Medical liability measures consider emergency preparedness

February 1, 2006

Medical liability reform is gaining more attention as critical for ensuring access to care and spurring development of new medical treatments.

WASHINGTON, D.C.-Medical liability reform is gaining more attention as critical for ensuring access to care and spurring development of new medical treatments.

A liability protection provision, for example, was included in legislation that Congress approved in December to launch the administration's Pandemic Influenza plan. Language providing liability protection for manufacturers of pandemic countermeasures was added to the $453 billion 2006 defense appropriations bill, which provides $3.8 billion to support national emergency preparedness and the development of new vaccines and drugs.

BROAD MEASURE

Separately, an analysis of emergency medical care across the country down-rates many states due to their poor "medical liability environment," according to the American College of Emergency Physicians (ACEP).

In developing a report card on the nation's emergency medicine capabilities, ACEP gave points to states that have adopted caps on non-economic damage awards.

The report card also rates states on three other measures: access to emergency care; quality and patient safety; and public health and injury prevention.

These categories evaluate a state's percentage of uninsured; availability of hospital beds and emergency specialists; access to ambulances and 911 services; local injury prevention programs; and immunization rates. Only a handful of states received "B" ratings, while most scored only "Cs" and "Ds."