Thursday, March 31, 2011

Building the Case for Tort Reform

March 31, 2011

Earlier this year, AHCA/NCAL President and CEO, Governor Mark Parkinson, sounded the call for medical liability reform.

“For the long term care profession, the issue is about preserving dwindling resources for patient care and adequate staffing… Let’s get it done.”

Now there appears to be new evidence supporting why tort reform is needed. A new study in the New England Journal of Medicine found that high-quality nursing homes get sued almost as often as other nursing homes.

According to the study, the top 10 percent of nursing homes had a 40 percent risk of being sued, while the worst 10 percent of nursing homes were only slightly higher with a 47 percent chance of being sued. The study suggests that lawsuits, or the threat of lawsuits, do not encourage nursing facilities to increase their quality of care.

Reporter Jennifer Goodwin of HealthDay highlighted the report and turned to AHCA’s own director of government relations Teresa Cagnolatti.

"The report's findings that a facility's quality of care does not affect the frequency of litigation demonstrates that comprehensive tort reform is essential. These legal distractions demoralize providers and employees, threaten staffing ratios and most importantly diminish resources from facilities providing good quality of care.”

But even with bipartisan support in Congress and the backing of the President, tort reform has yet to move this year.

AHCA/NCAL is supporting specific legislation to tackle medical malpractice – H.R. 5, the Help Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely Healthcare (HEALTH) Act of 2011, introduced by Phil Gingrey (R-GA). The legislation would cap non-economic damages and establish a time limit to file a claim. The measure is currently before the House Committee on Energy and Commerce. You can TAKE ACTION today by emailing your Member of Congress through AHCA/NCAL’s Advocacy Center.

Let your representative know today that reforming malpractice suits can help ensure nursing homes have more resources to provide quality care.

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