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Ohio legislators pass incremental
restrictions on victims of medical negligence

Among other restrictions, bill would prohibit use of expressions
of sympathy or condolence by hospital staff or doctors.

(5/13/2004) - According to an article from Modern Healthcare, the Ohio House of Representatives has passed a bill providing for “incremental med-mal reform.” According to the article, the bill was introduced into the Ohio Senate yesterday, where it is expected to be favorably received.

The article quotes Ohio Hospital Association spokeswoman Mary Yost who said: "Both of our chambers are strongly Republican. And there are no major roadblocks in the Senate, so we expect they will view it favorably and send it to the governor for his signature soon."

According to the article, Yost said the bill includes several provisions to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits. Those include the prohibition of using expressions of sympathy or condolence by hospital staff or doctors as evidence in a malpractice suit and a requirement that expert witnesses in malpractice trials belong to the same medical specialty as the practitioner charged, according to the article.

In addition, the bill authorizes the Ohio Department of Insurance to collect data on malpractice judgments and settlements, the article reports.

Removed from the bill were earlier provisions to establish medical review panels and a request that the state supreme court establish a medical claims court, according to the article.

Another bill in the legislative pipeline would, if passed, create a patient compensation fund to pay catastrophic judgments and settlements.

In 2003, the General Assembly passed a bill establishing a cap on non-economic damages.

Yost said in the past comprehensive medical malpractice reform bills have been ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court, so legislators have adopted a piecemeal, incremental approach to torte reform in that state.

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