How Will Affordable Care Act Impact Medical Malpractice Claims?

The Affordable Care Act, or Obamacare as the law is commonly known, is set to take effect soon and, although the law does not specifically address medical malpractice claims, many experts anticipate that the law will enhance the standards of care for patients.

The Affordable Care Act introduces a plan to charge patients based on doctor performance rather than the typical fee-for-service charge. As a result, doctors, hospitals, and healthcare providers may be held to a higher standard of care when treating patients. While some doctors fear that this will create undue liability, we think that this provision will enhance and improve patient care.

Patients should expect to receive the adequate medical treatment and when the medical treatment deviates from the general standard of care, doctors and hospitals should be held liable. Unfortunately, some states such as Georgia have passed legislation stating that any “medical guideline or reimbursement criteria developed or implemented under any federal law cannot be construed as a standard of care to establish a physicians’ negligence in a medical malpractice or product liability suit.”

Laws limiting a doctor’s liability, and reducing the standard of care, are not only harmful to patients, but they are harmful to the entire health care system.

The Affordable Care Act is not without risks, however. Some experts fear that the Affordable Care Act’s insurance mandates will create an influx of previously uninsured patients that doctors and hospitals will be unable to handle, resulting in less time and attention given to patients. Patients should always expect to receive adequate medical treatment that conforms to the appropriate standard of care, regardless of the number of other patients a doctor sees. Hospitals and clinics may need to hire additional staff to keep up with demand.

The Affordable Care Act also focuses on preventative care, which can hardly be seen as an impediment to adequate medical treatment.

Patients are advised to be vigilant about their own medical care in the months following the implementation of the Affordable Care Act. Patients should seek highly qualified doctors in well-managed offices with adequate staffing. Patients also shouldn’t be afraid to ask questions and seek second opinions. If you suspect that you aren’t receiving the medical care that you deserve, see another doctor and contact a skilled medical malpractice lawyer. If you were the victim of medical negligence, you could be entitled to money damages for your medical bills, lost wages, pain and suffering, and emotional distress, among other damages.

Contact the Chicago injury lawyers at Cogan & Power, P.C. to learn more about the Affordable Care Act or to schedule a consultation with one of our dedicated Chicago medical malpractice lawyers.