Passage of HB7 means physicians can breathe a little easier
Improvements in physicians' medical liability protection result of Legislature's action.
The biennial chaos that is the "Lame Duck" session of the Ohio General Assembly is in full swing. Any bill that does not pass by the end of this session this month will have to be re-introduced and the legislative process starts over in 2019.
The time crunch of these sessions creates lots of challenges to passing good laws. However, sometimes it is this very shortness of time that provides the needed energy to overcome the inertia of the legislative process. “Nothing like a deadline” to bring about some action.
Background: Over a decade ago, Ohio physicians led the charge at the Statehouse to implement massive reforms to Ohio medical liability law. Physicians who are old enough to have been practicing in Ohio at that time will remember annual double digit premium increases, and dwindling number of insurance providers from which to purchase policies. Reforms were passed in 2002, and after a couple of years when the impacts of those reforms were reflected in the marketplace, malpractice premiums plummeted and for the past decade Ohio has had a stable market.
As effective as those reforms were, in recent years there have emerged a series of “tweaks” that physicians have wanted to see be enacted. No major crisis, but clear improvements on items like:
Reducing "shotgun" naming of providers in a lawsuit by requiring new steps that include a mandatory "affidavit of merit" identifying rationale for all defendants that are named by the plaintiff
Clarifying that expressions of sympathy, empathy or apologies for an undesired health outcome cannot be used against a physician in a malpractice suit
After trying for a few years to have these improvements implemented, passage of this bill was finally pushed across the line a few days ago. OSMA has worked with former Ohio Supreme Court member, Representative Bob Cupp, as the sponsor. Support from the Senate Judiciary Chairman, Franklin County's Kevin Bacon, was important to conducting timely hearings over the past few weeks, as the session approached its deadline.
As the Ohio General Assembly winds down its final days of being in session, passage of HB 7 was a nice success.