H. B.3223

(By Delegates Amores, Long, Craig, Hamilton and Schadler)

[Introduced on March 24, 2005 ; referred to the Committee on Health and Human Resources then the Judiciary.]

A BILL to amend the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, by adding thereto a new section, designated §55-7B-9d, relating to the admissibility of certain statements made by a health care provider or an employee of a health care provider to a patient or relatives or representatives of the patient; and providing that these statements shall be inadmissible as evidence as an admission of liability or against interest.

Be it enacted by the Legislature of West Virginia:
That the Code of West Virginia, 1931, as amended, be amended by adding thereto a new section, designated §55-7B-9c, to read as follows:
§55-7b-9c. Expressions of sympathy inadmissible.

(a) No statement, sympathy, commiseration, condolence, compassion or a general sense of benevolence which is made by a health-care provider to the patient, a relative of the patient or a representative of the patient and which relate to the discomfort, pain, suffering, injury or death of the patient shall be admissible as evidence of an admission of liability or as evidence of an admission against interest in any civil action and any resulting arbitration, mediation or other alternative dispute resolution proceeding brought under the provision of this article.
(b) For purposes of this section, "relative" means a spouse, parent, grandparent, stepfather, stepmother, child, grandchild, brother, sister, half-brother, half-sister or spouse's parents. The term includes said relationships that are created as a result of adoption. In addition, "relative" includes any person who has a family-type relationship with a patient.

NOTE: The purpose of this bill is to encourage physicians and other health-care providers to maintain open communications with patients in circumstances where an unanticipated outcome arises from a medical treatment or procedure, without fear that any expressions of apology, sympathy, compassion and the like made in such circumstances will be used against the physician or health-care provider in any subsequent legal proceedings.

This is a new sectionStrike-throughs indicate language that would be stricken from the present law, and underscoring indicates new language that would be added.