To encourage retired doctors, nurses and other healthcare providers from volunteering in their communities, Missouri lawmakers have voted to relax medical malpractice liability for volunteers.
The bill, sponsored by Republican Sen. David Sater (a former pharmacist), would also allow healthcare professionals licensed in other states to practice in Missouri as long as they are providing free healthcare. According to Sater, the cost of malpractice insurance was discouraging retired healthcare providers from volunteering.
“We just want them to work within the scope of their practice and if they do that and follow the standard of care, which we have in the bill, then they won’t have to fear being sued for some frivolous stuff,” said Sater, in an interview with MissouriWatchdog.org. The bill was originally vetoed by Gov. Jay Nixon, who stated that the state already had a system of free clinics and that any gaps in coverage should be addressed within the system.
The new law waives civil penalties against volunteer health professionals unless there is a “gross deviation from the ordinary standard of care, or willful misconduct.” The measure thus removes the fear of lawsuits and encourages clinicians to donate their services. The bill will take effect in early October, and makes Missouri the eighth state to ease medical malpractice liability fears for volunteer health practitioners.