Take Action – Missouri Legislature

Take Action – Missouri Legislature

Periodically we let you know the progress of various proposed legislation making its way through the Missouri General Assembly and suggest ways for you to contribute your viewpoint to your state Representative and state Senator.

You can find your Representative and Senator, and their contact information, by entering your 9-digit zip code here.

This time, we’d like to discuss House Bill HB118 and Senate Bill SB239. Often, the same (or similar) bills are introduced simultaneously in the House and in the Senate. These two bills address the same issue. The apparent problem these bills are attempting to resolve relates to the fact that English common law, rather than Missouri Statute, rules claims for damages arising out of the rendering of or failure to render health care services by a health care provider, which can lead to claims for very large sums of money. The proposed legislation places limits on such claims.

Basically, someone can claim that a “health care provider failed to use that degree of skill and learning ordinarily used under the same or similar circumstances by members of the defendant’s profession and that such failure directly caused or contributed to cause the plaintiff’s injury or death.”

This is often called a “standard of care”. All too often, however, when it comes to psychiatric treatment, the standard of care is “she’s depressed and she has Medicare.” This so-called standard of care is often being dictated by the pharmaceutical industry and the insurance industry, rather than competent and knowledgeable (non-psychiatric) physicians and health care providers.

We do understand the problem this legislation is trying to fix. Claims for damages can be out of line with reality, leading to a greedy and litigious justice system. Placing a Statute on the matter, with limits on damages, is an attempt to resolve this.

Here’s the HOWEVER. Psychiatric “treatments” are inherently damaging. Psychiatric drugs are inherently damaging. The psychiatric “standard of care” is psychiatric drugs. Therefore, suing a doctor for damages who failed to follow the psychiatric profession’s standard of care by not prescribing psychiatric drugs, thus claiming that damage to the patient was caused by not prescribing psychiatric drugs — well, we trust you get the point. This legislation places an undeserved degree of legal legitimacy on the prescription of psychiatric drugs and other psychiatric treatments, just because all the psychiatrists do it.

The psychiatric “standard of care” in this case is itself damaging. We’ll be suing doctors for doing the right thing!

It’s not that the proposed legislation is bad — it’s that it doesn’t really address the correct issue. A better focus point would be, did the patient provide fully informed consent to the treatment? Did the doctor provide full disclosure of both benefit and harm of the treatment to the patient?

Contact your Missouri state Representative and Senator, and let them know what you think about this. An amendment to the proposed legislation might help — such as, this law does not apply to electroshock, psycho-surgery, and psychiatric drugs, since they are all inherently damaging to patients and should not be held as standards of care.

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