Bill Text: WV SB6 | 2015 | Regular Session | Enrolled


Bill Title: Relating to medical professional liability

Spectrum: Moderate Partisan Bill (Republican 11-2)

Status: (Passed) 2015-04-15 - Chapter 168, Acts, Regular Session, 2015 [SB6 Detail]

Download: West_Virginia-2015-SB6-Enrolled.html

ENROLLED

COMMITTEE SUBSTITUTE

FOR

Senate Bill No. 6

(Senators Ferns, Boley, Carmichael, Gaunch, Leonhardt,

Mullins, Nohe, Trump, Blair, Plymale, Stollings,

Cole (Mr. President) and Takubo, original sponsors)

____________

[Passed March 10, 2015; in effect from passage.]

____________

 

 

AN ACT to amend and reenact §55-7B-1, §55-7B-2, §55-7B-7, §55-7B-8, §55-7B-9, §55-7B-9a, §55-7B-9c, §55-7B-10 and §55-7B-11 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended; and to amend said code by adding thereto two new sections, designated §55-7B-7a and §55-7B-9d, all relating to medical professional liability generally; providing additional legislative findings and purposes related to medical professional liability; amending existing definitions of “collateral source”, “health care”, “health care facility”, “health care provider” and “medical professional liability” and creating a new definition for “related entity” all of which expand the scope of the Medical Professional Liability Act; modifying the qualifications for the competency of experts who testify in medical professional liability actions; providing rebuttable presumptions and evidentiary requirements relating to state and federal reports, disciplinary actions, accreditation reports, assessments and staffing; modifying the maximum amount of recovery for, and availability of, noneconomic damages; clarifying amounts of medical professional liability insurance coverage that must exist to receive noneconomic damages limitations; clarifying that a health care provider is not vicariously liable unless the alleged agent does not maintain certain insurance; clarifying eligibility for, and application of, emergency medical services caps; providing a methodology for determining the amount of trauma care caps to account for inflation; providing certain limitations of verdicts for past medical expenses of the plaintiff; establishing effective date; and providing for severability.

 Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:

            That §55-7B-1, §55-7B-2, §55-7B-7, §55-7B-8, §55-7B-9, §55-7B-9a, §55-7B-9c, §55-7B-10 and §55-7B-11 of the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended and reenacted; and that said code be amended by adding thereto two new sections, designated §55-7B-7a and §55-7B-9d, all to read as follows:

ARTICLE 7B. MEDICAL PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY.

§55-7B-1. Legislative findings and declaration of purpose.

            The Legislature finds and declares that:

             The citizens of this state are entitled to the best medical care and facilities available and that health care providers offer an essential and basic service which requires that the public policy of this state encourage and facilitate the provision of such service to our citizens;

            As in every human endeavor the possibility of injury or death from negligent conduct commands that protection of the public served by health care providers be recognized as an important state interest;

            Our system of litigation is an essential component of this state’s interest in providing adequate and reasonable compensation to those persons who suffer from injury or death as a result of professional negligence, and any limitation placed on this system must be balanced with and considerate of the need to fairly compensate patients who have been injured as a result of negligent and incompetent acts by health care providers;

            Liability insurance is a key part of our system of litigation, affording compensation to the injured while fulfilling the need and fairness of spreading the cost of the risks of injury;

            A further important component of these protections is the capacity and willingness of health care providers to monitor and effectively control their professional competency, so as to protect the public and ensure to the extent possible the highest quality of care;

            It is the duty and responsibility of the Legislature to balance the rights of our individual citizens to adequate and reasonable compensation with the broad public interest in the provision of services by qualified health care providers and health care facilities who can themselves obtain the protection of reasonably priced and extensive liability coverage;

            In recent years, the cost of insurance coverage has risen dramatically while the nature and extent of coverage has diminished, leaving the health care providers, the health care facilities and the injured without the full benefit of professional liability insurance coverage;

            Many of the factors and reasons contributing to the increased cost and diminished availability of professional liability insurance arise from the historic inability of this state to effectively and fairly regulate the insurance industry so as to guarantee our citizens that rates are appropriate, that purchasers of insurance coverage are not treated arbitrarily and that rates reflect the competency and experience of the insured health care providers and health care facilities;

