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Medical professional liabilities bill passes Senate Judiciary

By Lexi Browning

For the West Virginia Press Association


CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation to modify existing medical professional liabilities passed Thursday in the Senate Judiciary Committee.

Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan

If passed, Senate Bill 338 would provide a venue preference and establish an attorney’s fee schedule based upon amount recovered.  Judiciary Chairman Sen. Charles Trump, R-Morgan, sponsored S.B. 338.

See the original bill heresb338 intr

Patrick Kelly, CEO of the West Virginia Health Care Association, said S.B. 338 would be beneficial for healthcare providers who had previously been required to commute from their respective facility to Kanawha County for court proceedings.

Instead, the legislation would refer each case to its circuit court where each case may be reviewed “and judged by the people who know the facility best,” Kelly said.

“What’s happening now is that some of the facilities have a corporate office in Charleston, so if you have a case in the Northern or Eastern Panhandle, those folks have to leave their facility to come to Kanawha County,” Kelly said. “You can’t take an administrator or nurses out of the building for a long period of time.”

The proposed changes also include adding a definition to “occurrence,” which would be defined as “any and all injuries to a patient arising from health care rendered by a healthcare facility or a healthcare provider and includes any continuing, additional or follow-up care provided to that patient for reasons relating to the original healthcare provided.”

Kelly said the proposed legislation would also revive the bill’s original purpose with the addition of nursing home modifications.

“This makes sure that the caps that were passed several years ago remain in tact and it’s basically there to keep things where they were in many respects,” Kelly said. “There have been efforts to open it up and change it and this will just keep it where it has been for the last several years.”

Senators Randy Smith, R-Tucker, Craig Blair, R-Berkeley, Chandler Swope, R-Mercer, Mike Azinger, R-Wood, Jeff Mullins, R-Raleigh, Ryan Ferns, R-Ohio, Ryan Weld, R-Brooke, Ed Gaunch, R-Kanawha, and Sue Cline, R-Wyoming, co-sponsored the bill.

S.B. 338 will be reported to the Senate with the recommendation that it passes.

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