Senate Bill 129 spurs debate between ER doctors and their patients

Published: Nov. 17, 2011 at 3:21 AM EST|Updated: Nov. 17, 2011 at 3:38 AM EST
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

BUTLER COUNTY, OH (FOX19) - An Ohio Senate bill that's currently sitting in committee is stirring up a heated debate between ER doctors and the attorneys who represent their patients.

If passed, Ohio Senate bill 129 would protect doctors, doctors' assistants, dentists, optometrists and nurses from lawsuits from mistakes, as long as those people are providing emergency care in compliance with the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act, or acting as a result of a disaster, and are not engaged in willful misconduct.

"What the bill attempts to do is give immunity to doctors who are doing bad things," said medical malpractice attorney Donald Moore of The Moore Law Firm.

Moore says Senate Bill 129 would greatly diminish the quality of medical of care that his clients and other Ohioans receive at local hospitals.

"We're not going to raise the standard of medical care that people in Ohio get by reducing the responsibilities of the doctors who deliver that care," Moore said.

Moore has testified several times against the bill in Columbus, and says doctors already win over 90 percent of the time in medical malpractice cases, and it could actually end up costing taxpayers for the medical mistakes of doctors. 

"Those who are seriously injured by medical mistakes in emergency rooms, those people are going to wind up relying on Medicaid, Medicare and Social Security, so basically it's going to cost all the taxpayers," Moore said.

On the flip side Dr. Gary Katz of the American College of Emergency Physicians says the bill would enhance access to emergency care by putting more workers on call.

"By increasing the access to on-call specialists that ER physicians have -- any time you can increase the resources available to a physician, you can increase the rate at which you treat patients," Katz said.

Katz says emergency medicine is the fourth most frequently sued specialty in Ohio, and the nature of the ER is unique to other practices, and should therefore be held to a different standard.

"We have to be prepared to see people who we've never met before, who we don't have a long-term relationship with, and who present to us in their greatest time of need," Katz said.

Katz also said that liability still exists for doctors under the standard of reckless disregard as opposed to just negligence.

Copyright 2011 FOX19. All Rights Reserved.