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Patients First Reform Package: A step backward in patient safety

Disguised by an appealing name, the state of Michigan is proposing legislation called the "Patients First Reform Package."

Those supporting Senate bills 1115-1118 claim they will go far to alleviate a predicted shortage of physicians in the state by protecting doctors from malpractice suits.

However, opponents to the bills say that the sole purpose of these bills is to make suing physicians for egregious acts of medical malpractice much more difficult and will ultimately limit compensatory awards.

Michigan medical malpractice lawsuits limited by Senate bills 1115-1118

If passed, these bills will limit the amount of money victims of medical malpractice can be awarded despite having legitimate claims against health care providers.

According to many med mal attorneys and other experts, there is currently no shortage of emergency room doctors. In fact, the state's own study shows a predicted surplus of emergency doctors over the next ten years. Perhaps the goal of these bills is not to solve a non-existent issue, but to push through medical malpractice reform that favors doctors over patient safety.

Should there be caps on patient safety? Should the right to sue be limited because a few people have filed reckless malpractice suits? There is clear evidence that almost all successful medical malpractice lawsuits are successful because they are legitimate and involve real injuries caused by medical negligence.

While most medical professionals are capable professionals who save countless lives, they are still people - they make mistakes. When an individual is injured or killed by a doctor's negligence, there needs to be some recourse available to that individual or his or her family to recover compensation for the injuries suffered.

Hearings continue on the bills, which have not yet been passed. We can only hope that patient safety will be a topic in those hearings.

Source: Up North Live, "Lawmakers take aim at medical malpractice," Brody O'Connell, May 29, 2012.

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