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Doctors, Trial Lawyers Back 'Provider Shield' Law in GA

John Commins, for HealthLeaders Media, May 8, 2013

"These guidelines, including factors like healthcare quality measures and payment adjustments and value-based payment modifiers, don't have any direct ties to the medical profession in Georgia," Bohlke said in prepared remarks. "These are simply cost management tools for the federal government and other third-party payers."

The shield law is being touted as the first in the nation and is based on model legislation crafted by the American Medical Association's Advocacy Resource Center.

AMA board member Patrice A. Harris, MD, said the law "makes it clear that federal standards or guidelines designed to enhance access to high-quality healthcare cannot be used to invent new legal actions against physicians."

"The decisive action of Georgia lawmakers holds the line against medical liability abuse and helps avert more civil actions against physicians, which increase medical liability insurance premiums and reduce access to health care for Georgia's patients," Harris said in prepared remarks.

Under the shield, evidence related to government and private payer guidelines won't be admissible in court, can't be used as the standard of care, and can't be used as a presumption of negligence in any malpractice lawsuit.

Clark says trial lawyers were "glad to partner" with physicians in support the bill because the protections it extends against malpractice suits are limited and should not affect patient safety.

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