SB 6 Limits Ability to Hold Negligent Facilities Accountable, Risks Lives and Safety of West Virginians
Legislature Can Reduce Lawsuits by Improving Standard of Care
Charleston, W.Va. – The West Virginia Association for Justice today urged the West Virginia Legislature to reject proposed SB 6. Passage of bill would restrict the ability to hold negligent facilities accountable when West Virginians are seriously injured or killed. Rather than reduce accountability for wrongdoers, legislature should instead focus on increasing the standard of care.
“If the West Virginia Legislature was to decrease the number of lawsuits against nursing homes and pharmacies, the answer is simple–focus on improving the standard of care so that legal action is not necessary. This proposal does nothing to increase safety and minimize mistakes. All it does it limit the ability of those hurt or killed to hold the negligent company accountable. It’s wrong,” said Anthony Majestro, president of the West Virginia Association for Justice.
West Virginia nursing homes earned a D rating in 2014 from a national nursing home patients’ advocacy organization. The rating is based on eight federal quality control measures. (NursingHomeReportCards.com)
“It is outrageous that the West Virginia Senate would pass legislation to limit accountability for nursing homes at a time when the number of severe deficiencies in our state facilities has doubled in just four years. Our nursing home industry earned a D from a national nursing home patients’ advocacy organization. This legislation does absolutely nothing to address the serious problems in our nursing home industry, while restricting our ability to hold negligent nursing homes accountable,” said Majestro.
According to Families for Better Care, federal data show that one in five West Virginia nursing homes has been cited for a severe deficiency. The number of West Virginia facilities with severe deficiencies increased from 53 in 2011 to an estimated 111 in 2014. Eighty percent of nursing homes had deficiencies. State nursing homes ranked 46th nationally in direct-care staffing hours. (Nursing Home Compare, 2011 – 2014).
Estimated revenues for the long-term care industry total more than $200 billion per year.
Also hidden in SB 6 are damage caps for pharmacies, limiting their liability as well. According to the Food and Drug Administration, more than 1.3 million people are injured every year due to medication mistakes caused by giving customers the wrong medication or dosage. Only a fraction of these are even reported since all reports from pharmacies are voluntary.
Dr. Carmine Catizone with the National Association of Boards of Pharmacy expressed concern over growing pharmacy errors. NBC News reported, that “‘We’ve heard the complaints about the large chains and how they’re morphing or how they resemble fast food restaurants.’ His group represents government agencies in charge of ensuring pharmacy safety and said no one is keeping track of mistakes because large chains refuse to turn over the data.” http://www.nbcwashington.com/investigations/Perscription-Errors-Pharmacy-CVS-Investigation-246947451.html
In West Virginia, pharmacies are encouraged to complete incident reports when errors occur, but these reports are voluntary.
“Again, the better solution is increased accountability, but instead of finding ways to reduce pharmacy errors, the Legislature is minimizing the pharmacies’ responsibility to those injured or killed due to their mistakes. It’s wrong.”
These preventable adverse drug events (ADEs) cost the health care system $2 billion annually. According to the 2014 – 2015 Economic Report on Retail, Mail and Specialty Pharmacies, prescription revenues exceeded $300 billion. In 2013, nearly 37 million prescriptions were filled at retail pharmacies in West Virginia. (http://kff.org/other/state-indicator/total-retail-rx-drugs/)
The number of pharmacists in West Virginia is growing. According to the Bureau of Labor Statistics, there were 2,010 pharmacists in the state in 2010. This total grew to 2,210 in 2013, the most recent year data is available. This is an increase of 10 percent in just three years. In 2013, West Virginia ranked first in the country for the number of pharmacists based on population. (http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/ oes291051.htm)
The West Virginia Association for Justice represents more than 500 plaintiffs’ attorneys throughout West Virginia and in surrounding states. WVAJ members are committed to preserving and improving our civil justice system in order to ensure that any person who is injured by the misconduct and negligence of others can obtain justice in America’s courtrooms. WVAJ members work to protect West Virginia families by promoting safe workplaces, safe products, quality healthcare, a clean environment and corporate responsibility.