The following is a statement from American Association for Justice (AAJ) President Gibson Vance in response to H.R. 5, a "medical liability reform" bill that was introduced late yesterday in the U.S. House of Representatives:
"After repealing a bill that provided health insurance to over 30 million Americans, the next proposal from the new House leadership is to take away the legal rights of injured patients, remove any incentive to improve safety, and leave people at risk for more injuries from negligent care. This is the most perverse form of legislating imaginable.
"Ten years ago, the Institute of Medicine found that as many as 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors. Recent studies have confirmed the problem is only getting worse.
"This bill will impose severe, one-size-fits-all caps on damages that injured patients can seek - not just when injured by medical negligence, but also by defective drugs, medical devices, or abuse suffered in nursing homes. It even extends this cap to health care providers that intentionally harm or kill patients, as well as insurance companies that refuse to pay just claims for medical bills.
"The bill is beyond extreme. Its authors should focus on real measures that will improve patient safety, not provide welfare to drug and insurance companies that stand to gain the most from this proposal.
"By removing legal accountability, attention to safety will go down and more people will suffer injuries and death from negligent care. Congress should put patient safety first."