Malpractice law expansion rejected


The House of Representatives watered down, then killed, legislation Monday to expand coverage under the state’s medical malpractice laws.

House Bill 70 by Rep. Greg Cromer, R-Slidell, died when 44 representatives voted for it while 45 representatives voted against it.

Fifty-three votes are needed for passage. Sixteen House member didn’t vote.

Cromer wanted to add to the definition of malpractice, problems that occur in the transporting and monitoring of patients as well as failure to attend to their personal hygiene.

“It’s a consumer bill,� Cromer told his colleagues.

He said the idea is to provide some recourse for patients in cases where there is no general liability insurance policy.

Other lawmakers lined up to fight the measure opposed by the AARP.

Rep. Rick Gallot, D-Ruston, said he didn’t understand how a nursing home patient falling out of a wheelchair would be medical malpractice.

Rep. Chris Roy Jr., D-Alexandria, said courts have defined what constitutes medical malpractice.

He said there is a six-prong test that has worked well.

Hygiene is not a medical malpractice issue, Roy said.

“It’s a human decency issue,� he said.

Rep. Walt Leger, D-New Orleans, said the legislation would allow nursing homes to go under the medical malpractice cap to handle “negligence situations and overburden the system.�

Malpractice claims go before a medical review board which would be forced to handle non-medical issues, opponents said.

Transportation and hygiene-related claims are best handled through general liability insurance, they said.

Cromer continued to argue that the legislation would “fill the gap for coverage for the residents of nursing homes.�

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