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Legislature Passes New Approach to Tort Reform

Mar. 11, 2010

SALT LAKE CITY - In a groundbreaking effort to achieve tort reform in Utah, the Legislature have given its final approval to HB408 and a companion resolution, HJR 34.
An initiative of Governor Herbert and the Health Care Reform Task Force, HB408, "Hospital Claims Management," creates voluntary demonstration projects designed to bring patients and providers together when there has been adverse medical outcome.
"This bill brings Utah closer to a more proactive and sensible approach to resolving these types of disputes," Lt. Governor Greg Bell said. "In the long run, this will reduce costs and create an atmosphere of conciliation and settlement without the need for protracted litigation and hard feelings between patients and medical providers."
Sponsored by Rep. Brad Last, the goal of HB408 is to create an atmosphere where an honest and frank approach to claims resolution can occur without the traditional "deny and defend" reaction when there has been an adverse medical outcome.
HJR34, also sponsored by Rep. Last, amends the state's rules of evidence to allow medical providers to offer explanations and sympathy toward an injured patient without fear of having those statements being used against them in future legal actions.
John T. Nielsen, Senior Advisor to the Governor on Health System Reform lauded the passage of the two pieces of legislation. "This principle-driven approach will benefit Utah patients and medical providers, and is long overdue. I believe, in time, this will become the new standard for resolving medical malpractice claims."
The two pieces of legislation are based on a successful program developed at the University of Michigan Health System.