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Oregon House Passes Medical Malpractice Mediation Legislation

Sunday, March, 17, 2013


The Oregon House of Representatives has recently passed Senate Bill 483, a bill that encourages mediation for claims involving medical errors and malpractice in the State of Oregon.  In a 55-1 vote, Rep. Gene Whisnant, a Republican from the Sunriver district, was the only representative to cast a negative vote against the bill.  Now, Gov. John Kitzhaber will need to sign the bill into law before it is an official part of the state’s legislation.   

Kitzhaber played a large role in creating the bill to deal with the state’s increasingly prevalent medical malpractice lawsuits, and it was quickly passed through the Oregon Senate in early March by a 26-3 vote.  It is assumed by most that Gov. John Kitzhaber will pass the bill without further delay. 

Senate Bill 483 allows patients and health care providers or facilities to conduct negotiations before filing a lawsuit.  Its purpose is to reduce the significant number of medical malpractice claims that have swept the state, many of which congest court dockets.  Although it will cost the State of Oregon approximately $1.6 million within the next two years, the bill is expected to address the state’s influx of often-frivolous medical malpractice claims.  

However, experts who are against the bill claim that it doesn’t go far enough to fix the problem.  They also claim that Kitzhaber promised that it would adequately address the issue and the bill is a far cry from doing so.   Yet, the legislation’s proponents include doctors and trial lawyers, offering some promise that the bill will meet the state’s need for decreased medical malpractice lawsuits. 

Despite the bill’s detractors, Gov. Kitzhaber has high hopes for the success of the legislation for the state. “I committed last year to bring a proposal to the Legislature to ensure that our medical liability system fits within our shared vision of health system transformation," he said, "and I appreciate the Legislature supporting this effort."