            The unpredictable nature of traumatic injury health care services often results in a greater likelihood of unsatisfactory patient outcomes, a higher degree of patient and patient family dissatisfaction and frequent malpractice claims, creating a financial strain on the trauma care system of our state, increasing costs for all users of the trauma care system and impacting the availability of these services, requires appropriate and balanced limitations on the rights of persons asserting claims against trauma care health care providers, this balance must guarantee availability of trauma care services while mandating that these services meet all national standards of care, to assure that our health care resources are being directed towards providing the best trauma care available;

            The cost of liability insurance coverage has continued to rise dramatically, resulting in the state’s loss and threatened loss of physicians, which, together with other costs and taxation incurred by health care providers in this state, have created a competitive disadvantage in attracting and retaining qualified physicians and other health care providers;

            Medical liability issues have reached critical proportions for the state's long-term health care facilities, as: (1) Medical liability insurance premiums for nursing homes in West Virginia continue to increase and the number of claims per bed has increased significantly; (2) the cost to the state Medicaid program as a result of such higher premiums has grown considerably in this period; (3) current medical liability premium costs for some nursing homes constitute a significant percentage of the amount of coverage; (4) these high costs are leading some facilities to consider dropping medical liability insurance coverage altogether; and (5) the medical liability insurance crisis for nursing homes may soon result in a reduction of the number of beds available to citizens in need of long-term care; and

            The modernization and structure of the health care delivery system necessitate an update of provisions of this article in order to facilitate and continue the objectives of this article which are to control the increase in the cost of liability insurance and to maintain access to affordable health care services for our citizens.

            Therefore, the purpose of this article is to provide a comprehensive resolution of the matters and factors which the Legislature finds must be addressed to accomplish the goals set forth in this section. In so doing, the Legislature has determined that reforms in the common law and statutory rights of our citizens must be enacted together as necessary and mutual ingredients of the appropriate legislative response relating to:

            (1) Compensation for injury and death;

            (2) The regulation of rate making and other practices by the liability insurance industry, including the formation of a physicians’ mutual insurance company and establishment of a fund to assure adequate compensation to victims of malpractice; and

            (3) The authority of medical licensing boards to effectively regulate and discipline the health care providers under such board.

§55-7B-2. Definitions.

            (a) “Board” means the State Board of Risk and Insurance Management.

            (b) “Collateral source” means a source of benefits or advantages for economic loss that the claimant has received from:

            (1) Any federal or state act, public program or insurance which provides payments for medical expenses, disability benefits, including workers’ compensation benefits, or other similar benefits. Benefits payable under the Social Security Act and Medicare are not considered payments from collateral sources except for Social Security disability benefits directly attributable to the medical injury in question;

            (2) Any contract or agreement of any group, organization, partnership or corporation to provide, pay for or reimburse the cost of medical, hospital, dental, nursing, rehabilitation, therapy or other health care services or provide similar benefits, but excluding any amount that a group, organization, partnership, corporation or health care provider agrees to reduce, discount or write off of a medical bill;

            (3) Any group accident, sickness or income disability insurance, any casualty or property insurance, including automobile and homeowners’ insurance, which provides medical benefits, income replacement or disability coverage, or any other similar insurance benefits, except life insurance, to the extent that someone other than the insured, including the insured's employer, has paid all or part of the premium or made an economic contribution on behalf of the plaintiff; or

            (4) Any contractual or voluntary wage continuation plan provided by an employer or otherwise or any other system intended to provide wages during a period of disability.

            (c) “Consumer Price Index” means the most recent Consumer Price Index for All Consumers published by the United States Department of Labor.

            (d) “Emergency condition” means any acute traumatic injury or acute medical condition which, according to standardized criteria for triage, involves a significant risk of death or the precipitation of significant complications or disabilities, impairment of bodily functions or, with respect to a pregnant woman, a significant risk to the health of the unborn child.

            (e) “Health care” means:

            (1) Any act, service or treatment provided under, pursuant to or in the furtherance of a physician's plan of care, a health care facility's plan of care, medical diagnosis or treatment;

            (2) Any act, service or treatment performed or furnished, or which should have been performed or furnished, by any health care provider or person supervised by or acting under the direction of a health care provider or licensed professional for, to or on behalf of a patient during the patient's medical care, treatment or confinement, including, but not limited to, staffing, medical transport, custodial care or basic care, infection control, positioning, hydration, nutrition and similar patient services; and

            (3) The process employed by health care providers and health care facilities for the appointment, employment, contracting, credentialing, privileging and supervision of health care providers.

