An Oregon medical malpractice reform initiative signed into law during March 2013 by the Governor of Oregon might end up harming the public throughout the United States by permitting bad doctors to hide their past medical mistakes. SB 483 allows negligent doctors and their injured patients to agree to settle medical malpractice claims through a confidential mediation process before a medical malpractice lawsuit is filed in a procedure designed to avoid the requirement that certain medical malpractice claim payments be reported to the National Practitioner Data Bank (“NPDB”).
The NPDB is a confidential information clearinghouse created by Congress with the primary goals of improving health care quality, protecting the public, and reducing health care fraud and abuse in the U.S. The NPDB is primarily an alert or flagging system intended to facilitate a comprehensive review of the professional credentials of health care practitioners, health care entities, providers, and suppliers. The intent is to encourage State Licensing Boards, professional societies, hospitals, and other health care entities to restrict the ability of incompetent physicians, dentists, and other health care practitioners to move from state to state without disclosure or discovery of previous medical malpractice payment and adverse action history. Source
Federal law requires that “Each entity (including an insurance company) which makes payment under a policy of insurance, self-insurance, or otherwise in settlement (or partial settlement) of, or in satisfaction of a judgment in, a medical malpractice action or claim shall report, in accordance with section 11134 of this title, information respecting the payment and circumstances thereof.” Federal law specifically defines medical malpractice action or claim to mean “a written claim or demand for payment based on a health care provider’s furnishing (or failure to furnish) health care services, and includes the filing of a cause of action, based on the law of tort, brought in any court of any State or the United States seeking monetary damages.”
The new Oregon medical malpractice law attempts to circumvent the NPDB’s reporting requirement by expressing providing that, “A payment made to a patient under section 3 of the 2013 Act or as a result of a mediation under section 5 of the 2013 Act is not a payment resulting from a written claim or demand for payment.” Source
By apparently removing the payment of an Oregon medical malpractice claim paid under the new medical malpractice mediation law as a payment resulting from a written claim or demand for payment, such medical malpractice claim payments made under the new Oregon law would arguably not have to be reported to the NPDB. Therefore, entities searching the NPDB database for medical malpractice payments made on behalf of prospective new employees would not discover such Oregon medical malpractice payments.
Critics of the new Oregon medical malpractice law argue that it may harm the public because the malpractice history of bad doctors will not be discovered as they move from state to state.
If you or a loved one were injured as a result of medical malpractice in Oregon or in another U.S. state, you should promptly seek to consult with an Oregon medical malpractice attorney (or a medical malpractice attorney in your state) who may investigate your possible medical malpractice claim for you and file a malpractice claim on your behalf, if appropriate.
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