A bill currently before an Ohio Senate committee looks to give doctors more protection and patients less. Ohio Senate Bill 129 would take away patients’ right to sue for medical errors when they receive emergency medical services under the federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act (EMTALA).
This civil immunity bill, if passed, would be yet another blow to Ohio patients’ rights during a time when patient safety is being constantly undermined by political agendas and tort “reform.” In particular, the bill would make it impossible for patients and their Ohio medical negligence attorneys to sue medical doctors if those doctors create further injury by acting negligently in the ER or in other emergency situations. While the bill would allow patients to sue doctors for “willful misconduct,” patients injured by serious medical mistakes would have nowhere to turn.
Currently, if a patient can show that a doctor’s negligence caused the patient an injury that he or she would not have suffered had the doctor not acted negligently, the patient can recover compensation for his or her injuries. The ability to sue for medical malpractice not only helps patients move forward after a serious injury; it also holds doctors accountable.
Medical doctors and nurses must meet a certain standard of care. Failure to do so means putting lives at risk and lowering the overall standard of care that everyone should expect from their doctors.
Proponents of Ohio S.B. 129 state that ER physicians should be held to a different, lesser, standard than other physicians since emergency care is unique. In the ER, doctors work with patients they have never worked with before in high-stress situations. However, that is exactly what ER doctors are trained to do. Why shouldn’t they be held accountable for reading a medical chart wrong, making a medication error or failing to look up a patient’s medical history?
Source: Fox 19, “Senate Bill 129 Spurs Debate Between ER Doctors and Their Patients,” Tiffany Teasley, Nov. 16, 2011.