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New Malpractice Law Raises Concerns

A consumer advocacy group says it may be harder to track medical malpractice cases under a new Oregon law.

The new law, set to take effect in 2014, gives doctors and patients the option to settle malpractice claims through mediation before a lawsuit is even filed. National consumer advocacy group Public Citizen is concerned the law could undermine the database created to keep track of malpractice claims. Cases settled in mediation are not necessarily reported to the current National Practitioner Data Bank, which hospitals, clinics and state licensing boards reference whenever they do a background check on a physician.

In a letter (pdf) to Health and Human Services director Kathleen Sebelius, Public Citizen asks for a change in the federal law to require a report to the Data Bank when malpractice payouts are the result of a mediated settlement.

Are you a doctor or lawyer in Oregon? Do you work for a hospital or other medical institution? How will this new law affect you? If you’re a patient, what questions do you have about it?

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