Sen. Brandon Beach (R-Alpharetta) announced Monday his bill, known as the “Patient Injury Act,” has been assigned to a summer subcommittee.
Senate Bill 141, sponsored by Beach, would replace the state’s medical malpractice system with an administrative model. In two town hall meetings in Cherokee County this past weekend, Beach claimed the model would reduce health care costs.
“Although Senate Bill 141 was tabled this morning, I look forward to working with colleagues and professionals over the summer to refine this bill for a vote early next year,” Beach said in a release. “After hours of testimony from both sides, it is evident that something must be done to reform our current malpractice system. SB 141 is a step in the right direction of creating an alternative system that instills transparency in our medical system, saves taxpayers’ dollars and rejuvenates patient’s trust in the litigation process.”
Health and Human Services Chairwoman Renee Unterman (R-Buford) lauded Beach’s work on the bill.
“He worked diligently to seek citizen input and investigate both sides of the argument,” Unterman said. “SB 141 will require more work over the summer and fall and I look forward to continuing work on Sen. Beach’s legislation.”
According to a Senate release, the adversarial tort system would be eliminated under SB 141 and when a patient is harmed by a physician, he or she would file a claim for review by an independent panel of medical experts.
If the panel deems “avoidable harm” occurred, the claim would be forwarded to a compensation board to award compensation. The proposed administrative system — the “patient compensation system”— is multi-dimensional in its focus on the reduction of the cost of defensive medicine and an increase in true patient access to justice.
Various physicians ranging in the fields of neurology to family medicine testified in support of the bill which would create a no-fault system and assist in eliminating the practice of defensive medicine.
Additionally, the Georgia Public Policy Foundation advocated for the bill, with representatives noting the importance of moving from litigation-based malpractice system to an administrative-based system. Various other organizations and citizens voiced support of the bill including Emory Professor Joanna Shepherd Bailey, Ph. D., Patients for Fair Compensation, U. S. Sen. Tom Coburn (R-Oklahoma), Docs 4 Patient Care and Ross Mason, founder of the Healthcare Institute for Neuro-Recovery and Innovation.
Unterman will assign the summer subcommittee at a later time, according to the release.