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Physician's Shield Act May Be More Than It Appears

Mellino Law Firm

Georgia may be playing with fire when it comes to medical malpractice lawsuits. If a doctor does not live up to federal quality-control measures, that information may not be used against them in a medical negligence suit.

The recently passed law, one of the first of its kind in the nation, bars federal quality-of-care issues from being aired in court when used as a standard of care measure or as a presumption of negligence. If this can happen in Georgia, it could happen in Ohio.

Even though the Medical Association of Georgia indicates the law is merely a cost management tool, there are doubting Thomas reactions across the board. Despite at least twelve provisions in the bill that may still be used to ascertain liability in a lawsuit, many malpractice lawyers seen holes you could drive a truck through in the State Physician Shield Act.

Proponents say the bill only states that if a doctor physically harms someone or does not provide them with enough information to care for them in a proper manner, that there is still a cause of action available. However, if a doctor does not maintain various quality-control measures when it comes to payment issues, that is not classified as medical negligence, because it is not directly linked to patient care.

But is that the case? While the bill does point to liability in medical care, hospital admissions and re-admissions, hospital-acquired infections and so forth, the best the bill’s backers can say is that they do not suspect it will give rise to new causes of action. The bottom line though is that the only arbiter of the validity of a cause of action or claim is the courts.

Part and parcel of the new bill does include the implementation of various guidelines and standards, as yet to be defined in the field. Whenever there is a change in wording, a new bill proposed that may affect medical malpractice patients or a move in the direction to not fault doctors for errors or excuse them for not living up to certain standards, there is the potential for a medical negligence lawsuit. In some ways it is just that simple. In others, the issue is fraught with a myriad of potential complications. Drafting legislation is an inexact science at best and it has the potential to create more harm than help, should the wording be interpreted in a manner other than the intentions behind the law.

This is another wait and see situation where yet another law has been passed to excuse physicians from not living up to certain standards. It’s a dangerous trend now and for the future.

If you’ve suffered a severe and disabling injury, contact our Cleveland office today for a free consultation, or request medical malpractice attorney Chris Mellino’s free guide to filing a claim in Ohio.

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