Eau Claire Leader Telegram: Kreitlow defends vote to limit medical malpractice awards

January 23, 2008
By Brad Bryan

State Sen. Pat Kreitlow, D-Chippewa Falls, said he voted against new malpractice legislation that passed the Senate Tuesday for philosophical reasons.

The bill allows adult children and parents of adult children to file medical malpractice lawsuits seeking compensation for the loss of companionship.

Kreitlow, whose wife is an obstetrician-gynecologist, was the lone dissenting Democrat on what was otherwise a party-line vote. He said having a wife who is a doctor didn't influence his vote.

"I don't think that has any standing here, so much as ... are we opening up a new category of people who can sue?" Kreitlow said. "I'm just philosophically opposed to creating new categories of people who can sue if it is not productive to the process of justice.

"A new category of people who can sue does not help reduce the amount of malpractice and does not do anything to hold physicians more accountable when something goes wrong."

Kreitlow said physician accountability practices such as peer review and licensure enforcement are a better means to prevent malpractice and provide punishment when it does occur.

Sen. Carol Roessler, R-Oskosh, was the only Republican to vote in favor of the bill.

The Wisconsin Association for Justice, formerly the Wisconsin Academy of Trial Lawyers, lauded the bill's passage, stating it removed a "roadblock to justice" for families in the state.

According to the organization, Wisconsin is one of only a few states that doesn't allow malpractice suits filed by adult children or parents of adult children.

The Senate bill would have to be approved by the Assembly and signed by Gov. James Doyle to become law.

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