Ky. Lawmakers Ponder Lawsuit Limits
State Senator Ralph Alvarado, R-Winchester, wants medical negligence victims to bring their claims before an industry-dominated review board before they can bring them to court.
His Senate Bill 4 is very much like previous measures which have enjoyed broad support in the GOP-controlled Senate but failed to win over House Democrats. Now, with Republican majorities in both houses, the medical negligence lawsuit limits may become a reality, especially since a Senate panel quickly and overwhelmingly approved Senate Bill 4. Sen. Alvarado, who is also a doctor, spoke up for the proposal during committee hearings, claiming that the number of lawsuits is driving up medical care costs. Doctors “order tests they never would have before just to cover themselves, and the cost of medical care is going up as a result,” he added. If the bill passes, a panel of three medical providers and one non-voting medical negligence lawyer must determine that a claim is meritorious before the victim can obtain damages in court.
A number of Democrats, including Lexington Sen. Reginald Thomas, vehemently oppose Senate Bill 4. “[E]very citizen in this commonwealth should have access to the courthouse door,” he insisted.
Why Medical Negligence Lawsuits Matter
An effective tort system is one of the best ways to both control medical costs and force doctors who are more interested in making money to focus on patient care.
During his hearing testimony, Sen. Alvarado mentioned defensive medicine. This practice is especially common among OBGYNs and other high-risk specialists, as according to some estimates, over 90 percent of these doctors routinely order unnecessary tests, over-prescribe antibiotics, and take other measures designed not to help the patient get better, but to cut off future medical negligence lawsuits. Anecdotal evidence abounds concerning doctors who are sued for medical negligence, and even though they are not held liable, their insurance premiums go up. In the coming months, many lawmakers will probably argue, based on this “evidence,” that the system is slanted against physicians. But in these situations, lawsuits are not the problem, because the legal system performed as it should have. Instead, the insurance company used the lawsuit as an excuse to hike premium payments, which increases costs for everyone.
At best, an industry review board is simply a repetitive bulwark, since during the legal process, insurance companies already have several opportunities to convince judges that meritless cases should be “thrown out of court.” So, another layer of bureaucracy only serves to drive up costs and create needless delays.
For prompt assistance with a medical negligence or other action, contact an experienced personal injury attorney in Bowling Green today, because the sooner Gary Logsdon gets started on your case, the better your claim for damages will be.