FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE: TUESDAY, AUG. 24 2010
CONTACT: Leigh Fifelski
LANSING – Citizens today criticized legislation by Sen. Roger Kahn that would give doctors – and their insurance companies – complete immunity when emergency room doctors harm or kill patients, a plan that would endanger peoples’ lives, cost taxpayers millions of dollars and unfairly remove patients’ ability to hold doctors accountable.
Under Senate Bill 858, doctors would get total immunity – even for deadly medical carelessness and even when those errors are egregious, preventable, unintentional and obvious, such as performing medical procedures while intoxicated.
“Instead of doing his job and ensuring that our doctors follow the highest medical standards that can save lives, Roger Kahn is protecting quacks and alcoholics with scalpels,” Progress Michigan Executive Director David Holtz said. “Roger Kahn’s ‘drunk doctors immunity bill’ is a deadly mistake that gives bad doctors a free pass while the lives of our children, grandparents and loved ones are put at risk. Roger Kahn’s plan is bad medicine for ordinary working families devastated by medical malpractice and just another way to deny citizens the power to hold bad doctors accountable.”
By giving bad doctors total immunity from being held accountable, Kahn’s plan disproportionately endangers the most vulnerable patients, such as infants, seniors, pregnant women, minority and poor patients.
SB 858 will also cost Medicaid and Michigan taxpayers millions of dollars. With Medicaid and Medicare funding 42 percent of emergency room patients, for example, the costs for medical errors – which are more likely in ERs – will be borne by taxpayers, not the doctors or their insurance companies.
“Creating complete emergency room immunity is like totally deregulating Wall Street: the deadly cost will be a plague on health care for years to come, and Michigan citizens will be sent the bills,” said Norman Tucker, a legal expert on medical malpractice who has worked for both doctors and injured patients.
More than 98,000 Americans die from preventable medical errors each year. Another 200,000 die from infections suffered during hospital care. Hundreds of thousands more suffer injuries from such errors and infections, according to recent data.
“Sen. Kahn should be working to protect patients from preventable medical mistakes, not bad doctors and their insurance companies,” said Linda Teeter, executive director of Michigan Citizen Action. “He’s fought to stop Michiganders from holding drug makers accountable when their products harm or kill, and now he’s trying to do the same for emergency room doctors who make deadly errors or show up to work drunk. Once again, Sen. Kahn is on the side of everyone but the Michigan citizens he’s supposed to be fighting for.”