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House bill could give make it harder to prove doctor's negligence

A bill has passed the U.S. House of Representatives with a vote of 392 to 37. With overwhelming support, the House Medicare bill will stop a cut in fees for Medicare doctors that was supposed to happen this month. The U.S. Senate will vote on the bill after returning on April 13.

The bill will also require that doctors are rated on their performance and the quality of care they provide. The government will rate the doctors from zero to 100. This rating would be used in a new payment formula that would be based on "quality measures."

Unfortunately for patients who have suffered from medical malpractice or negligence, the new legal standards of care listed in the bill cannot be used in a medical malpractice or negligence lawsuit. This provision was passed by the House in 2009 in the overhaul of health care, but the Senate dropped that part from the version that became law.

The bill has the support of President Obama and the American Medical Association. The president of the AMA said that the quality criteria and federal guidelines shouldn't be used "to invent new legal actions against physicians."

An attorney for the American Association of Retired Persons called the provision "very troubling." A national consumer group believes that it will be more difficult for residents of nursing homes to establish negligence when a home violates federal safety and health standards.

Medical malpractice and negligence lawsuits are very time-consuming and quite complex. While this bill hasn't passed the Senate, it is certainly something to keep an eye on. An experienced Connecticut personal injury attorney can provide victims of medical malpractice and their families with more information on how to proceed with your case.

Source: The New York Times, "House Provision Offers Doctors More Protection Against Malpractice Suits," Robert Pear, March. 30, 2015

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