HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES

H.B. NO.

669

THIRTIETH LEGISLATURE, 2019

 

STATE OF HAWAII

 

 

 

 

 

 

A BILL FOR AN ACT

 

 

relating to medical malpractice.

 

 

BE IT ENACTED BY THE LEGISLATURE OF THE STATE OF HAWAII:

 


SECTION 1. The legislature finds that Hawaii is facing a critical physician shortage. According to the 2018 report from the Hawaii Physician Workforce Assessment Project, the State is facing a statewide shortage of seven hundred ninety-seven physicians, with the largest shortage of two hundred sixty-three physicians found in the area of primary care. This shortfall is projected to worsen with the increased demand for health care from an aging population and the retirement of an aging physician population, with particular access to care issues in rural areas of Oahu and on the neighbor islands. Even with team-based care practices using other health care providers to help deliver primary care, physicians trained in primary care will be needed to help coordinate services and appropriate care referrals. The need to educate and train, as well as retain, more doctors to care for the State's residents is a critical key component to meeting the ongoing health care needs of Hawaii's communities.

Many Hawaii citizens are unable to obtain timely and appropriate health care due to shortages of primary health care providers in the State. These shortages threaten individual health and cumulatively affect the State's health care costs. A significant barrier to increasing the pool of health care providers is the exposure of post-graduate medical or resident physicians to medical malpractice litigation. Resident physicians are graduates of medical school who are pursuing postgraduate residencies or fellowships to become specialists in areas including family medicine, pediatrics, surgery, or psychiatry.

The increasing frequency at which resident physicians are named as parties in lawsuits alleging medical negligence discourages the State's medical school graduates from continuing their education in Hawaii and remaining in the State to practice. The post-medical school training resident physicians participate in is a necessary component to completing the requirements of a medical education, leading to full licensure and specialty board certification. Throughout their training, resident physicians participate in a nationally-recognized accredited program that includes the care of patients under the supervision of a fully-licensed faculty or volunteer physician. Resident physicians are closely monitored and the treatment they provide is subject to continual review by a fully-licensed faculty or volunteer physician, as well as their educational program.

Accordingly, the purpose of this Act is to encourage postgraduate resident physicians to apply to Hawaii-based residency programs and remain in Hawaii by providing postgraduate resident physicians and fellows in a graduate medical education program with limited immunity while under the supervision of a fully-licensed faculty or volunteer physician.

SECTION 2. Chapter 663, Hawaii Revised Statutes, is amended by adding a new section to be appropriately designated and to read as follows:

"663-   Postgraduate resident physicians and fellows; limited liability. (a) Any postgraduate resident physician or fellow participating in a graduate medical education program and practicing under the direction of a physician duly licensed pursuant to chapter 453 shall not owe an independent duty of care to a patient, nor shall the resident or fellow be liable for any civil damages resulting from the person's acts or omissions, except for such damages as may result from the person's gross negligence or wanton acts or omissions.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be construed to limit the supervising physician's liability for their own actions or for the actions of the postgraduate resident physician or fellow.

(c) For purposes of this section, "graduate medical education program" shall have the same meaning as in section 304A-1701."

SECTION 3. This Act does not affect rights and duties that matured, penalties that were incurred, and proceedings that were begun before its effective date.

SECTION 4. New statutory material is underscored.

SECTION 5. This Act shall take effect upon its approval.

 

INTRODUCED BY:

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Report Title:

Medical Malpractice; Residents and Fellows; Limited Liability

 

Description:

Limits medical malpractice liability for residents and fellows in accredited residency and fellowship programs acting under the supervision of a licensed physician.

 

 

 

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