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Debating Medical Malpractice “Reform” Laws in Michigan

Debate about medical malpractice “reform’ laws continue to rattle along in states across the country. For example, as we’ve previously discussed, Michigan, our neighbor to the north, is considering new laws that would strike a severe blow to fairness and justice to those hurt by medical malpractice. Advocates for patient safety are rallying to fight the dangerous proposals, but it is unclear if their efforts will be successful. Our Chicago malpractice attorneys send support to those fighting for those rights of those harmed by medical errors.

According to a recent story from MLive.com, more than 300 people turned out for testimony about the state bills, Senate Bills 1115-1118. Many of those fighting the bills shared the slogan, “Accountability, No Immunity” to highlight the plain fact that the laws would do nothing more than provide a free pass to medical professionals who hurt patients. Those supporting the bill are pushing the usual canards of doctor shortages and a need to curb “runaway” lawsuits. Sadly, many are taken in by these claims which have been shown time and again to have no basis in fact.

The story noted that the most controversial measure, Senate Bill 1116, “states that a health care professional or facility would not be liable if the doctor acted with reasonable and good-faith belief that the conduct was well-founded in medicine and in the patient’s best interests.”

While it may seem innocuous, each Chicago medical malpractice attorney at our firm appreciates that this language likely makes it far harder for those hurt to hold wrongdoers accountable. That is because this bill adds wiggle language so that negligent doctors can escape liability so long as they did not intentionally hurt patients.

One victim of medical malpractice noted the one-of-a-kind legal immunity the law would grant to certain people noting passionately that the bill “would allow someone like her with a medical degree [the negligent doctor] to have the status of a god, giving them rights far beyond their fellow citizens.”

One legislator made the obvious point the legislation does nothing more than protect bad doctors while doing nothing to limit malpractice, help patients, or promote good care. This clear issue is often lost in these tort reform debates. Skewed by false arguments about doctor shortages and insurance rates, many completely ignore the data which shows actual harm and legal unfairness to those lives lost and severely hurt by negligence.

Hopefully this Michigan situation is resolved without patients losing rights. Fortunately, most of these dangerous proposals are not in play in Illinois, though insurance and medical interests will undoubtedly continue trying to take away legal rights of Illinois patients in the months and years to come. At those times it will be important for all those who care about legal fairness to stand arm in arm and spread accurate information about the state of affairs and the consequences of these tort reform proposals.

If you are someone you know was hurt by unreasonable medical care, please take a moment to reach out to a Chicago medical malpractice lawyer at our firm to see how we can help.

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