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Ohio Doctors Get Immunity From Malpractice Suits

Ohio physicians may have just gotten some big help when it comes to lawsuits. According to a WCPO Cincinnati report, the Ohio Supreme Court has passed new legislation shifting the cost of malpractice judgments from doctors’ insurers to the taxpayers.

What does this mean for patients? In some cases your private doctor can make a serious medical mistake and you can never sue them.

Called the “Theobald ruling,” this legislation stems from the original case Theobald v. Board of County Commissioners of Hamilton County, Ohio. 11 years ago, Keith Theobald was involved in a high impact car wreck which led to the truck flipping across all lanes of traffic and crashing into a stand of trees. When Theobald was found it was discovered he was paralyzed from the chest down. Shortly after his accident, doctors recommended surgery to improve his condition but when Theobald awoke he found that he was still paralyzed, blind and now without the use of his arms.

So why weren’t the doctors liable? They had immunity from all malpractice claims because they had students in the room with them. According to WCPO reporter Hagit Limor, “In the Theobald case, the Ohio Supreme Court ruled that doctors who sign with a state university like the University of Cincinnati to let medical students learn from them, even if that just mean one student walking in the room for a second, now are considered state employees. As such, they get immunity if anything goes wrong on the job, even in their private practices.”

University of Cincinnati released a statement saying the following: “It is important to keep in mind that the law in question is part of the Ohio Revised Code (section 9.86) that has been in existence since 1980. As a state institution, we must follow the laws of the state of Ohio.”

Fortunately for the victims of medical negligence in Kentucky, we do not have a similar law….yet.  While the University of Kentucky Chandler Medical Center has sovereign immunity from suits (you have to take your case to the Board of Claims and cannot recover pain and suffering), private physicians are still responsbile for their negligence at both UK and the University of Louisville Hospital (which does not have immunity).


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