House bill 306, sponsored by Henrico County neurologist and Del. John O’Bannon, would authorize the state health commissioner to work with private health care facilities to implement a program that calls for full disclosure to patients when things go wrong and a “pre-claim resolution process” to head off lawsuits.
The project is a recommendation of a legislative study committee. “Numerous publications extol disclosure, apology and early settlement conversations as the solution – the key to containing costs, even while compensating patients appropriately, and almost magically making everyone happier,” the panel wrote.
O’Bannon said the idea would be to try to the program with a major hospital group like Riverside, Carilion or Sentara.
O’Bannon also is carrying two familiar-but-ill-fated tort reform measures for the Virginia Chamber of Commerce. One would allow depositions to be used for summary judgment and the other would establish an offer of judgment process. Tyler Craddock with the Chamber said the measures would make trial lawyers think twice about filing frivolous lawsuits or going forward after getting “solid, good-faith offers.”
Similar proposals have foundered before in the Assembly, and O’Bannon said he had no illusions about their prospects this time around.
By Peter Vieth