Medical malpractice liability lawsuits have long been cited as one of the reasons for increased health care costs and even have led to tension between patients and doctors. A recent study conducted in 2009 and released now shows that most doctors do not believe they should be fully open with their patients, likely out of discomfort or fear of giving information away that can lead to a malpractice suit. Nearly one third of doctors believe that serious medical mistakes do not need to go reported to patients, bringing up serious concerns with the doctor patient relationship.
Because of the costs associated with malpractice suits and the potentially damaging impacts on the relationships between doctors and physicians, some states are seeking to limit malpractice suits. In Florida, the Republican controlled legislators are seeking to mend the problem with malpractice suits. Representative Matt Gaetz believes that such a law will make Florida more attractive as a place of doing business for doctors. It will also allow costs to lower by not having to call for generally unneeded and expensive tests, but tests that are currently ran to cover doctors legally, while having little or no benefits for the patient.
Some interest groups have criticized the measure as an attack against the privacy of patients, and saying currently medical malpractice lawsuits are at a low point in the state. Florida lawmakers are still concerned however and seek to limit the “excessive” practice.
Part of the proposed legislation also allows doctors to be interviewed in cases of alleged malpractice privately, as to give them a less stressful environment to re-account the incident, free from pressure from the patient or the patient’s lawyer.
Maria Tejedor, a personal injury lawyer in the state has criticized the bill that has already cleared several committees and has a version in the state senate as well. She feels that it will essentially clear doctors from malpractice unless they intentionally sought to harm the patient during a procedure. Always an ethical question, how should one be punished for making a mistake when trying to help someone, the issue has sharply divided groups from the opposite side.
Florida Medical Malpractice
The state already has a history of limited medical malpractice cases. In 2003 a law was passed to limit payouts in certain medical cases. Since being enacted, many are claiming it has seen results, with the number of medical malpractice cases decreasing from 2009 to 2010. The malpractice insurance premiums for doctors have also gone down in the state, though they have risen for nurses and some select specialists.
While concerned about operating room physicians as well, the lawmakers have for now excluded a provision to provide them immunity as well, over the concern that such a measure would cost tax payers $24 million a year.
The need for patients to be able to hold doctors accountable for their health is clear. One’s health and well-being is hard to place a monetary value on. Medical malpractice lawsuits have become part of the industry though and have a large impact on lawyers, patients, states and doctors alike.