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Ben Glass
Ben Glass
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Georgia Unfairly Restricts the Right to Sue E.R. Doctors

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A big difference to hospitals and patients could be made by a slight change in the wording of the malpractice reform law of the state of Georgia.

Georgia Watch, a consumer advocacy group, is making a push for an amendment which would make it easier for patients who believe they have been harmed in the emergency room to file suit against hospitals.

During the 2007 Georgia General Assembly, Senate Bill 286 was introduced by not brought up for vote. Reintroduction is expected during the current session.

A provision in the tort reform law passed in February of 2005, often called SB3, is the target of the bill. According to that law, ER staff can’t be held liable for damages unless evidence that is clear and convincing can be provided that the actions of the physician or health care provider “showed gross negligence.”

With SB 286, “showed gross negligence would be replaced with “failed to meet the applicable standard of care.”

According to Allison Wall, Georgia Watch director, “reckless disregard for the safety of a patient” is what “gross negligence” is most commonly defined as, which is nearly impossible to prove in an emergency room.

“Applicable standard of care” is believed to be more precise. For example, an attorney would be able to use medical records in order to show that the standard treatment protocol for a specific diagnosis was failed to be met by a doctor.

According to Wall, “this wording would at least give patients a chance at achieving accountability.”