            (f) “Health care facility” means any clinic, hospital, pharmacy, nursing home, assisted living facility, residential care community, end-stage renal disease facility, home health agency, child welfare agency, group residential facility, behavioral health care facility or comprehensive community mental health center, intellectual/developmental disability center or program, or other ambulatory health care facility, in and licensed, regulated or certified by the state of West Virginia under state or federal law and any state-operated institution or clinic providing health care and any related entity to the health care facility.

            (g) “Health care provider” means a person, partnership, corporation, professional limited liability company, health care facility, entity or institution licensed by, or certified in, this state or another state, to provide health care or professional health care services, including, but not limited to, a physician, osteopathic physician, physician assistant, advanced practice registered nurse, hospital, health care facility, dentist, registered or licensed practical nurse, optometrist, podiatrist, chiropractor, physical therapist, speech-language pathologist and audiologist, occupational therapist, psychologist, pharmacist, technician, certified nursing assistant, emergency medical service personnel, emergency medical services authority or agency, any person supervised by or acting under the direction of a licensed professional, any person taking actions or providing service or treatment pursuant to or in furtherance of a physician's plan of care, a health care facility’s plan of care, medical diagnosis or treatment; or an officer, employee or agent of a health care provider acting in the course and scope of the officer's, employee's or agent's employment.

            (h) “Medical injury” means injury or death to a patient arising or resulting from the rendering of or failure to render health care.

            (i) “Medical professional liability” means any liability for damages resulting from the death or injury of a person for any tort or breach of contract based on health care services rendered, or which should have been rendered, by a health care provider or health care facility to a patient. It also means other claims that may be contemporaneous to or related to the alleged tort or breach of contract or otherwise provided, all in the context of rendering health care services.

            (j) “Medical professional liability insurance” means a contract of insurance or any actuarially sound self-funding program that pays for the legal liability of a health care facility or health care provider arising from a claim of medical professional liability. In order to qualify as medical professional liability insurance for purposes of this article, a self-funding program for an individual physician must meet the requirements and minimum standards set forth in section twelve of this article.

            (k) “Noneconomic loss” means losses, including, but not limited to, pain, suffering, mental anguish and grief.

            (l) “Patient” means a natural person who receives or should have received health care from a licensed health care provider under a contract, expressed or implied.

            (m) “Plaintiff” means a patient or representative of a patient who brings an action for medical professional liability under this article.

            (n) “Related entity” means any corporation, foundation, partnership, joint venture, professional limited liability company, limited liability company, trust, affiliate or other entity under common control or ownership, whether directly or indirectly, partially or completely, legally, beneficially or constructively, with a health care provider or health care facility; or which owns directly, indirectly, beneficially or constructively any part of a health care provider or health care facility.

            (o) “Representative” means the spouse, parent, guardian, trustee, attorney or other legal agent of another.

§55-7B-7. Testimony of expert witness on standard of care.

            (a) The applicable standard of care and a defendant's failure to meet the standard of care, if at issue, shall be established in medical professional liability cases by the plaintiff by testimony of one or more knowledgeable, competent expert witnesses if required by the court. A proposed expert witness may only be found competent to testify if the foundation for his or her testimony is first laid establishing that: (1) The opinion is actually held by the expert witness; (2) the opinion can be testified to with reasonable medical probability; (3) the expert witness possesses professional knowledge and expertise coupled with knowledge of the applicable standard of care to which his or her expert opinion testimony is addressed; (4) the expert witness's opinion is grounded on scientifically valid peer-reviewed studies if available; (5) the expert witness maintains a current license to practice medicine with the appropriate licensing authority of any state of the United States: Provided, That the expert witness’s license has not been revoked or suspended in the past year in any state; and (6) the expert witness is engaged or qualified in a medical field in which the practitioner has experience and/or training in diagnosing or treating injuries or conditions similar to those of the patient. If the witness meets all of these qualifications and devoted, at the time of the medical injury, sixty percent of his or her professional time annually to the active clinical practice in his or her medical field or specialty, or to teaching in his or her medical field or speciality in an accredited university, there shall be a rebuttable presumption that the witness is qualified as an expert. The parties shall have the opportunity to impeach any witness’s qualifications as an expert. Financial records of an expert witness are not discoverable or relevant to prove the amount of time the expert witness spends in active practice or teaching in his or her medical field unless good cause can be shown to the court.

