Marshall and Ruiz Introduce Legislation to Ensure Patient Safety in ER Care

May 22, 2020
Press Release

Washington - Congressman Roger Marshall, M.D. (R-KS) and Raul Ruiz, M.D. (R-CA) recently introduced H.R. 6910, the ER Hero and Patient Safety Act, legislation that would ensure all emergency room (ER) physicians are able to keep their public promise to practice medicine ethically and put their patient’s health first. To meet complex organizational challenges of their ERs, some hospitals have outsourced their entire ER department to physician staffing companies. Unfortunately, federal law has not been updated to these reflect changes in the industry and due process rights are not guaranteed to physicians who are not directly employed by the hospital. This bill would ensure due process rights for ER physicians that are employed by a third-party contractors or physician staffing companies. 

“The COVID-19 outbreak has brought this issue to nation’s attention,” said Rep. Marshall. “In major headline news, we’re seeing ER physicians being fired or threatened with termination just for addressing issues that jeopardize the safety of their patients, their colleagues, and themselves. Without due process in our nation’s greatest safety net, physicians are unable to act as their patient’s best advocate. This is not what America’s public health heroes deserve, especially in the wake of COVID-19. Our bill updates federal law to ensure that all physicians working in a hospital’s ER have due process rights.”

“Patient health and safety is my number one priority as a physician and a member of Congress,” said Rep. Ruiz. “It’s more important now than ever that health care providers are empowered to make decisions based on quality of care and patient safety – not whether they could be fired for reporting dangerous conditions in the hospital. I am proud to co-author this bill to guarantee that doctors are afforded due process rights and whistleblower protections.”

Several studies and surveys have demonstrated that a lack of due process distorts the practice of emergency medicine, contributes to the physician workforce shortage, can prioritize financial incentivizes over appropriate clinical care, and undermines a physician’s Hippocratic Oath. 

This legislation is supported by the American Academy of Emergency Medicine, American College of Emergency Physicians, American Osteopathic Association, Society for Academic Emergency Medicine, American Academy of Emergency Medicine Resident and Student Association, Council of Residency Directors in Emergency Medicine, American College of Osteopathic Emergency Physicians, and the American College of Medical Toxicology.

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