Legislature(1995 - 1996)

1996-02-02 House Journal

Full Journal pdf

1996-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2604
HB 461                                                                       
HOUSE BILL NO. 461 by the House Rules Committee by request of                  
the Governor, entitled:                                                        
An Act relating to expert advisory panels in medical malpractice              
litigation and the definition of health care provider for medical              
was read the first time and referred to the Health, Education & Social         
Services, Labor & Commerce, State Affairs and Finance Committees.              
The following fiscal notes apply:                                              
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Commerce & Economic Development, 2/2/96             
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Corrections, 2/2/96                                 
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Health & Social Services, 2/2/96                    
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Law, 2/2/96                                         
Zero fiscal note, Dept. of Public Safety, 2/2/96                               
The Governor's transmittal letter, dated February 1, 1996, appears             
Dear Speaker Phillips:                                                         
Under the authority of art. III, sec. 18, of the Alaska Constitution, I am     
transmitting a bill relating to expert advisory panels in medical              
malpractice actions and the definition of health care provider in those        
actions.  The intent of this proposal is to promote faster and, therefore,     
less costly resolution of medical malpractice cases by ensuring that           

1996-02-02                     House Journal                      Page 2605
HB 461                                                                       
expert advisory panels can be appointed to review cases regardless of          
whether the parties or providers are in the public or private sector.          
Current state law requires the courts to appoint an expert advisory            
panel in medical malpractice cases brought against a private party,            
unless the court decides that a panel is unnecessary.  In most medical         
malpractice cases involving the state, courts have appointed an expert         
panel to help determine fault.  But in at least one instance, a court          
concluded that an expert panel was not available in a case against the         
state.  There have been other cases in which the argument has been             
raised and rejected.                                                           
Expert advisory panels for medical malpractice cases are comprised of          
three medical professionals or specialists.  They review the                   
professional services at issue, consider specific questions set out in         
statute and issue a report.  The report may be used as evidence in the         
malpractice litigation and often leads to settlement of the case, instead      
of a drawn out, costly court battle.  It makes no sense to clearly allow       
private providers access to an expert panel, and deny that access to           
government defendants.                                                         
This bill also adds certain professionals to the definition of health care     
providers for purposes of medical malpractice actions -- specifically          
osteopaths, physician assistants, mobile intensive care paramedics and         
emergency medical technicians.  By omitting these health care                  
professionals from the list of providers that can have access to an            
expert advisory panel, they are denied the benefits of such review in          
court cases for no good reason.                                                
This bill is intended to help ease the flow of medical malpractice cases       
through the court system by giving more equal treatment to health care         
providers.  I urge your support of this legislation.                           
							Tony Knowles