Radical bills protect worst doctors

 

“Assault on Patient Safety” talking points.

Re:  SB 1110, SB 1115, SB 1116, SB 1117 and SB 1118

This package of bills will further endanger patients in Michigan, amidst an already grave crisis in patient safety.

These bills and others in the package would protect drunk, drugged or incompetent doctors from the consequences of their actions, endangering patients and shifting the costs of medical errors to victims, their families, taxpayers and hospitals.

  1. A Crisis in Patient Safety.

Did you know?

  • Last year, an estimated 66,000 Michigan families were physical harmed by medical errors,
  • Over 6,000 patients in Michigan were killed by preventable medical errors.  These numbers have more than doubled in the past 20 years [i].  
  • One in three hospital patients are affected by medical errors and over half of doctors admit to not reporting serious medical errors[ii]
  • As many as 86% of serious medical errors that cause harm to patients are never reported at all. 
  • This patient safety crisis costs Michigan an estimated $12,000,000,000 to $28,000,000,000 each year [That is $12 to $28 Billion] [iii]
  • According to one estimate, for every dollar that is spent in our health care system, between 18 and 45 cents are spent to harm someone[iv]
  • 92% of the public thinks that reporting such medical errors should be mandatory, yet the only record of such incidents [the National Practitioners Data Bank] is not open to the public and the American Medical Association produces a guide for doctors on how to avoid having their errors recorded[v] and [vi].
  • Clearly, medical errors are out of control and patient safety is in crisis.
  • Michigan families deserve the safest medical care we can provide. This package of bills does the opposite, it makes health care more irresponsible, costly and dangerous[vii]

Michigan hospitals and health centers are national leaders in patient safety reforms, working with other hospitals across the nation to minimize hospital acquired conditions. The University of Michigan is a role model for patient safety and the reporting of medical errors[viii].

Sadly, this package of bills would undermine all of those patient safety efforts.

  1. There is no ‘shortage of doctors” in Michigan

Senator Kahn and others claim in PR statements that he is acting to avert a “doctor shortage” that does not exist, loosely citing a flawed eight year old study that assumes among other errors that Michigan has a million more people than we actually have.  And these anti-patient-safety apologists. never explain how protecting the 6% of doctors who cause 62% of medical errors will solve this nonexistent problem.  Limiting patient safety does nothing to keep doctors.

Michigan has one of the highest per-capita numbers of doctors in the nation, and the numbers of doctors in the state has increased each year.

 

The Bills

 

Senate Bill 1115. Clarifies noneconomic loss to include loss of household or other services, loss of society and companionship, and loss of consortium. Amends the gross present cash value to be the total amount of future damages reduced to present value at a rate of 5 percent per year, compounded annually for each year the damages will accrue. Specifies that after a verdict is rendered in favor of a plaintiff, the order of judgment will be entered against each defendant in the following order: all past economic damages, less collateral source payments; all past non-economic damages; all future economic damages, less medical and health care costs; all future and other health care costs, less collateral source payments; all future non-economic damages reduced to gross present cash value; all taxable and allowable costs; if the plaintiff was assigned a percentage of fault, the total judgment amount will be reduced by the percentage of the plaintiff’s fault; the total judgment will be reduced by the amount of all settlements paid by all joint tortfeasors.

 Senate Bill 1116. A defendant would not be liable in “an action alleging medical malpractice if the person’s conduct at issue constituted the exercise of professional judgment. … A person exercises professional judgment if the person acts with a reasonable and good-faith belief that the person’s conduct is both well founded in medicine and in the best interests of the patient.” Further, “If the court determines … that the [defendant] … did not meet the burden of proving that the act or omission was an exercise of professional judgment, the question of whether the person failed to provide the recognized standard of acceptable professional practice or care is a question for the trier of fact to decide. The ruling of the court … is inadmissible as evidence at trial, and the court shall not permit the parties’ counsel to argue any provision of this subsection to a jury.”

 Senate Bill 1117. Clarifies that only licensed health professionals can offer expert testimony on the appropriate standard of care unless certain conditions apply.

 Senate Bill 1118. Amends the statute of limitations if the patient dies.

 


[i]  “Social Cost of Adverse Medical Events” http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/4/590.abstract  “Michigan Hospitals Efforts to Cut Patient Injuries Are Paying Off” March 6, 2012, based on numbers from the US Dept. of Health and Human Services and the MHA Keystone center. http://legalnews.findlaw.com/article/03BOdOtbiY0XB

[ii] “Medical Errors Occur 10 Times More Than Previously Thought; Study finds mistakes affect 1 in 3 hospital patients” –AARP Bulletin, April 2011 http://www.aarp.org/health/doctors-hospitals/info-04-2011/medical-errors.html[iii] “Social Cost of Adverse Medical Events” http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/4/590.abstract  

[iv] The Social Cost of Adverse Medical Events and What we can do about it.   http://content.healthaffairs.org/content/30/4/590.abstract

[v] --National Survey on Consumer Experience with Patient Safety and Quality Information, Kaiser Family Foundation.

http://www.kff.org/kaiserpolls/posr101508pkg.cfm

[vi]  “Evading tricks include neglecting to sanction bad doctors, and playing games with sanctions to shorten suspensions by a single day to miss the NPDB cutoff. “ AMA Webpage on NPDB  http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2001/06/18/prsb0618.htm