Friend Votes Down Costly Medical Liability Measure

Assemblyman calls legislation unfair to defendants in malpractice suits

Assemblyman Christopher Friend (R- Big Flats) this week voted against legislation that would increase medical liability insurance costs in New York. Assembly bill 694-A, which enacts the Patient Privacy Protection Act, prohibits the defending party from interviewing the treating physician or healthcare provider of another party in a malpractice, wrongful death, or personal injury action.

“This legislation would put the defendant at a distinct disadvantage,” said Friend. “The parity between the two parties would be destroyed and would create a clear deficiency of information for defendants. The imbalance created by this legislation would not only affect fairness, but it would increase liability insurance costs and flies in the face of a recent Court of Appeals decision, which expressly gives attorneys the right to interview another party’s treating physician when an individual’s medical condition is in question. The legislation creates a clear hardship for certain parties, limits the potential for critical facts coming to light during a legal action, and aggravates an already fractured medical malpractice system.”

Unfortunately, the legislation yesterday passed the state Assembly 87-58, with Assemblyman Friend voting in the negative.