Medical Malpractice Bill Approved by New York Senate Judiciary Committee

The New York Senate Judiciary Committee has approved a bill which would prohibit physicians and other medical malpractice defendants from interviewing a plaintiff’s non-party, later-treating doctors in private. Senate Bill 3296-A is designed to overturn the 2007 New York Court of Appeals decision in Arons v. Jutkowitz that said a defendant in a malpractice lawsuit may interview a plaintiff’s physicians so long as federal Health Insurance Portability and Accountability Act (HIPAA) requirements are met. HIPAA requires a defendant to obtain consent from a plaintiff prior to interviewing a non-party doctor. The Judiciary Committee approved the proposed law with a 21-2 vote.

According to Senate Judiciary Committee Chair, John Bonacic, the holding in the Arons case “usurped the legislature’s authority.” In 2007, Judge Eugene Pigott expressed a similar sentiment in his dissent from the majority holding in the case. Joshua Cohen, President of the New York Medical Defense Bar Association, believes the proposed law is unfair to defendants. He argues private interviews are necessary in order to determine whether a plaintiff’s purported injuries are the result of a pre-existing condition. The bill’s sponsor, Republican Senator John DeFrancisco of Syracuse, has stated the legislation is fair as it protects a defendant’s right to question physicians at depositions.

The Greater New York Hospital Association strongly opposes Senate Bill 3296-A. The Association has alleged the new law would raise malpractice insurance premiums by as much as 6 percent or $96 million. In response, Senator DeFrancisco has stated it would be impossible to predict whether the bill would have any monetary impact or what that impact might be. An identical Assembly Bill 694-A was also introduced this year by Democrat Rory Lancman of Queens. The Assembly previously passed the measure on multiple occasions, including last year when the proposed law died in the state Senate.

Medical malpractice occurs when a doctor, surgeon, hospital, or other medical provider renders services that fall short of the local standard of care. Health care providers must exercise reasonable care in accordance with the prescribed standard of care for their profession. If a medical provider deviates from the accepted local standard of care, then he or she may be liable for any resulting injuries. Unfortunately, mistakes that could adversely affect an individual’s quality of life are sometimes made. If you were injured by a medical professional, a qualified medical malpractice lawyer can evaluate your claim and help to protect your rights.

The Law Office of Mark A. Siesel represents individuals who were hurt due to a doctor or other medical provider’s malpractice. If you or a loved one was injured due to a medical professional’s mistake, contact experienced White Plains medical malpractice attorney Mark A. Siesel. He represents New York clients who were harmed by a delayed or missed diagnosis, surgical injuries, patient neglect, improper pharmaceutical prescriptions, unreasonable conduct, and other medical malpractice claims. To schedule a free initial consultation, contact Mark A. Siesel through his website or call him toll free today at (888) 761-7633.

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Additional Resources:

Medical malpractice bill advances in NY legislature, by Dan Wiessner, Thomson Reuters