Oregon Lawmakers Return To Salem, Will Consider Medical Malpractice Proposal

Feb 4, 2013

A long-festering dispute between Oregon doctors and trial lawyers may be closer to a resolution. The two groups have reached a deal aimed at reducing the cost of medical malpractice litigation. It’s one of many subjects of debate when Oregon lawmakers return to the capitol Monday. Salem Correspondent Chris Lehman reports.

Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber sat members of the state's medical and legal community down at the same table. After months of negotiations the two groups worked out a deal meant to save doctors money when it comes to medical malpractice insurance. Salem oncology doctor Bud Pierce heads the Oregon Medical Association. He says the proposal would create what’s known as a “safe harbor:” a chance for physicians and injured patients to try to work out their differences before anyone files a lawsuit.

Pierce: "People can speak freely and openly, try to solve disputes, try to compensate if medical errors have occurred. And if that breaks down, then the legal system can be used."

Some Oregon doctors oppose the plan. They say it will do little to the reign in the cost of health care. They're pushing for a cap on damage awards in malpractice cases. But that idea has failed to gain traction among majority Democrats in the legislature.

Copyright 2013 Northwest Public Radio