Why Enforcing a Malpractice Cap Makes No Logical Sense

There are proponents in the medical field who want to keep a malpractice cap or malpractice limit on the amount of money that can be awarded in a medical malpractice lawsuit. Where in the world does this make any sense at all?

Much of this public outcry was sparked by the recent outbreak of hepatitis C in Las Vegas, where tens of thousands of patients at now-closed outpatient clinics were potentially infected with the virus due to shoddy and lax procedures used for injections.

So what the doctors seem to be saying is that they do not want to take responsibility for their mistakes and lax procedures, even though it caused pain, suffering and even death for some patients who came to them for treatment. So if you take your car to an auto shop and they put jet fuel in your gas tank due to negligence, where the engine blows up as a result, it is just an “oops” that you are supposed to overlook?

Doctors fear that the premiums for their malpractice insurance will go through the roof. I am sorry but I have no sympathy for that. If doctors are as professional as they are supposed to be and take reasonable care when they perform procedures, there should not be a reason for them to ever file a malpractice claim. But enforcing a cap on malpractice lawsuits only invites and encourages doctors to be lax and hospitals to cut corners in many areas where corners just cannot be cut in terms of patient care.

In this case, via the professional standards of just about anybody, the health care providers were grossly negligent, according to Bill Bradley of the Nevada Justice Association. To add insult to injury, in the 14 months since this outbreak occurred, not a single doctor’s license has been revoked. Doesn’t this really make a mockery of the whole system of malpractice?

The current state law supposedly “protects” doctors by limiting the amount of malpractice award to $350,000 if the plaintiff wins their case. But there is a bill in the legislature now that would remove that cap, as well as significantly increase the time period that a family has to file the malpractice lawsuit. While doctors argue that the costs of their malpractice insurance would skyrocket, putting such a low cap on malpractice awards could also be seen almost as condoning negligence in the medical field.

In past malpractice awards where gross negligence was proven in the courtroom, awards of 6 and even 7 figures was not and still is not uncommon. Each case is considered by its own merits and circumstances, and the judge rules according to the specifics of each individual case. Is that wrong? If a patient age 25 suffers from medical negligence and cannot work for the rest of his life, what is the amount of income he is now going to miss, as well as the severely reduced quality of life he will have with his family? The proposed cap does not even begin to address that with such a pittance, given that the situation was caused by gross medical negligence or incompetence.

It is your responsibility to prove medical malpractice if you have been a victim, but make sure you are aware of the malpractice caps as the law provides in your state.

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