Bonus goodie in reform bill: 26 new opportunities for trial lawyers to sue doctors

Well, I suppose it could have been worse. There may have been 27 or maybe 28 new ways for the Democrat's favorite interest group to make out like bandits through health care reform.

Joseph Nixon writing in NRO:

At least 26 sections in the House bill and 21 sections in Senator Reid's bill require that doctors adhere to certain standards of care in patient care, payment initiatives, payment determinations, and wellness-prevention programs that do not now exist in law. Each of these provisions could be used by a plaintiff's lawyer to assert that the doctor failed to comply with "best practices" guidelines and become the basis for a medical-malpractice lawsuit.

What frustrates physicians and state policymakers alike is that none of these proposed guidelines actually enhance patient care or safety. Instead, in inventing all these new standards of care - relating to such things as effectiveness research, accountability provisions, medical training standards, research and data recorded by pilot programs, task force and demonstration projects, qualification standards for medical personnel, and quality standards (many with enhanced civil penalties) - Congress is creating a regulatory nightmare for physicians and hospitals.

If this bill becomes law, hardly a day will go by when a physician will meet all of the required administrative and regulatory processes proposed by Congress in these bills. Physicians across the country will be exposed to many frivolous liability lawsuits based not on how they treated their patients but instead on whether they complied with certain government standards.

Nixon's point is well taken. The fact is, we don't have a clue how all of this will shake out because we don't know how the bureaucrats will turn this mush into regulations. Given how the bill is drawn, the effort of the health care regulators to carve out their own little kingdoms could result in a real nightmare for doctors, hospitals, and other providers.

And of course, one wrong move by the doc and hovering over him will be the legal vultures who will feed off misunderstandings, incorrect interpretations, and other innocent mistakes that will become commonplace when this complex system goes into effect.

This knocks the chocks from underneath state efforts at tort reform - which, no doubt, was the goal all along.

Hat Tip: Ed Lasky

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