            (b) Nothing contained in this section limits a trial court’s discretion to determine the competency or lack of competency of a witness on a ground not specifically enumerated in this section.

§55-7B-7a. Admissibility and use of certain information.

            (a) In an action brought, there is a rebuttable presumption that the following information may not be introduced unless it applies specifically to the injured person or it involves substantially similar conduct that occurred within one year of the particular incident involved:

            (1) A state or federal survey, audit, review or other report of a health care provider or health care facility;

            (2) Disciplinary actions against a health care provider's license, registration or certification;

            (3) An accreditation report of a health care provider or health care facility; and

            (4) An assessment of a civil or criminal penalty.

            (b) In any action brought, if the health care facility or health care provider demonstrates compliance with the minimum staffing requirements under state law, the health care facility or health care provider is entitled to a rebuttable presumption that appropriate staffing was provided.

            (c) Information under this section may only be introduced in a proceeding if it is otherwise admissible under the West Virginia Rules of Evidence.

§55-7B-8. Limit on liability for noneconomic loss.

            (a) In any professional liability action brought against a health care provider pursuant to this article, the maximum amount recoverable as compensatory damages for noneconomic loss may not exceed $250,000 for each occurrence, regardless of the number of plaintiffs or the number of defendants or, in the case of wrongful death, regardless of the number of distributees, except as provided in subsection (b) of this section.

            (b) The plaintiff may recover compensatory damages for noneconomic loss in excess of the limitation described in subsection (a) of this section, but not in excess of $500,000 for each occurrence, regardless of the number of plaintiffs or the number of defendants or, in the case of wrongful death, regardless of the number of distributees, where the damages for noneconomic losses suffered by the plaintiff were for: (1) Wrongful death; (2) permanent and substantial physical deformity, loss of use of a limb or loss of a bodily organ system; or (3) permanent physical or mental functional injury that permanently prevents the injured person from being able to independently care for himself or herself and perform life-sustaining activities.

            (c) On January 1, 2004, and in each year thereafter, the limitation for compensatory damages contained in subsections (a) and (b) of this section shall increase to account for inflation by an amount equal to the Consumer Price Index published by the United States Department of Labor, not to exceed one hundred fifty percent of the amounts specified in said subsections.   (d) The limitations on noneconomic damages contained in subsections (a), (b), (c) and (e) of this section are not available to any defendant in an action pursuant to this article which does not have medical professional liability insurance in the aggregate amount of at least $1 million for each occurrence covering the medical injury which is the subject of the action.

            (e) If subsection (a) or (b) of this section, as enacted during the 2003 regular session of the Legislature, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance, is found by a court of law to be unconstitutional or otherwise invalid, the maximum amount recoverable as damages for noneconomic loss in a professional liability action brought against a health care provider under this article shall thereafter not exceed $1 million.

§55-7B-9. Several liability.

            (a) In the trial of a medical professional liability action under this article involving multiple defendants, the trier of fact shall report its findings on a form provided by the court which contains each of the possible verdicts as determined by the court. Unless otherwise agreed by all the parties to the action, the jury shall be instructed to answer special interrogatories, or the court, acting without a jury, shall make findings as to:

            (1) The total amount of compensatory damages recoverable by the plaintiff;

            (2) The portion of the damages that represents damages for noneconomic loss;

            (3) The portion of the damages that represents damages for each category of economic loss;

            (4) The percentage of fault, if any, attributable to each plaintiff; and

            (5) The percentage of fault, if any, attributable to each of the defendants.

            (b) In assessing percentages of fault, the trier of fact shall consider only the fault of the parties in the litigation at the time the verdict is rendered and may not consider the fault of any other person who has settled a claim with the plaintiff arising out of the same medical injury: Provided, That, upon the creation of the Patient Injury Compensation Fund provided for in article twelve-c, chapter twenty-nine of this code, or of some other mechanism for compensating a plaintiff for any amount of economic damages awarded by the trier of fact which the plaintiff has been unable to collect, the trier of fact shall, in assessing percentages of fault, consider the fault of all alleged parties, including the fault of any person who has settled a claim with the plaintiff arising out of the same medical injury.

