Profession

Oklahoma physicians push for liability protections

NEWS IN BRIEF — Posted April 27, 2009

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A bill moving through the Oklahoma Legislature would resolve a pair of state Supreme Court rulings invalidating recent medical liability reforms and help protect access to care, Oklahoma State Medical Assn. officials said.

The tort reform legislation, approved by the House in late March, would cap noneconomic damages in various types of civil liability cases, including medical negligence suits, at $300,000. Among other provisions, the bill also would require an expert opinion or certificate of merit when a liability case is filed.

In 2008, Oklahoma Supreme Court justices rejected a $300,000 noneconomic damage cap that had applied in cases involving emergency or obstetrical care as an unconstitutional special law. The high court reached the same conclusion in 2006 when it struck down an affidavit requirement in medical liability cases.

Doctors expect the new bill to pass constitutional muster because it encompasses a broad range of liability cases, not just medical negligence suits. State medical association officials also hope the measure will keep physicians from fleeing to Texas, where in 2003 state voters approved a constitutional amendment capping noneconomic damages at $250,000 in medical liability cases.

Note: This item originally appeared at http://www.ama-assn.org/amednews/2009/04/27/prbf0427.htm.

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