Anti-Patient Bill Fails In Virginia General Assembly Subcommittee

Victims of medical malpractice gained an important verdict this month when an anti-patient bill failed to garner any support in the House Civil Law Subcommittee of the Virginia General Assembly.  House Bill No. 306 sought to create a pilot program to assess the creation of disclosure programs in health care facilities that were designed to encourage the disclosure of adverse medical outcomes between health care providers and patients.

At first glance, many of us would concede that a bill that aims to encourage the disclosure of adverse medical outcomes is worthy.  After all, patients deserve to learn the reasons why an adverse medical outcome occurred, and the therapeutic relationship between a health care provider and patient can sometimes be preserved or even enhanced with frank discussions of what went wrong.  It is fair to say that no one objects to legislation that is aimed at increasing the opportunity of frank discussions.

House Bill No. 306 went a step farther than simply encouraging frank discussions, however.  The proposed legislation contained a very dangerous provision that would have effectively eviscerated patient's rights.  This provision stated as follows:

"The following shall be privileged and inadmissible in a civil action, administrative action, or arbitration arising from an adverse medical outcome: (i) an offer to participate in a disclosure program or actual participation therein; (ii) a disclosure made as part of a disclosure program; and (iii) an offer of resolution, including compensation, made during a disclosure program."

The danger behind this provision, and subsection (ii) in particular, is that any disclosure of facts made by a health care provider in the course of the disclosure program would be inadmissible at trial.  Taken literally, that would have meant that if a health care provider reported facts about what happened that caused a patient an injury, those facts would be inadmissible at trial.  These facts would be inadmissible even if those facts were contained in the patient's medical record, even if another witness had knowledge of those facts, or even if the patient's attorney would have discovered those facts during the normal course of a lawsuit.  In effect, if a lawsuit ever ensued following the type of disclosures protected by this legislation, then patient and the patient's attorney would be precluded from telling a jury about basic, fundamental facts about the case.  

The House Civil Law Subcommittee understood the dangers of House Bill No. 306.  As a result, no member of the Subcommittee even made a motion to vote on the Bill.  The end result was a win for patient rights.

The Shevlin smith difference

  • Serving Virginia & D.C. Since 1986

    Our firm has earned a reputation as a top personal injury and medical malpractice firm. We have the ability to give your case the representation and attention it needs and deserves.

  • Trial-Tested Attorneys

    We believe the fight isn’t over until you are fully satisfied. While we always strive to resolve our clients’ cases, we are prepared to pursue litigation if necessary.

  • Honest & Personalized Attention

    From the moment you call us, our team provides you with a straightforward and personalized assessment that focuses on the unique details of your case.

  • Experienced & Dedicated Counsel

    Shevlin Smith has over 130 years of combined legal experience and we have the tools and resources to effectively advocate on your behalf.

Experience Matters. 
Rely On Ours.

Free & Confidential Consultation
  • Please enter your first name.
  • Please enter your last name.
  • Please enter your phone number.
    This isn't a valid phone number.
  • Please enter your email address.
    This isn't a valid email address.
  • Please make a selection.
  • Please enter a message.