Almost three quarters of physicians in this country will face a medical malpractice lawsuit at some point in their careers. Fear of liability can guide a practitioner’s choices, including potentially ordering unnecessary tests or procedures.

In order to address this problem, two U.S. Congressmen, Andy Barr (R-KY) and Ami Bera (D-CA), have introduced H.R. 4106, the Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act. The new act proposes lowering healthcare costs and improving patient care using evidence-based guidelines developed by healthcare professionals, thereby reducing medical malpractice and insurance fraud. 

If passed, clinicians who follow the guidelines would be eligible for “safe harbor” – protection from liability – if the case involves federal money or care. According to the legislators, “a multidisciplinary panel of experts” will develop practice guidelines based on “the best available scientific evidence.”

If a clinician is being sued and argues that he or she conformed to the guidelines, the case will be put in front of an independent medical review panel for investigation. If the panel determines that the clinician did comply or that the injury was not caused by failure to comply, the case will be dismissed.

The proposed Act is a “practical way to bring down the skyrocketing cost of healthcare and to make the system work better for patients,” Bera, who is also a physician, said. “[A]s a doctor, I know that physicians want to do what’s best for their patients and promoting evidence-based medicine will help us do that.”

 “Americans deserve healthcare reform that will help lower the cost of care and protect the sacred patient-doctor relationship. Our bill will lead to better, more affordable and evidence-based patient care by removing the need for physicians to worry about practicing defensive medicine, instead allowing them to focus on their patients’ actual needs,” Barr said.

More information about the Act can be found here: http://barr.house.gov/sites/barr.house.gov/files/BarrBeraHR4106OnePager.pdf