            (c) If the trier of fact renders a verdict for the plaintiff, the court shall enter judgment of several, but not joint, liability against each defendant in accordance with the percentage of fault attributed to the defendant by the trier of fact.

            (d) To determine the amount of judgment to be entered against each defendant, the court shall first, after adjusting the verdict as provided in section nine-a of this article, reduce the adjusted verdict by the amount of any preverdict settlement arising out of the same medical injury. The court shall then, with regard to each defendant, multiply the total amount of damages remaining, with interest, by the percentage of fault attributed to each defendant by the trier of fact. The resulting amount of damages, together with any post-judgment interest accrued, shall be the maximum recoverable against the defendant.

            (e) Upon the creation of the Patient Injury Compensation Fund provided for in article twelve-c, chapter twenty-nine of this code, or of some other mechanism for compensating a plaintiff for any amount of economic damages awarded by the trier of fact which the plaintiff has been unable to collect, the court shall, in determining the amount of judgment to be entered against each defendant, first multiply the total amount of damages, with interest, recoverable by the plaintiff by the percentage of each defendant’s fault and that amount, together with any post-judgment interest accrued, is the maximum recoverable against said defendant. Prior to the court’s entry of the final judgment order as to each defendant against whom a verdict was rendered, the court shall reduce the total jury verdict by any amounts received by a plaintiff in settlement of the action. When any defendant’s percentage of the verdict exceeds the remaining amounts due the plaintiff after the mandatory reductions, each defendant shall be liable only for the defendant’s pro rata share of the remainder of the verdict as calculated by the court from the remaining defendants to the action. The plaintiff’s total award may never exceed the jury’s verdict less any statutory or court-ordered reductions.

            (f) Nothing in this section is meant to eliminate or diminish any defenses or immunities which exist as of the effective date of this section, except as expressly noted in this section.

            (g) Nothing in this article is meant to preclude a health care provider from being held responsible for the portion of fault attributed by the trier of fact to any person acting as the health care provider’s agent or servant or to preclude imposition of fault otherwise imputable or attributable to the health care provider under claims of vicarious liability. A health care provider may not be held vicariously liable for the acts of a nonemployee pursuant to a theory of ostensible agency unless the alleged agent does not maintain professional liability insurance covering the medical injury which is the subject of the action in the aggregate amount of at least $1 million for each occurrence.

§55-7B-9a. Reduction in compensatory damages for economic losses for payments from collateral sources for the same injury.

            (a) In any action arising after the effective date of this section, a defendant who has been found liable to the plaintiff for damages for medical care, rehabilitation services, lost earnings or other economic losses may present to the court, after the trier of fact has rendered a verdict, but before entry of judgment, evidence of payments the plaintiff has received for the same injury from collateral sources.

            (b) In a hearing held pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the defendant may present evidence of future payments from collateral sources if the court determines that:

            (1) There is a preexisting contractual or statutory obligation on the collateral source to pay the benefits;

            (2) The benefits, to a reasonable degree of certainty, will be paid to the plaintiff for expenses the trier of fact has determined the plaintiff will incur in the future; and

            (3) The amount of the future expenses is readily reducible to a sum certain.

            (c) In a hearing held pursuant to subsection (a) of this section, the plaintiff may present evidence of the value of payments or contributions he or she has made to secure the right to the benefits paid by the collateral source.

            (d) After hearing the evidence presented by the parties, the court shall make the following findings of fact:

            (1) The total amount of damages for economic loss found by the trier of fact;

            (2) The total amount of damages for each category of economic loss found by the trier of fact;

            (3) The total amount of allowable collateral source payments received or to be received by the plaintiff for the medical injury which was the subject of the verdict in each category of economic loss; and

            (4) The total amount of any premiums or contributions paid by the plaintiff in exchange for the collateral source payments in each category of economic loss found by the trier of fact.

            (e) The court shall subtract the total premiums the plaintiff was found to have paid in each category of economic loss from the total collateral source benefits the plaintiff received with regard to that category of economic loss to arrive at the net amount of collateral source payments.

            (f) The court shall then subtract the net amount of collateral source payments received or to be received by the plaintiff in each category of economic loss from the total amount of damages awarded the plaintiff by the trier of fact for that category of economic loss to arrive at the adjusted verdict.

