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Governor Patrick Urges Healthcare and Medical Malpractice Reform in Massachusetts

Late last month, Massachusetts Governor Deval Patrick urged lawmakers to pass a sweeping overhaul of the healthcare cost system in the state, following up a similar call to action last year. A large part of his reform effort focuses on restructuring medical malpractice laws in the state. As part of his state of the state address last month, Patrick called for an end to the “fee-for-service” model currently used, which rewards medical providers for the amount of care provided, rather than the quality of care. Governor Patrick also stressed that lawmakers need to amend medical malpractice laws in Massachusetts, making it more difficult to bring suit for medical malpractice and to ultimately prevail. Despite lobbying for a similar overhaul last year, there was no remarkable change to medical malpractice law or healthcare cost systems in Massachusetts. The Governor hopes his latest efforts will bring about more legislative action.

According to Senate President Therese Murray, however, Governor Patrick’s renewed proposals again face many roadblocks. Murray told the State House News Service, “It’s a very difficult piece of legislation because we don’t want to harm our health care institutions. They’re the number one driver of our economy.” Similarly, House Speaker Robert DeLeo would not commit to getting a bill done in the next three months, stressing that a reform to medical malpractice laws and healthcare cost systems are large-scale changes that can greatly affect the healthcare system, and economy, as a whole. The disagreement between legislators surrounding health laws in the state is not novel, as these issues have escaped consensus on Beacon Hill for many years.

Pursuant to Governor Patrick’s medical malpractice legislation, he is calling for laws aimed at decreasing the use of “defensive medicine” and reducing expensive lawsuits by encouraging reconciliation between doctors and patients, before legal action is taken. Because of the high-risk of a lawsuit, doctors who commit medical malpractice are often hesitant to admit fault and address errors. Governor Patrick’s proposed legislation hopes to change this sentiment, allowing Massachusetts doctors to say “I’m sorry” without risking their apology being admitted as evidence against them in a med malpractice lawsuit. Additionally, in an effort to curtail frivolous suits, the bill also calls for a 180-day “cooling off period” before a medical malpractice suit can be brought. All of these laws would make medical malpractice suits more difficult to bring and ultimately win. They would, however, allow doctors to practice without the constant fear of a lawsuit and admit mistakes without automatic penalty.

Many of the world’s best medical professionals, facilities, and care providers are located in Greater Boston. Yet, even the most skilled medical providers and doctors commit medical errors. Many times, legal redress is available to patients who receive substandard care. The Boston, Cambridge, and Quincy medical malpractice attorneys at Bellotti Law Group have successfully handled many cases involving medical malpractice. Call our medical malpractice lawyers at 617-225-2100 for a free consultation.

While these proposals reflect the modern interest of reforming healthcare legislation and practice, it is unclear what effect if any they will have on reducing medical malpractice suits, especially when the injuries are serious and causally related to the medical provider’s negligence. Medical malpractice stems from the failure of a medical doctor or medical professional to perform competently when treating a patient. This substandard treatment results in a personal injury or substantial loss, such as income or life enjoyment, to the victim. If a doctor in Massachusetts does not practice the amount of care and skill that another physician or surgeon in the same field under similar circumstances would provide, or if they fail to follow certain medical standards in Massachusetts, a medical malpractice suit may be in order.

The effects of medical malpractice can be devastating for victims and their families–physically, emotionally, and financially. We will work with you to help get your medical bills paid and your life back on track. Bellotti Law Group serves Greater Boston, Cambridge, Quincy, Braintree, Brookline, Newton, the South Shore, and all of Massachusetts. Our offices are located in Cambridge and Quincy. Contact us today at 617-225-2100.