The Ohio House of Representatives late last week passed by a 92 to 2 margin a medical malpractice reform bill, its second in two years.
The bill was introduced into the Ohio Senate today, where it is expected to be favorably received.
"Both of our chambers are strongly Republican," said Ohio Hospital Association spokeswoman Mary Yost. "And there are no major roadblocks in the Senate, so we expect they will view it favorably and send it to the governor for his signature soon."
Yost said the bill includes several provisions to reduce the number of frivolous lawsuits. Those include the prohibition of using expressions of sympathy or condolence by hospital staff or doctors as evidence in a malpractice suit and a requirement that expert witnesses in malpractice trials belong to the same medical specialty as the practitioner charged.
In addition, the bill authorizes the Ohio Department of Insurance to collect data on malpractice judgments and settlements.
Removed from the bill were earlier provisions to establish medical review panels and a request that the state supreme court establish a medical claims court.
Another bill in the legislative pipeline would, if passed, create a patient compensation fund to pay catastrophic judgments and settlements.
In 2003, the General Assembly passed a bill establishing a cap on non-economic damages.
Yost said in the past comprehensive medical malpractice reform bills have been ruled unconstitutional by the state supreme court, so legislators have adopted a piecemeal, incremental approach to torte reform in that state.