Medical malpractice cases present challenges for patients because it can be hard to establish the standard of care that a doctor owes. Most juries don’t know what a reasonably professional doctor does in a specific situation, and there can be disagreements among testifying expert witnesses about whether a doctor’s actions were appropriate or not. The complexity of proving a doctor should be held responsible for damages is one reason it is so important to have an experienced Charleston medical malpractice lawyer representing you.
Patients with potential malpractice claims could perhaps have had an easier time in the future because the government has been increasing its oversight role into determining whether doctors are actually doing right by their patients. For example, quality metrics have been put in place, some as a result of the Affordable Care Act, in order to more carefully measure quality of care. Concerned that these quality metrics could be used by patients, however, doctors and insurers have lobbied the government to pass a bill prohibiting the use of the metrics in malpractice claims.
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According to the New York Times, Medicare has increasingly been tying doctor payments to quality and value metrics and the secretary of Health and Human Services suggests that this trend will continue. A bill passed by the House of Representatives with overwhelming bipartisan support would also require that the government provide doctors with a quality of care rating on a scale of zero to 100.
In a county where an estimated 200,000 people die each year because of preventable medical mistakes, tying doctor payment to quality of care could definitely be a step in the right direction. Unfortunately, however, a provision of the bill would prohibit the use of quality-of-care standards in medical malpractice cases.
Doctors and insurance companies have lobbied to prevent quality-of-care metrics from being used in malpractice cases because these guidelines and standards “do not accurately reflect the standard of care and should not be used to show negligence by a doctor or a hospital.”
Of course, it is difficult to make the argument that quality-of-care standards do not accurately reflect the standard of care. An expert on insurance law at the University of Pennsylvania expressed skepticism at preventing the use of these guidelines in malpractice cases, suggesting that it makes no sense not to consider the quality guidelines. The AARP also described the new proposed restriction as troubling because it will make it harder for plaintiffs to use government health and safety standards to show that a doctor or nursing home was negligent.
Laws that are designed to protect patients should make it easier, not harder, for people to take legal action when they receive substandard care. The Christmas Law Firm fights vigorously for the rights of malpractice patients to receive monetary compensation for losses, and our attorneys know that patients need effective solutions to help fight against medical negligence. Taking a step forward with quality control guidelines should not mean taking a step back by making it harder for injured victims to sue.