Americans for Democratic Action • Center for Medical Consumers •
The Children's Foundation • Consumer Project on Technology •
Consumer's Union • Families USA • Gray Panthers • Public Citizen • National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys •
National Priorities Project • National Women's Health Network • US PIRG

Please Oppose H.R. 5
Medical Malpractice Legislation Puts Patient Safety at Risk

March 11, 2003

Dear Representative:

We write in strong opposition to H.R. 5, legislation that would severely limit the rights of victims of medical negligence to hold health care providers responsible for causing harm. Congress should enact measures providing strong patient safety and quality health care standards. This bill would erode patient safety – not only by limiting doctors’ liability when they injure or kill patients but by limiting the liability of hospitals, nursing homes, HMOs and even drug and medical device companies involved in health care liability claims.

There are numerous draconian anti-patient and anti-consumer provisions in H.R. 5. Four of the most problematic are:

The bill’s supporters would have you believe that increasing malpractice insurance rates are caused by an increased number of lawsuits and higher damages awards. The real causes are primarily due to the underlying economics of the insurance industry rather – not a surge in lawsuits, which has not occurred.

It would be a terrible injustice to reduce the rights of medical malpractice victims to seek fair compensation and hold wrongdoers accountable. There is a more permanent malpractice "crisis" in this country, but it is an epidemic of careless medicine, not an epidemic of excessive litigation. As the Institute of Medicine found, at least 44,000 and perhaps as many as 98,000 Americans die in hospitals each year as a result of medical errors. Many more are injured and have their lives shattered.

Again, we ask you to vote against H.R. 5.

Sincerely,

Americans for Democratic Action
Center for Medical Consumers
The Children's Foundation
Consumer Project on Technology
Consumer's Union
Families USA
Gray Panthers
Public Citizen
National Academy of Elder Law Attorneys
National Priorities Project
National Women's Health Network
US PIRG