Lawmakers take aim at medical malpractice

A series of medical malpractice bills are under hot debate in Lansing. Supporters argue the legislation will better protect doctors. Critics claim it offers immunity and closes the door to the courtroom.

"We handled a case not long ago regarding a woman who was a diabetic and went to the Emergency Room. The doctor failed to follow manufacturerâ??s protocol for her medication. She gave the woman two times the amount of the required medicine and didn't monitor her and she died 12 hours later...under this legislation, that doctor, who didn't apparently even read the product insert for the medication that they prescribed, would have absolutely no responsibility to that family," said Traverse City Attorney, Daniel O'Neil.

Senate Bills 1115-1118 are being called the Patients First Reform Package.

Supporters argue their proposal does not stop extreme cases of malpractice from being heard in court.

They said it adds a more reasonable level of protection for doctors and reduces the amount of damages that can be awarded.

Lawmakers said the legislation is also designed to prevent a projected shortfall of doctors in Michigan.

State Senator John Moolenaar, R-36th District, is one of three senators who introduced the bill. His office offered no comment on the Patients First Reform Package.

Attorney Daniel O'Neil tells 7&4 News he does not believe Michigan is at risk of running out of doctors.

"There is not a shortage of doctors here in Michigan. In fact, the number of doctors continues to grow and a study by the state showed Emergency Room doctors, who will benefit most form this legislation, there is expected to be a surplus in the next ten years...there is no compelling reason to do this other than to appeal to the well financed special interest group that is health care," Oâ??Neil said.

The Senate Insurance Committee is expected to hear more testimony on Senate Bills 1115-1118.

No action has been taken at this time.

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