AMA supports medical malpractice legislation

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The American Medical Association is supporting a bi-partisan bill that is intended to fix the medical liability system and reduce health care cost growth.

Known as the HEALTH act (Help Efficient, Accessible, Low-cost, Timely Healthcare), the bill is similar to laws already enacted in Calfornia and Texas. The law would set limits on settlement amounts, deadlines for making a claim and standards for defining malpractice.

Medical liability premiums rose a 945 percent from 1976 to 2009, the increase in California was one-third that amount, just 261 percent.

Dr. Ardis Hoven, chairman of the AMA, said the medical malpractice system is “increasingly irrational.”

“Nearly 61 percent of the physicians age 55 and older have been sued,” she said. She also shared results that show the system is unfair and costly for both patients and doctors, with 95 medical liability claims filed for every 100 doctors. The majority of claims lack merit, with 64 percent of those filed in 2009 dropped or dismissed.

As a result of the fear of lawsuits, many doctors take extra, unnecessary measures to avoid being sued – defensive medicine. The costs of unnecessary testing and procedures is between $70 and $126 billion every year.