Medical Liability/Tort Reform
During the late 1990’s and through the early 2000’s physicians practicing in Northern Ohio had to deal with a severe medical liability crisis. Medical malpractice premiums were increasing at an alarming rate, and members of the AMCNO were leaving their practice or reducing their services. The AMCNO responded to this crisis proactively and worked hard to assure the passage of meaningful tort reform laws in the state of Ohio. The Academy of Medicine of Cleveland & Northern Ohio mobilized a strong grassroots effort that resulted in the passage of tort reform legislation in Ohio. Several key pieces of legislation passed in in Ohio due to the efforts of your AMCNO. These legislative initiatives included:
- Limits on Non-Economic Damages in Medical Liability Suits-not to exceed $350,000 in most cases
- Joint and Several Liability Reform-holds defendants liable for only their percentage of fault
- Periodic Payments-requests can be made to pay out future damages to the plaintiff in some cases
- Statute of Repose-limits the time frame in which any liability claim can be filed to four years from the last date of treatment
- Statute of Limitations-limits the time frame once an injury is discovered in which a liability claim can be filed to one year after the discovery
- Evidence of Collateral Source Payments-allows juries to consider other sources of compensation already received by plaintiff
- Affidavit of Merit-signed by an expert witness in the same specialty as the defendant that attests to the merit of any liability lawsuit
- State Medical Board jurisdiction-over out-of-state physician expert witnesses, which gives the board the ability to discipline any physician that provides false or completely baseless medical testimony;
- “I’m Sorry” Law-enables physicians to express apology, sympathy or condolence regarding an unanticipated patient outcome, and protects such expressions or statements from being used as an admission of liability in a subsequent lawsuit;
- Prohibition of Insurance Company-prohibits an insurer to take any notice of intent into consideration when setting new rates for an insured physician
- Strengthened Ohio Arbitration Law-AMCNO has prepared a model arbitration agreement for members, in which many physician members from AMCNO took the time out of their practice to testify before both the House and Senate committee hearings on the importance of tort reform. The AMCNO believed it very important that physicians take the lead on this issue and provide their input and testimony. In addition to our lobbying efforts, the AMCNO was the first association in the state to contact the media regarding the medical liability crisis and the only association to prepare a broad-based media campaign. The AMCNO produced and distributed thousands of brochures to patients and physician offices; met with the media; produced two television ads; radio programs; wrote letters to the editor; planned and participated in a press conference with the governor in Cleveland and presented at three physician rallies in Cleveland, Lorain and Columbus.
Following the enactment of the AMCNO-backed tort reforms, the medical liability marketplace has begun to stabilize and medical liability insurance premiums have decreased and self-insured captives have formed. Ohio now has more than 15 companies writing medical liability coverage for physicians. However, based upon data collected by the Ohio Department of Insurance (ODI), although medical liability claims filed are down, Northern Ohio is still experiencing the highest number of cases in the state. To view the most recent ODI closed claim report click here.
The AMCNO is concerned that medical liability insurance and case filings continue to be an issue for our members in Northern Ohio. That is the main reason that the AMCNO continues to explore other avenues such as alternative dispute resolution to handle medical malpractice claims. The AMCNO Medical Legal Liaison committee is diligent in their efforts on behalf of our members to review court cases and assure that the AMCNO is monitoring for potential cases that could alter the tort reform laws in Ohio. For more information about the AMCNO efforts regarding alternative dispute resolution and medical liability reform, please contact the AMCNO offices at 216.520.1000 ext.100 or email firstname.lastname@example.org