March 14, 2019
ASA Member Testifies before Oregon House on Medical Liability Bill
On March 5, 2019, ASA member and Oregon Society of Anesthesiologists President Kate Ropp, M.D., testified before the Oregon House Committee on Judiciary in response to HB 2014 which, if passed, would create a challenging medical liability climate for physicians in the state. Among other things, the bill would eliminate existing caps on noneconomic damages for actions arising out of bodily injury.
Dr. Ropp testified that eliminating the cap on non-economic damages – which includes pain and suffering -- could increase the practice of defensive medicine where physicians increasingly refer patients for tests and procedures to protect themselves from potential lawsuits. Currently, there is no cap on economic damages, which includes items like lost wages and medical bills.
Many states – including Oregon – have passed laws that cap non-economic damages in such cases. These limits help to reduce health care costs, stabilize medical liability insurance markets, eliminate physician flight from high-risk states, and protect patients’ access to needed care. As Dr. Ropp shared in her statement, eliminating the cap would have disastrous downstream effects on physicians, especially those in high liability specialties and doctors who practice in rural areas.
Dr. Ropp closed her argument by stressing the importance of maintaining balance between making patients whole while protecting their access to healthcare and if passed, this bill would greatly disrupt that balance.
ASA commends Dr. Ropp for her testimony and will continue to monitor this piece of legislation.