American Samoa Govt Drafting Malpractice Legislation

By Fili Sagapolutele in Pago Pago

The American Samoa government is drafting legislation that would have LBJ Medical Center pay any malpractice suits against the hospital and the government.

The legislation would also appoint a hospital committee to review the work performance of each physician and if they were involved in a malpractice lawsuit, take necessary action against them.

The hospital is an independent agency of the government, governed by a board of directors, but under current law, the Executive Branch pays for any malpractice lawsuits against the hospital and its employees. The hospital has faced several malpractice suits over the years, depleting the account set aside to pay for suits against the Executive Branch and the hospital.

This year alone more than $100,000 has been paid out of the account, which has an annual budget of $200,000.

Speaking on his weekend radio program, Gov. Togiola Tulafono said legislation is being drafted that would allow LBJ to take full responsibility for malpractice suits.

He said if it proven that a physician or nurse is liable, then LBJ can deduct from that employee’s paycheck money to repay the LBJ.

Togiola said medical personnel should be held responsible for malpractice suits, noting that some physicians have been found to be at fault in past lawsuits, yet they are still working at the hospital.

He said the LBJ board should establish a special committee to review and recommend to the Health Service Regulatory Board possible actions against a physician found to be responsible for problems that resulted in the lawsuit.

The governor also said that the Executive Branch is reviewing laws from other states in order to draft language allowing the government to criminally prosecute a physician or nurse found to be liable for the death of a patient.

Togiola hopes the proposed legislation will ready for submission to the Fono this month.

Hospital officials have told the Fono that the hospital does not have the money to pay for lawsuits and that requiring physicians to have malpractice insurance, which is very expensive, is not affordable by either LBJ or the physicians.

This article originally appeared at PacificMagazine.net. The site is being redone and we will relink to the original article when they republish it. For the time being, we will leave it on our site for archiving purposes.

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