Barr and Barrasso Introduce Liability Protection Legislation
Representative Andy Barr (R-KY) and Senator John Barrasso (R-WY) last month introduced the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act (H.R. 2603/S. 1475), which would allow physicians who can demonstrate they followed recommended best practices developed by the physician community to benefit from increased liability protection in the form of a legal safe harbor. In a press release, the legislators emphasized that this legislation has the potential to help lower health care costs while improving the quality of care for patients by reducing the necessary practice of defensive medicine and increasing adherence to evidence-based medicine. Senator Shelley Moore Capito (R-WV) and Congressman Phil Roe (R-TN) are original co-sponsors of the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act.
“Frivolous medical malpractice lawsuits are forcing physicians to practice defensive medicine which drives up the cost of health care without improving outcomes for patients,” said Congressman Barr. “The liability climate is forcing many quality physicians out of the practice of medicine altogether, exacerbating an already chronic shortage of doctors which threatens access to health care in this country. By affording doctors who adhere to evidence-based best practice guidelines a legal safe harbor, the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act will improve outcomes for patients, reduce health care costs and keep more good doctors in practice.”
AAOS sent a letter June 9 expressing support for the legislation and stating that the bill takes important steps to address our nation’s broken liability system by stressing the importance of the practice of evidence-based health care while improving patient safety. David Teuscher, MD, President of AAOS wrote that the bill will allow physicians to practice medicine with less fear of frivolous lawsuits.
“The Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act will allow physicians who have demonstrated use of appropriate eligible clinical practice guidelines in the course of treatment to have safe harbor from a lawsuit, should the patient sustain injury from such treatment,” wrote Dr. Teuscher. “This will help to ensure that patients who require the services of an orthopaedic surgeon can receive the vital care they need in a safe and accessible environment. AAOS supports progress in medical liability reform that improves patient safety and reduces the cost of health care. While there is still a lot to do, this bill takes positive steps towards reducing frivolous lawsuits and insurance fraud, which is important to ensure physicians can continue to provide the highest quality patient care.”
As noted in the congressional press release, more than 75 percent of physicians face a malpractice claim over the course of their career. This liability climate drives up the cost of care that physicians provide, encourages overutilization and adds an estimated $70 to $126 billion in health costs each year without improving outcomes.
Read the full press release here.