June 13, 2003
Governor Jeb Bush has proposed a comprehensive reform package for fixing Florida’s broken medical liability system. The legislation embraces the 60 recommendations made in January by the governor’s task force of independent university leaders. This holistic approach calls for improving quality of care, stabilizing the insurance market and creating more reasonable parameters for lawsuits and for compensating injured parties.The governor’s proposal provides for a 20-percent insurance rate rollback through changes to the so-called bad faith laws. Here’s a look at the major provisions:
Quality of care
- Strengthens the internal risk management programs of hospitals by requiring the hospital and physicians to report adverse incidents to patients.
- Gives the Board of Medicine more authority over standard of care issues, and changes the standard of evidence from “clear and convincing” to “greater weight of the evidence,” thus making it easier for the Board of Medicine to perform its disciplinary function.
- Requires all health care facilities to have a patient safety plan and creates patient safety instruction requirements at the medical school level.
- Requires AHCA to study the types of information the public might need to know in the selection of physicians and hospitals.
- Reforms bad faith provisions and lets insurance companies make settlement offers once they have all the information they need to make a reasonable decision. This provision will lead to a 20-percent rate rollback.
- Requires more comprehensive reporting of claims to the state Office of Insurance Regulation so Florida can better track trends and set policy.
- Permits doctors to self-insure, so they don’t have to necessarily rely on insurance companies.
- Does not limit economic damages, but provides a $250,000 cap on non-economic damages.
- Creates sovereign immunity for doctors and hospitals that provide emergency care in accordance with federal and state requirements that force them to do so.
- Provides needed changes to set offs, periodic payment of damages, arbitration, expert witnesses to place reasonable parameters on litigation and payments.