February 2014.2 The bill combined elements of both safe harbors
and pretrial screening panels. 3 The ACS supported the legislation
as a means of increasing bipartisan support for alternative reforms
and has had ongoing conversations with the bill’s sponsors to help
refine the legislation before it is reintroduced in the 114th Congress.
While certain reform proposals may seem more likely than others to achieve federal enactment, it is clear that the ACS should continue to support a variety of approaches. For example, traditional
tort reform, recently “rescored” by the Congressional Budget Office
to save the federal government as much as $70 billion over 10 years,
must remain an area of continued interest. 4 In addition, targeted
reforms, such as Good Samaritan protections for physicians who
volunteer across state lines or provide care mandated under the
federal Emergency Medical Treatment and Active Labor Act should
continue to be discussed.
More to come
The Surgeons and Medical Liability: A Guide to Understanding Medical
Liability Reform primer and the ACS position statement represent
two new tools that the College has developed to assist staff and Fellows as they advocate to improve the medical liability environment.
We anticipate that they will serve as a spark to reignite efforts to
improve fairness and efficiency in the liability system for physicians
and patients alike. The primer is available at www.facs.org/advocacy/
The Legislative Committee will continue to address the issue
of medical liability reform and will provide additional resources to
Fellows in the coming months. Specifically, the committee plans
to publish a practical guide for Fellows on medical liability issues.
Topics that will be covered include how to avoid litigation, navigation of the pre-trial and discovery phase of a lawsuit, and what to
expect in trial proceedings. At press time, this document was still
in development and will require extensive legal review before it is
ready for release to Fellows. ♦
1. American College of Surgeons. Special
issue: New approaches to liability reform.
March 2013. Available at: http://bulletin.
facs.org/2013/03/. Accessed January 14,
2. Library of Congress. Summary of H.R.
4106. Available at: www.congress.gov/
January 7, 2015.
3. Congressman Andy Barr. H.R. 4106, The
Saving Lives, Saving Costs Act. Available
One%20Pager.pdf. Accessed January 7,
4. Congressional Budget Office. Options for
reducing the deficit: 2015 to 2024. Available
pdf. Accessed January 7, 2015.
MERITS AND VIABILITY OF EXISTING SYSTEM, TORT REFORM, AND ALTERNATIVES
Cost control X
Just culture X
Patient safety X
Requires culture change
= Reform improves the situation or is consistent with, or meets, a given criteria
X = Indicates a failure of the current system
Blank space indicates no direct or insufficient/inconclusive data