Thursday, April 30, 2009

LD 1435 Reporting "Sentinel Events"

If legislators really cared about us, they'd get rid of the discrimination against plaintiffs in medical malpractice lawsuits instead of simply imposing fines on the medical profession for non-reporting of errors. See the article at the bottom of this page, by Maine Attorney David Very, regarding the 2006 Maine Supreme Court decision Smith v. Hawthorne.

Some of the errors, called Sentinel Events, which hospitals in Maine must report or face fines for not reporting are: operating on the wrong body part, performing the wrong operation, operating on the wrong person, discharging an infant to the wrong person, etc..

This bill gives immunity to a person who in good faith reports a suspected sentinel event or a sentinel event, or expresses regret or an apology to the patient or the patient's family.

This bill increases the civil penalty to no more than $25,000, instead of $5,000, authorizes the division to collect the civil penalty without going to court and gives the health care facility the right to request an administrative hearing to contest the imposition of a penalty.

Hmmm... sounds sort of like a "hush" fee. Gee, imagine if contractors had that option: "Sorry, we built you a ranch instead of a cape. And, oh, we built it on the wrong land, and there's a leak in the roof... we're really sorry. There, now that we've apologized, we don't have to compensate you for our error."

At the public hearing on the bills to increase judicial salaries, which I testified at, I told the judiciary committee that LD 322 was a ridiculous bill; and that they'd look like fools if they voted to pass it. The bill says that Worker's Comp doesn't have to pay for medical errors caused by doctors and hospitals. No dah! Why do we need a bill for that? Because it appears that worker's comp and Mainecare have been footing the bill for doctor errors in Maine!

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