Proposed Bill May Create New Standard in Liability

June 5, 2017
OROS Risk Solutions, LLC
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Health Care Reform and Malpractice Insurance for Florida

Growing expenses of Florida medical malpractice and the costs of doctors providing unnecessary treatment in order to avoid liability has long been the main subject of healthcare and tort reform. Patients are struggling to pay for additional diagnostics and medical treatment while physicians are expending valuable time and resources in an effort to protect themselves.  US Rep. Phil Roe recently introduced legislation that includes a specific focus on the growing concerns regarding medical malpractice insurance in Florida and other states in a potential Republican replacement to the Affordable Care Act.

The American Health Care Reform Act of 2017 will include among other reforms independent medical review panels to review lawsuits. The rising costs of defensive medicine in an effort to avoid equally exorbitant lawsuits have been a long time strain on doctors and patients alike. Republicans seek to end the excessive nature of liability risks while still protecting the well-being of those seeking treatment.

Title V – Reforming Medical Liability Law

Title V of the newly proposed bill specifically addresses the intended changes for medical liability, including Florida medical malpractice insurance. The bill begins with the selection of clinical practice guidelines, published by “eligible professional organizations” in the medical community and to be accepted and reviewed every 5 years by the Secretary of Health and Human Services. The Duty of the Secretary will be to ensure the following guidelines:

  • That a transparent process will exist to minimize conflicts of interests
  • That a panel of reliable experts from multiple fields will be involved
  • That important patient groups will be considered
  • That the review of evidence remains systematic
  • That health care options and outcomes are clearly expressed
  • That evidence and recommendations will be adeptly rated
  • That clinical practice guideline will be adjusted to reflect new evidence
  • That exception to the guidelines will be clearly expressed.

The bill goes on to state that any professional who follows and maintains the established guidelines will not be held liable for any malpractice injury. Furthermore, a health care provider who has acted within the guidelines may see the case moved from a State court to a US District Court. The added protection is intended to secure a standardized level of care and responsibility for patients as well as a guard against lawsuits to keep medical malpractice insurance in Florida and other states effective and affordable.   

Independent Medical Review Panel

An independent medical review panel will review cases individually to decide if clinical practice guidelines have been met. Each member must be certified by a board recognized by the American Board of Medical Specialties, be in active medical practice or engaged in university research, and be approved by the specialty society of that field. The panel will review evidence to ascertain if an eligible professional violated guidelines and if those guidelines resulted in injuries towards a claimant. Only then will liability be pursued.