            (g) The court may not reduce the verdict rendered by the trier of fact in any category of economic loss to reflect:

            (1) Amounts paid to or on behalf of the plaintiff which the collateral source has a right to recover from the plaintiff through subrogation, lien or reimbursement;

            (2) Amounts in excess of benefits actually paid or to be paid on behalf of the plaintiff by a collateral source in a category of economic loss;

            (3) The proceeds of any individual disability or income replacement insurance paid for entirely by the plaintiff;

            (4) The assets of the plaintiff or the members of the plaintiff’s immediate family; or

            (5) A settlement between the plaintiff and another tortfeasor.

            (h) After determining the amount of the adjusted verdict, the court shall enter judgment in accordance with the provisions of section nine of this article.

§55-7B-9c. Limit on liability for treatment of emergency conditions for which patient is admitted to a designated trauma center; exceptions; emergency rules.

            (a) In any action brought under this article for injury to or death of a patient as a result of health care services or assistance rendered in good faith and necessitated by an emergency condition for which the patient enters a health care facility designated by the Office of Emergency Medical Services as a trauma center, including health care services or assistance rendered in good faith by a licensed emergency medical services authority or agency, certified emergency medical service personnel or an employee of a licensed emergency medical services authority or agency, the total amount of civil damages recoverable may not exceed $500,000 for each occurrence, exclusive of interest computed from the date of judgment, and regardless of the number of plaintiffs or the number of defendants or, in the case of wrongful death, regardless of the number of distributees.

            (b) The limitation of liability in subsection (a) of this section also applies to any act or omission of a health care provider in rendering continued care or assistance in the event that surgery is required as a result of the emergency condition within a reasonable time after the patient’s condition is stabilized.

            (c) The limitation on liability provided under subsection (a) of this section does not apply to any act or omission in rendering care or assistance which:

            (1) Occurs after the patient’s condition is stabilized and the patient is capable of receiving medical treatment as a nonemergency patient; or

            (2) Is unrelated to the original emergency condition.

            (d) In the event that: (1) A physician provides follow-up care to a patient to whom the physician rendered care or assistance pursuant to subsection (a) of this section; and (2) a medical condition arises during the course of the follow-up care that is directly related to the original emergency condition for which care or assistance was rendered pursuant to said subsection, there is rebuttable presumption that the medical condition was the result of the original emergency condition and that the limitation on liability provided by said subsection applies with respect to that medical condition.

            (e) There is a rebuttable presumption that a medical condition which arises in the course of follow-up care provided by the designated trauma center health care provider who rendered good faith care or assistance for the original emergency condition is directly related to the original emergency condition where the follow-up care is provided within a reasonable time after the patient’s admission to the designated trauma center.

            (f) The limitation on liability provided under subsection (a) of this section does not apply where health care or assistance for the emergency condition is rendered:

            (1) In willful and wanton or reckless disregard of a risk of harm to the patient; or

            (2) In clear violation of established written protocols for triage and emergency health care procedures developed by the Office of Emergency Medical Services in accordance with subsection (e) of this section. In the event that the Office of Emergency Medical Services has not developed a written triage or emergency medical protocol by the effective date of this section, the limitation on liability provided under subsection (a) of this section does not apply where health care or assistance is rendered under this section in violation of nationally recognized standards for triage and emergency health care procedures.

            (g) The Office of Emergency Medical Services shall, prior to the effective date of this section, develop a written protocol specifying recognized and accepted standards for triage and emergency health care procedures for treatment of emergency conditions necessitating admission of the patient to a designated trauma center.

            (h) In its discretion, the Office of Emergency Medical Services may grant provisional trauma center status for a period of up to one year to a health care facility applying for designated trauma center status. A facility given provisional trauma center status is eligible for the limitation on liability provided in subsection (a) of this section. If, at the end of the provisional period, the facility has not been approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services as a designated trauma center, the facility is no longer eligible for the limitation on liability provided in subsection (a) of this section.

            (i) The Commissioner of the Bureau for Public Health may grant an applicant for designated trauma center status a one-time only extension of provisional trauma center status, upon submission by the facility of a written request for extension, accompanied by a detailed explanation and plan of action to fulfill the requirements for a designated trauma center. If, at the end of the six-month period, the facility has not been approved by the Office of Emergency Medical Services as a designated trauma center, the facility no longer has the protection of the limitation on liability provided in subsection (a) of this section.

