What You Need to Know About the Colorado Candor Act
When you go the hospital, or to see your general practitioner, you do so under the assumption that they will take proper care of you, and help you stay healthy. Sadly, this isn’t always the case. Many people find themselves victims of medical malpractice, which leaves them sick or injured, or even costs their life. After such a tragedy, the victim or family may seek compensation, demanding justice from the doctor who harmed them. Not that long ago, getting compensation in a medical malpractice claim could be difficult, but thanks to the Colorado Candor Act, things have changed.
The Failing Old System
Before the Candor Act, when a medical professional acted negligently, whether with a surgical error or a cancer misdiagnosis, they were required to report any settlements for medical malpractice to the Colorado medical board for investigation according to C.R.S. § 10-1-120. This board is a state agency, with the power to revoke licenses and implement other disciplinarian actions. This meant that any doctor who reported a medical malpractice claim to the court was at risk of losing his or her ability to practice.
While medical malpractice should always be punished appropriately, this caused most doctors to refuse to settle, which meant in practice that most medical malpractice claims were being sent to the courthouse. This became a drain on the court and on the victims, as patients who suffered medical malpractice would have to wait even longer and fight harder to get the compensation they were owed.
The Passing of the Candor Act
Over the years, it became very clear that C.R.S. § 10-1-120 was not working as intended. Patients were the ones saddled with the burden of a failing system, left having to wait for court decisions when they needed money for further treatments as soon as possible. Then, on July 1st, 2019, the Candor Act officially went into effect. Rather than being forced to report to the Colorado medical board, medical professionals who have been involved in an “adverse health care incident” will be encouraged to engage in honest discussion with their patients about what happened, why it happened, and how it will be fixed moving forward. On top of that, medical professionals can also settle with patients, offering compensation without having to report it to the medical board, encouraging them to offer proper compensation quickly.
What It Means for You
Before the Candor Act, if you suffered medical malpractice, then odds were that you would have to go to court before the hospital would agree to a number. While going to court does not mean that you won’t get the compensation you are owed (in fact, with a skilled attorney, chances are high that you will), it does mean that you have to wait an extended period of time for a resolution. That extra time allows medical bills to pile up, and with no compensation for months to years, you may be left unable to pay them. Essentially, time costs money, and the person losing the most time would be you.
The Candor Act benefits patients in this way. Patients are now free to have an honest conversation with their doctor and encourage that doctor to make sure the same mistakes are not made again. The patient may also be able to get the compensation he is owed quickly rather than having to wait. However, that doesn’t mean the Candor Act has fixed the true crux of the problem.
“Adverse health care incidents,” a technical euphemism for what are essentially mistakes made by healthcare providers, are never acceptable, even when patients are free to have a conversation about them with their doctors. On top of that, just because a doctor is now able to settle quickly does not mean she will, or that a patient will be offered enough money to fix the problem. It isn’t the doctor who is personally handing over compensation — it’s her malpractice insurance company, which may also works with the hospital. Insurance companies go out of their way to pay as little as possible. The less money they give you, the more they get to keep for their shareholders.
While the Candor Act does hold some benefit for patients, it can also trick victims of medical malpractice into taking a lower settlement than they should. That is why you should always work with an experienced medical malpractice attorney who can protect your rights and advocate on your behalf. To speak with our top-notch team at Leventhal Puga Braley P.C., call (303) 759-9945 or toll-free (877) 433-3906. We are ready to help.