Legislative Alert:Trial Lawyer Lobby Seeks to Overturn Highest Court and Ban Interviews of Later Treating Physicians

Consider for a moment that you are a doctor who has been accused of medical malpractice (and since many members of the medical community read the LRANY blog, maybe you are).  The patient who is accusing you of malpractice was seen by another nearby doctor after the alleged incident, and you know that later-treating doctor said the patient was fine, no sign of the alleged injury.  Well, the later treating doctor would be a good guy to talk to about the malpractice allegation, right?

Absolutely, but a new law proposed in the New York legislature seeks to say, “Tough luck.  Informal interviews are not allowed.” The legislation seeks to overturn a 2007 ruling by New York’s highest court, which ruled that such interviews, while they cannot be compelled, are allowed, just as they are in nearly every other part of our justice system.  But the Trial Bar wants to limit that right and limit the ability of medical defendants to gather information.

The issue is called “Ex Parte Interview” and it may sounds like an esoteric, minor change to the law, but that is precisely why it is dangerous.  It passed the New York Assembly last year and is on the agenda in the Senate Judiciary Committee right now.  Both of the primary sponsors are personal injury lawyers.

This small change is estimated to increase malpractice coverage costs by 5% or $80m a year at a time when the state is desperately looking to reduce such costs.  It’s seemingly innocuous, which is why the Trial bar has had success in the past, but we need people like you to let their legislators know that they oppose limiting doctor’s right to gather information and oppose further raising our state’s out of control medical costs.

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