Tuesday, March 16, 2010
Georgia Supreme Court upholds higher burden of proof in ER med mal cases
Yesterday, in a 4-3 decision, the Supreme Court of Georgia upheld the constitutionality of a rule that requires a higher burden of proof in cases of negligence on the part of emergency room personnel. The rule requires the plaintiff to show "gross negligence" on the part of emergency room doctors in order to sustain a medical malpractice claim. The case is called Gliemmo v. Cousineau. The majority concluded that to be constitutional, the law needs only to bear a reasonable relationship to a legitimate state purpose and that "promoting affordable liability insurance for health care providers and hospitals, and thereby promoting the availability of quality health care services, are certainly legitimate legislative purposes." I have not read the actual opinion so I can't comment on how the case was presented or on how this conclusion was reached, but the conclusion is disturbing because I have never seen any evidence that proves convincingly that making it more difficult for plaintiffs to maintain a cause of action results in lower insurance rates for doctors or in affordable health care for consumers. I have posted numerous articles that refute the court's implied conclusion. You can find these posts - with numerous links to other articles - by going here and scrolling down. Go here for the full story.