What Is Medical Malpractice Reform Proposing?

Personal Injury Lawyer

The healthcare industry is a multi-billion dollar enterprise. It includes a network of doctors, nurses, clinics, hospitals and any other medical professionals.

One of the biggest challenges facing healthcare administrators at every level is the rising cost of medical malpractice. From the standpoint of medical professionals, rising premiums, and payouts to patients mean their bottom line is impacted more heavily. The courts have been contemplating tort reform for many years to help cut the toll on the healthcare industry. Take a look at some of the sweeping changes contemplated.

Limiting Damages Awarded

The fundamental element of the malpractice reform movement is limiting the number of damages courts can award patients. In a lawsuit, the prevailing party is entitled to receive damages. Compensatory damages are the most common and concrete. These are medical bills, lost wages, and out-of-pocket expenditures that can be proven by receipts. These may also include attorney fees. General damages are more intangible and are meant to compensate the victim for things like pain and suffering, mental anguish and loss of consortium. The final category of damages is punitive. These are the high-dollar, high-stakes payouts that judges often award as punishment when a defendant is determined to be grossly negligent, or the injury is particularly catastrophic.

The advocates of medical malpractice reform want legislators to place a cap on how much a defendant can receive in general and punitive damages. Since compensatory is considered more like payback than an award, it is usually not included in this movement.

Changing the Statute of Limitations for Filing a Claim

States statutes vary on setting the time limit for when a claimant may file a medical malpractice lawsuit through the court. Those advocating medical malpractice reform want to change the statute of limitations. The proposal would shorten the time to file a claim and also further define the “discovery of harm” rule. In medical malpractice cases, the clock for filing suit starts either on the date an act of malpractice was committed or at the time a patient knew medical malpractice occurred. This may delay the filing of a medical malpractice claim for years after the event took place in some states.

What Reform Means for Doctors and Hospitals

Tort reform in medical malpractice would mean that hospitals and doctors might avoid additional expenses defending more frivolous lawsuits. It also means that doctors may stop ordering unnecessary testing as a defense measure in case the patient claims they failed to diagnose appropriately. Over time, these and other changes may mean a decrease in medical bills, insurance and hospitalization costs.

If you believe you may be the victim of negligence in a medical case, consult a FL medical malpractice lawyer in your state.

 


 

Thank you to our friends at David & Philpot, P.L. for information on medical malpractice reform.