D.C. doctors seek liability reforms

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted June 26, 2006

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The Medical Society of the District of Columbia in June urged local lawmakers to adopt a variety of reforms to fix "the broken liability system in D.C.," said MSDC Chair Peter E. Lavine, MD.

Among the package of 12 reforms are recommendations to limit attorney's fees, require a certificate of merit when plaintiffs file a lawsuit, prohibit physicians' apologies from being used against them as an admission of guilt and limit damage awards against defendants to an amount proportionate to their liability.

In addition to liability reforms, the MSDC also is recommending patient safety measures to help prevent medical errors and that the district study the effects of any enacted reforms two years after implementation.

The series of reforms are part of three separate bills that doctors hope will be passed this fall.

"There seems to be a consensus that a package of reforms to improve the insurance industry, civil justice and patient safety would be an excellent first step," to resolve access to care issues in the district, Dr. Lavine said.

The efforts are aimed at reducing high jury awards and legal costs that have contributed to higher medical liability insurance premiums for local doctors, driving them out of practice, he said.

Note: This item originally appeared at

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