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Connecticut Public Acts 1996

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Substitute Senate Bill No. 33

PUBLIC ACT NO. 96-133

AN ACT CONCERNING THE REVIEW OF MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AWARDS AND THE MAINTENANCE OF LIABILITY INSURANCE BY OPTOMETRISTS AND DENTAL HYGIENISTS.

Be it enacted by the Senate and House of Representatives in General Assembly convened:

Section 1. Section 19a-17a of the general statutes, as amended by sections 12 and 21 of public act 95-257, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

UPON ENTRY OF ANY MEDICAL MALPRACTICE AWARD OR UPON ENTERING A SETTLEMENT OF A MALPRACTICE CLAIM AGAINST AN INDIVIDUAL LICENSED PURSUANT TO CHAPTER 370 TO 373, INCLUSIVE, 379 OR 383, THE ENTITY MAKING PAYMENT ON BEHALF OF A PARTY OR, IF NO SUCH ENTITY EXISTS, THE PARTY, SHALL NOTIFY THE DEPARTMENT OF PUBLIC HEALTH OF THE TERMS OF THE AWARD OR SETTLEMENT AND SHALL PROVIDE TO THE DEPARTMENT A COPY OF THE AWARD OR SETTLEMENT AND THE UNDERLYING COMPLAINT AND ANSWER, IF ANY. The Department [of Public Health and the county and state medical associations] shall review all medical malpractice awards and all settlements [above a threshold set by the department] to determine whether further investigation or disciplinary action against the providers involved is warranted. ANY DOCUMENT RECEIVED PURSUANT TO THIS SECTION SHALL NOT BE CONSIDERED A PETITION AND SHALL NOT BE SUBJECT TO THE PROVISIONS OF SECTION 1-19 UNLESS THE DEPARTMENT DETERMINES, FOLLOWING COMPLETION OF ITS REVIEW, THAT FURTHER INVESTIGATION OR DISCIPLINARY ACTION IS WARRANTED.

Sec. 2. (NEW) (a) Each person licensed to practice optometry under the provisions of chapter 380 of the general statutes who provides direct patient care services shall maintain professional liability insurance or other indemnity against liability for professional malpractice. The amount of insurance that each such person shall carry as insurance or indemnity against claims for injury or death for professional malpractice shall not be less than five hundred thousand dollars for one person, per occurrence, with an aggregate of not less than one million five hundred thousand dollars.

(b) Each insurance company that issues professional liability insurance, as defined in subdivisions (1), (6), (7), (8) and (9) of subsection (b) of section 38a-393 of the general statutes, shall, on and after January 1, 1997, render to the Commissioner of Public health a true record of the names, according to classification, of cancellations of and refusals to renew professional liability insurance policies and the reasons for such cancellations or refusal to renew said policies for the year ending on the thirty-first day of December next preceding.

Sec. 3. Section 20-133 of the general statutes, as amended by sections 12 and 21 of public act 95-257, is repealed and the following is substituted in lieu thereof:

The board may take any of the actions set forth in section 19a-17 AS AMENDED after notice and hearing, for any of the following reasons: (1) Conviction in a court of competent jurisdiction, either within or without this state, of any crime in the practice of optometry; (2) illegal or incompetent or negligent conduct in the practice of optometry; (3) publication or circulation of any fraudulent or misleading statement; (4) aiding or abetting the practice of optometry by an unlicensed person or a person whose license has been suspended or revoked; (5) presentation to the department of any diploma, license or certificate illegally or fraudulently obtained, or from an unrecognized or irregular institution or state board, or obtained by the practice of any fraud or deception; (6) violation of any provision of this chapter or any regulation adopted hereunder; (7) the effects of physical or mental illness, emotional disorder or loss of motor skill, including but not limited to, deterioration through the aging process, upon the practitioner; [or] (8) abuse or excessive use of drugs, including alcohol, narcotics or chemicals OR (9) FAILURE TO MAINTAIN PROFESSIONAL LIABILITY INSURANCE OR OTHER INDEMNITY AGAINST LIABILITY FOR PROFESSIONAL MALPRACTICE AS REQUIRED BY SECTION 2 OF THIS ACT. The Commissioner of Public Health may order a license holder to submit to a reasonable physical or mental examination if his physical or mental capacity to practice safely is the subject of an investigation. Said commissioner may petition the superior court for the judicial district of Hartford-New Britain to enforce such order or any action taken pursuant to section 19a-17 AS AMENDED. The license of any optometrist who peddles optical goods, or solicits orders therefor, from door to door, or who establishes a temporary office, may be revoked, and said department may refuse to renew such license. The license of any optometrist who employs solicitors or obtains money by fraud or misrepresentation in connection with the conduct of the profession of optometry shall be revoked, and said department shall not renew such license. The violation of any of the provisions of this chapter by any unlicensed employee in the employ of an optometrist, with the knowledge of his employer, shall be deemed to be a violation thereof by his employer; and continued violation by such an unlicensed employee shall be deemed prima facie knowledge on the part of such employer. Nothing herein contained shall be construed as prohibiting the conducting of clinics or visual surveys when they are conducted without profit.

Sec. 4. (NEW) (a) Each person licensed to practice dental hygiene under the provisions of chapter 379a of the general statutes who provides direct patient care services shall maintain professional liability insurance or other indemnity against liability for professional malpractice. The amount of insurance that each such person shall carry as insurance or indemnity against claims for injury or death for professional malpractice shall not be less than five hundred thousand dollars for one person, per occurrence, with an aggregate of not less than one million five hundred thousand dollars.

(b) Each insurance company that issues professional liability insurance, as defined in subdivisions (1), (6), (7), (8) and (9) of subsection (b) of section 38a-393 of the general statutes, shall, on and after January 1, 1997, render to the Commissioner of Public health a true record of the names, according to classification, of cancellations of and refusals to renew professional liability insurance policies and the reasons for such cancellations or refusal to renew said policies for the year ending on the thirty-first day of December next preceding.

Approved May 29, 1996. Effective October 1, 1996.

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