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Tim Skubick: Doctors like proposed medical malpractice reforms, but what about their patients?

You are having major surgery and it doesn't go well.  Your doctor contends even though mistakes were made, at the time he or she thought they were doing the right thing

Question:  Can you sue that doctor?

Answer:  Currently yes.  But if new legislation is passed, make it a no.

A senate committee took up this controversial medical malpractice insurance pitting natural enemies in this debate, the docs vs. the trial lawyers and vice versa.

One of the key provisions of the proposed re-write of the 1994 law is the so-called "belief" provision outlined above.  If the doc thought he or she was doing the right thing, you can not sue.

Trial attorney Norm Tucker argues if you applied that to other professions bad things would happen.

"The airline pilot said he thought he had enough gas but he crashed the plane five miles out," he draws an analogy.  "We judge conduct not on beliefs. That's the way we are all judged."

Not so fast counters Dr. Rose Ramirez of Grand Rapids.  She asserts that the lawyers have that right and the doctors want that, too.

She contends the legislation is needed to reduce "non-meritorious" litigation which is "clogging-up the courts."  The trial bar contends if this stuff passes, nobody will be able to sue any doctor.

Interestingly, it is the senate insurance committee that is considering the bill and not the health panel.

Reportedly the chair of the health committee wanted to head in a different direction - one that Sen. Roger Kahn (R-Saginaw) did not like.

Oh yeah, he's a doctor.  So his malpractice revisions were sent to a more favorable panel where the docs and barristers are slugging it out.

Your ability to sue hangs in the balance.


Thursday, July 19, 2012,  by Tim Skubick

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