Washington News

Coalition submits 200,000 signatures to Legislature

Washington Gov. The father of a baby who was badly injured during a botched delivery, alongside a coalition of activists, labor leaders and lawyers submitted about 200,000 signatures, which were more than the 197,734 needed to put an initiative before the Legislature. The initiative is aimed at reforming medical malpractice laws.

The father, Dylan Malone, said “you need to hold everyone accountable – doctors, lawyers and insurance companies, if you're going to have meaningful reform.” Malone's son died last May of injuries sustained at birth, and Malone said that at his son's funeral he vowed to try to change the system in honor of his memory.

Washington doctors say they plan on presenting their own medical malpractice reform initiative to the Legislature, which has been gridlocked on medical malpractice changes for the past several years. The decisions for both reform plans will most likely go to voters. The coalition plans on turning in more signatures before the December 30 deadline.

The coalition's initiative, Initiative336, would make several changes in current law, including three strikes, which would revoke licenses of doctors that have three jury verdicts against them in 10 years for preventable medical injuries. In addition, the initiative would ban secret settlements in medical malpractice cases, require public hearings if an insurance company wants to increase malpractice insurance rates by more than 15 percent and require those insurance companies to open their financial records to the public and establish a supplemental insurance fund for clinics, hospitals and health care providers.

Supporters of the rival initiative, Initiative 330, are still collecting signatures, but it would cap pain and suffering damages, limit legal fees in malpractice cases, as well as other reforms. A very tough debate between the two sides on the medical malpractice issue is expected.

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