Bill would protect ER doctors, nurses from lawsuits

Chris Rizo Jun. 22, 2009, 9:49am

PHOENIX, Ariz. (Legal Newsline) -A bill winding its way through the Arizona state Legislature would make it more difficult for litigants to sue hospitals and emergency room health care providers.

Senate Bill 1018 cleared a Senate committee Wednesday, and is headed to the Senate floor.

The bill was introduced by state Sen. Carolyn Allen, R-Scottsdale, chairman of the Senate Healthcare and Medical Liability Reform Committee.

The legislation would keep in place a legal requirement that medical malpractice plaintiffs show the care received did not meet the professional standards, but would require that before damages can be collected medical malpractice would have to be proven by "clear and convincing evidence" unlike the current "preponderance of the evidence" requirement.

The bill -- backed by the Arizona Nurses Association and the Arizona Medical Association -- is necessary because, among other things, emergency room medical staff often lack established relationships with patients, medical records are not available and because patients' condition may render him or her unable to communicate, the nurses' group said.

"These and other factors place hospitals and health care providers in a precarious position," the Arizona Nurses Association said in a position paper.

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