Attorney Gerald Leeseberg of Columbus, representing the Ohio Association for Justice, said in opposition testimony that the current version of the bill still provides blanket immunity for negligent medical care on the part of emergency room personnel for any patients in any circumstance.
Mr. Leeseberg said only 12 claims were paid in Ohio in all of 2008 involving ER physicians, with the average payment $174,000. “It appears this is a solution without a problem,” he said in describing the bill. He said the measure would expressly prohibit recovery of any damages for wrongful death caused by the neglect of an emergency physician, and thus would violate the Ohio Constitution. “To the extent it could only apply to those who are injured from such neglect, it would violate constitutional equal protection guarantees,” Mr. Leeseberg said.
Deborah Dick of Kenton told the committee of her experience as a patient whose legs had to be amputated after ER doctors on two occasions failed to diagnose a condition of vascular occlusion. A jury subsequently found in her favor in a malpractice lawsuit.
“I am offended that this legislature has been asked to immunize negligent emergency room physicians for the harm they cause,” Ms. Dick said. “I almost died, and my life was catastrophically changed, because of mistakes made by emergency room doctors. The emotional scars will never heal.”
Attorney Donald Moore of Cincinnati said the bill would relieve negligent doctors at the expense of their seriously injured victims. He said patients who receive good care have no claims and are not affected by the legislation. Those who receive bad medical care, and are not hurt, are not affected because a patient must suffer an injury in order to have a claim.
“Accordingly, this bill, if passed, will take away justice only from those who are seriously hurt by substandard medical care,” Mr. Moore said. “The victim will have to prove the doctors bad act was only one notch short of on purpose.”
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