Press Releases

May 22, 2013

Senator Roy Blunt Gives Major Boost to Congressman Dent’s Bill to Extend Liability Shield to Emergency Room Physicians

Senator Blunt (MO) introduces companion bill to Dent legislation

Congressman Charlie Dent (PA-15th) received some welcome assistance to advance one of his legislative priorities when Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri recently introduced S. 961 a companion to Dent’s H.R. 36 the Health Care Safety Net Enhancement Act.

The American health care system is facing a growing shortage of physicians and specialists willing to work in emergency rooms. To understand why, consider the reality of the emergency room medical environment. Here, doctors provide care to individuals often in extreme distress. Each second counts as physicians struggle to stabilize patients who often have extensive medical histories and prior health problems. The doctors treating them generally have no prior knowledge or history with the patients. Yet, these doctors must make quick decisions and perform complex procedures that are paramount to the patients’ survival.

The other side of the equation is that the high-risk medicine practiced in the ER exposes these physicians to a greatly increased likelihood of litigation. That looming threat ultimately pushes more and more doctors away from working where their skills and abilities are vitally needed.

“These men and women want to help. They are the physicians, but the risks of working out of the ER have just become too high,” said Congressman Dent.

“My bill and Senator Blunt’s bill will work to reverse that disturbing trend by providing liability coverage to trauma professionals,” Dent added.

Dr. Alex Rosenau, President-Elect of the American College of Emergency Physicians and the Sr. Vice Chair of Emergency Medicine of the Lehigh Valley Health Network greeted the news of Senator Blunt’s action enthusiastically. “On behalf of my colleagues in emergency medicine, I want to express my gratitude to Congressman Dent for his leadership on this legislation and for reaching out to Senator Roy Blunt of Missouri.” Rosenau added that “H.R. 36 and S. 961 will not only provide liability protections for emergency physicians, but also for on-call specialists, which will help make sure they are available to emergency patients.”

Making certain that Americans consistently receive high levels of care in the nation’s emergency rooms spurred Senator Blunt’s involvement with the issue.

“Our nation’s medical liability system is flawed and costly. I’m pleased to join Senator Kirk [an original co-sponsor in the Senate] and Congressman Dent in this effort to provide liability protections for emergency physicians, and I will continue to support common-sense reforms that improve Americans’ access to affordable, quality health care,” said Senator Blunt.

Congressman Dent introduced his bill in the House in January. Senator Blunt introduced his companion bill on May 15th.

“My hope is that both bills advance so that this pressing issue can be dealt with,” concluded Congressman Dent. 

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Contact:  Shawn Millan (610) 770-3490