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Dispatches from public radio's correspondent at the Oregon Legislature. This is a venue for political and policy coverage of the state government in Salem and its impact on the people of Oregon.

Oregon Senate Approves Measure Aimed At Reducing Malpractice Costs

SALEM, Ore. – The Oregon Senate has given the go-ahead to a bill aimed at reducing the cost of medical malpractice litigation. Lawmakers voted Tuesday to send the measure to the Oregon House. But opponents call it a watered-down compromise.

Here's what the bill would do: Set up a mediation process for patients to meet with doctors when there's a possible case of medical error. The idea is to reach a resolution before a lawsuit is filed.

Here's what the bill would not do: Set a cap on the amount that an injured patient can win in a lawsuit.

That rankled some Republicans, including Senate minority leader Ted Ferrioli.

"Not a single dollar will be saved, and there will be no relief for surgeons and OB/GYN's, who practice under the constant threat of litigation."

In the end, Ferrioli’s vote was one of just three against the measure. But some GOP lawmakers say they'll continue to work toward passing a limit on medical malpractice lawsuits.

The bill that did pass was the result of a compromise between two groups often at loggerheads: The Oregon Medical Association and the Oregon Trial Lawyers Association.

On the Web:

Senate Bill 483: Medical malpractice mediation - Oregon Legislature