Wednesday, May 03, 2006

Malpractice bill vetoed by governor

From AZ Central:

Gov. Janet Napolitano vetoed a bill Tuesday that aimed to make it more difficult for patients to collect damages in lawsuits against emergency-room personnel.

House Bill 2315 was one of four bills vetoed by Napolitano. Supporters of the measure said the threat of costly lawsuits has led to fewer doctors, especially specialists such as brain surgeons, working in emergency rooms. Opponents said the bill would have left the public at risk of not being able to receive compensation for injuries caused by negligence.

Napolitano wrote in her veto letter that there isn't any proof that the bill would have alleviated a shortage of emergency-room doctors. She also said five former Arizona Supreme Court justices wrote to her to express concern that the bill may have been unconstitutional.

The legislation would have raised the burden of proof necessary to win a lawsuit against emergency-room personnel from a preponderance of evidence to clear and convincing evidence, the highest standard in civil cases.

Doctors said that would encourage specialists to return to the ER by reducing their chances of losing a career-ending lawsuit. Opponents, led by trial attorneys, said the bill would hurt those least able to defend themselves while doing nothing to help the problems of overcrowded emergency rooms.


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