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Can efforts to limit medical malpractice records harm patients?

The vast majority of medical providers place the health and safety of their patients above all other concerns. In spite of their best intentions, though, some patients will suffer greater harm as a result of mistakes or negligence. In these situations, Arizona residents are assured of their rights to seek a remedy for the harm they have suffered through a medical malpractice suit.

There are now efforts under way in one state that may directly impact how injured patients are permitted to seek their own compensation when a medical provider has caused them to suffer physical harm, and the resulting monetary damages that stem from it. Approximately 13 years ago, several amendments were passed in that state that allowed patients and their representatives to access adverse incident reports that related to their individual case. Recently, the state supreme court has upheld patients' access to adverse patient information that pertains to the doctor or provider involved.

Now, there are efforts underway to attempt to limit the information that is open to the discovery process. Those who are behind the proposed amendment state that it is not their intention to refuse patients' rights to pertinent information but rather to help protect the work product that is shared between physicians and their representatives. Others who are opposed to the amendment claim that the change would handicap patients' ability to gather all relevant information in order to pursue their claim and protect other patients from allegedly negligent providers.

It is unclear at this time whether the committee responsible for selecting proposed amendments will choose this issue for voters to consider in the 2018 elections. Voters overwhelmingly approved the measures several years ago that protected patients' rights. Those who desire the change claim that there has been an increase in the number of medical malpractice claims that have been filed since the changes were made to the laws. At this time, there has been no public effort to revise the laws that apply to Arizona residents' rights to seek just compensation in the event they have suffered harm due to insufficient or inappropriate care. Those who have been victims of alleged malpractice may be entitled to pursue a claim for recompense for the monetary damages they may have also sustained.

Source: gainesville.com, "Medical malpractice records battle brews", Christine Sexton, Nov. 27, 2017

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