Medical malpractice caps: ineffective wherever they're tried

Every state in the nation wrestles with decisions over how best to serve
its citizens. In Missouri, we have repeatedly wrestled with different
approaches on the how to handle cases in which patients are harmed by
doctor or hospital negligence.

Florida is currently faced with similar decisions on medical malpractice
after its state Supreme Court held that caps on noneconomic damages were
unconstitutional, much as the Missouri high court ruled here a couple
of years ago.

A Florida newspaper recently ran an interesting op-ed on the practical
effects of a
medical malpractice cap, noting that the limits on damages were “a misguided legislative
attempt to solve a problem that is not caused by the amount of money awarded
to compensate victims of medical malpractice.”

The caps serve to punish those people unfortunate enough to be badly harmed
by negligent doctors, while failing to lower the cost of malpractice insurance
for physicians and failing to stop the tide of medical errors hurting patients.

Studies have shown that preventable medical errors contribute to between
210,000 and 440,000 hospital patient deaths per year in the U.S. That
means avoidable medical mistakes rank third, behind only heart disease
and cancer, among the leading causes of deaths of Americans. So it’s
not surprising that courts and the public would recognize that medical
malpractice caps are not only unconstitutional, but ineffective in diminishing
the cause of the problem.

When someone in the Joplin area is harmed by a negligent hospital or doctor,
they should speak with an attorney experienced in the complexities of
medical malpractice cases.

Source: Sun-Sentinel, “No: The caps punish victims of medical mistakes,”
Debra Henley, May 27, 2014

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