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Bill to ensure privacy of doctors in medical malpractice defense

The majority of medical care providers endure years of institutional learning and residency programs before they practice medicine. Even then, they may still turn to their colleagues for input when they encounter an issue. Now, one state is attempting to protect one aspect of that input in the case of medical malpractice defense situations. While this bill does not impact residents in New York, it may provide insight into how lawmakers may be able to assist medical professionals

The majority of states have provisions that protect the confidential peer review reports that hospitals encourage for improvements in patient care. However, a top court in one state ruled in 1998 that the peer review reports should be subject to evidence rules in the matter of malpractice allegations. However, a bill was recently introduced that would restore that privacy for peer reports.

The senator who sponsored the measure stated that the bill only extends to the findings that pertain to those meetings. Any other alleged evidence would still be subject to the rules regarding civil lawsuits. Doctors use these opportunities to review problematic or unusual circumstances in order to resolve issues going forward.

There are opponents to this bill, as they believe it will restrict a patient’s right to gather supposed evidence. However, patients will still have the right to other medical documents as well as testimony from care providers. New York medical professionals who find themselves facing a civil suit, alleging that they caused harm to a patient, do have the right to consult with an attorney who specializes in medical malpractice defense in order to assemble a coherent and thorough counter-argument against such a claim.

Source: kentucky.com, “Malpractice plaintiffs would lose access to some evidence under Senate bill”, John Cheves, Feb. 8, 2017

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