AUSTIN, Texas, April 15, 2015 /PRNewswire-USNewswire/ -- Last night the U.S. Senate passed a bill that forbids federal quality-of-care and payment guidelines for Medicare, Medicaid and the Affordable Care Act to be used in medical liability lawsuits. The so-called "doc fix" bill marks the first time Congress has ever passed medical liability protections.
The standard of care language is in a bill that replaces the Medicare payment system for doctors and hospitals with a new payment formula that rewards quality, value and efficiency. Doctors were concerned that these new quality measurements and payment guidelines might be used in a lawsuit to create a presumption of medical negligence.
"This bill eliminates that uncertainty," said Austin internist, Dr. Howard Marcus.
The "doc fix" bill passed the House overwhelmingly last month. It now heads to the president who has expressed his intention to sign it.
"Practice guidelines are one of many sources of valuable information for health care providers. All patients are unique and many patients, especially those with complex health issues, don't necessarily fit a guideline," said Marcus, the chairman of Texas Alliance For Patient Access. "There is often more than one possible answer and that is where clinical judgment is required. Practice guidelines should be just that, a guideline and not a rigid, unaltering edict that creates new opportunities to sue."
Those sentiments are underscored in a 2010 article in the New England Journal of Medicine entitled "Medical Malpractice Liability in the Age of Electronic Health Records." The authors write "Physicians routinely override even relatively simple clinical-decision support protocols .. for clinically appropriate reasons."
The "doc fix" bill does not change current medical liability laws nor does it alter the way courts determine if an act of medical negligence occurred, said Bob Donohoe, president and CEO of the physician-governed Texas Medical Liability Trust. "It simply preserves the status quo," he said.
Historically, practice standards for physicians have been governed by the states and medical specialty societies.
In casting his vote in favor of the bill, Texas Senator John Cornyn said "This legislation provides our health care professionals with a predictable expectation for reimbursement rates, an idea that only sadly had been a dream for many physicians in Texas and across the country."
CONTACT: Jon Opelt
Texas Alliance For Patient Access
2301 South Capital of Texas Highway, J-101
Austin, Texas 78746
Voice: (512) 703-2156
Email: [email protected]
SOURCE Texas Alliance for Patient Access