            (j) If the Office of Emergency Medical Services determines that a health care facility no longer meets the requirements for a designated trauma center, it shall revoke the designation, at which time the limitation on liability established by subsection (a) of this section ceases to apply to that health care facility for services or treatment rendered thereafter.

            (k) The Legislature hereby finds that an emergency exists compelling promulgation of an emergency rule, consistent with the provisions of this section, governing the criteria for designation of a facility as a trauma center or provisional trauma center and implementation of a statewide trauma/emergency care system. The Legislature therefore directs the Secretary of the Department of Health and Human Resources to file, on or before July 1, 2003, emergency rules specifying the criteria for designation of a facility as a trauma center or provisional trauma center in accordance with nationally accepted and recognized standards and governing the implementation of a statewide trauma/emergency care system. The rules governing the statewide trauma/emergency care system shall include, but not be limited to:

            (1) System design, organizational structure and operation, including integration with the existing emergency medical services system;

            (2) Regulation of facility designation, categorization and credentialing, including the establishment and collection of reasonable fees for designation; and

            (3) System accountability, including medical review and audit to assure system quality. Any medical review committees established to assure system quality shall include all levels of care, including emergency medical service providers, and both the review committees and the providers shall qualify for all the rights and protections established in article three-c, chapter thirty of this code.

            (l) On January 1, 2016, and in each year after that, the limitation for civil damages contained in subsection (a) of this section shall increase to account for inflation by an amount equal to the Consumer Price Index published by the United States Department of Labor, not to exceed one hundred fifty percent of said subsection.

§55-7B-9d. Adjustment of verdict for past medical expenses.

             A verdict for past medical expenses is limited to:

            (1) The total amount of past medical expenses paid by or on behalf of the plaintiff; and

            (2) The total amount of past medical expenses incurred but not paid by or on behalf of the plaintiff for which the plaintiff or another person on behalf of the plaintiff is obligated to pay.

§55-7B-10. Effective date; applicability of provisions.

            (a) The provisions of House Bill 149, enacted during the first extraordinary session of the Legislature, 1986, shall be effective at the same time that the provisions of Enrolled Senate Bill 714, enacted during the regular session, 1986, become effective, and the provisions of said House Bill 149 shall be deemed to amend the provisions of Enrolled Senate Bill 714. The provisions of this article shall not apply to injuries which occur before the effective date of this said Enrolled Senate Bill 714.

            The amendments to this article as provided in House Bill 601, enacted during the sixth extraordinary session of the Legislature, 2001, apply to all causes of action alleging medical professional liability which are filed on or after March 1, 2002.

            The amendments to this article provided in Enrolled Committee Substitute for House Bill No. 2122 during the regular session of the Legislature, 2003, apply to all causes of action alleging medical professional liability which are filed on or after July 1, 2003.

            (b) The amendments to this article provided in Enrolled Committee Substitute for Senate Bill No. 6 during the regular session of the Legislature, 2015, apply to all causes of action alleging medical professional liability which are filed on or after July 1, 2015.

§55-7B-11. Severability.

            (a) If any provision of this article as enacted during the first extraordinary session of the Legislature, 1986, in House Bill 149, or as enacted during the regular session of the Legislature, 1986, in Senate Bill 714, or as enacted during the regular session of the Legislature, 2015, or the application thereof to any person or circumstance is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this article, and to this end, the provisions of this article are declared to be severable.

            (b) If any provision of the amendments to section five of this article, any provision of section six-d of this article or any provision of the amendments to section eleven, article six, chapter fifty-six of this code as provided in House Bill 601, enacted during the sixth extraordinary session of the Legislature, 2001, is held invalid, or the application thereof to any person is held invalid, then, notwithstanding any other provision of law, every other provision of said House Bill 601 shall be deemed invalid and of no further force and effect.

            (c) If any provision of the amendments to section six or ten of this article or any provision of section six-a, six-b or six-c of this article as provided in House Bill 60l, enacted during the sixth extraordinary session of the Legislature, 2001, is held invalid, the invalidity does not affect other provisions or applications of this article, and to this end, such provisions are deemed severable.

feedback