Call to Action: Ask Your State Senator to Support Tort Reform Bill Allowing Physician Apologies

When an unforeseen health care outcome occurs, patients have questions and physicians want to provide answers. Unfortunately, the fact that such a conversation can be used by personal injury lawyers in a medical liability lawsuit often stops open dialogue before it can even start. 

A much needed tort reform bill to allow physician apologies may soon be considered by the full Senate after passing the Senate Banking and Insurance Committee on Feb. 5, 2013.

The Pennsylvania Medical Society is encouraging all physicians to contact their state senator and ask them to request the Senate’s prompt consideration of Senate Bill 379 and to vote yes when it comes up for a vote in their chamber.

SB 379, sponsored by Sen. Pat Vance (R-Cumberland County), would require liability insurers to encourage benevolent gestures by insured health care providers. It would allow physicians and patients to have a full and open conversation after an unforeseen outcome by prohibiting that conversation from being used by plaintiffs in a medical liability lawsuit.

It  does not take any legal right away from injured patients or impair their ability to file a personal injury action against a health care provider should they choose to do so. It also does not limit the amount that a patient can recover in such an action. It simply helps providers and patients have an open discussion after a poor outcome.

The proposed legislation also would also extend the life of the Children’s Health Insurance Program (CHIP), which is set to expire at the end of 2013, until the end of 2018.

The physician apology bill has been an example of strong physician grassroots advocacy in the past, and we’re asking for your continued support. Last year alone, 319 people sent nearly 800 messages to their legislators asking for their support of such legislation.

Please let your state senator know how important it is to pass physician apology legislation. Urge them to request the Senate’s prompt consideration of SB 379 and to vote yes when it comes up for a vote in their chamber.

Read more in our Weekly Capitol Update blog, written by Scot Chadwick, vice president of governmental affairs at PAMED.

Last Updated: 3/20/2013

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