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New bill may change evidence in medical malpractice lawsuits

Doctors, surgeons, nurses and other medical professionals are heavily relied. When California residents suffer an injury or are ill, medical professionals are trusted to help diagnose and treat them. While these professionals often successfully treat patients, this is unfortunately not the case. A negligent doctor could easily result in serious medical issues such as injuries, illnesses and even death. A medical professional could be held accountable for the harm they cause a patient.

A new bill with a medical malpractice provision recently passed the House of Representatives and is expected to pass the Senate and be signed into law by the President. The new bill, which some are calling the 'doc fix' bill due to its provisions giving physicians pay increases and preventing a reduction in physician Medicare reimbursement, could also play an important role for future medical malpractice lawsuits.

If the bill passes, it would prevent the quality of care standards that are currently used in federal health programs, such as Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act, from being used in malpractice suits. California residents may be aware that quality of care standards reflect the government's evaluation of the care that doctors provide on a scale of zero to 100.

Those in favor of the bill contend that expert testimony should establish the standard of care owed to a patient in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These proponents argue that the standards used by the federal government are not an accurate reflection of the standard of care.

Those opposed to the bill contend that the standards are an important indication of how a reasonable doctor should act and therefore should be used as a standard in medical malpractice lawsuits. If the standards are not used, some argue, it could potentially be more difficult to establish negligence in some medical malpractice lawsuits.

If this bill passes and if, as the bill's opponents argue, it becomes more difficult to establish negligence in a medical malpractice case, it could become even more essential to have the assistance of an attorney as a person pursues a medical malpractice claim. Doctor error can be a crucial part of establishing negligence in a medical malpractice lawsuit. These anticipated changes of how physicians are evaluated in the context of medical malpractice lawsuits could play an important role in some medical malpractice cases.

Source: healthcaredive.com, "Will the SGR fix impact medical malpractice?" Julie Henry, April 6, 2015

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