because it will make it more difficult for nursing home residents to prove that the facility violated federal health and safety standards. However, others backing the bill claim that these violations should be established by expert witnesses and not quality metrics.

Contact a Florida Lawyer Today

If you or someone that you know has been injured in a medical malpractice case in Orlando, Tampa, Fort Myers, Jacksonville, or West Palm Beach, let the experienced medical malpractice lawyers at The Pendas Law Firm help. Call the office or contact us today for a free and confidential review of your claims.

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