3 Medical Malpractice Reform Proposals
Medical malpractice reform is a contentious issue, probably because the stakes are so high for patients and doctors alike. Every year in the U.S., approximately one out of 14 doctors faces a malpractice suit, while malpractice results in the deaths of 210,000 to 400,000 patients every year.
Advocates of medical malpractice reform claim that it will help control ballooning costs of medical care in the United States by removing the need for doctors to pass the rising costs of malpractice insurance onto patients. Proponents also claim that patients will receive better care because doctors will not be practicing defensive medicine in an attempt to avoid a lawsuit. However, opponents of medical malpractice reform claim that it is unfair to patients who have been harmed as a result of physician negligence to cap damages on pain and suffering and other noneconomic claims. This could be seen as literally adding insult to injury.
With health care reform a significant political issue, a number of proposals have been made within the last decade or so to reform medical malpractice law. At least one of these proposals has taken the form of legislation currently on the table in the United States Congress.
1. Protecting Access to Care Act
This bill was passed by the House of Representatives in 2017. It would impose three major reforms:
- Limiting the fees lawyers can charge patients filing a health care lawsuit
- Capping noneconomic damages from health care lawsuits at $250,000
- Imposing a three-year federal statute of limitations on malpractice lawsuits
After passing the House, the bill was referred to the Senate Judiciary Committee in June 2017 where it apparently still remains.
2. Establishing a No-Fault System
Rather than requiring physicians to purchase malpractice insurance, this system would pass the costs of compensation for malpractice onto the patients in one of two ways. One alternative would involve imposing a surcharge on all medical care that patients would pay into a statewide fund that would pay damages to victims of malpractice once they were assessed according to objective criteria. The other alternative, which has been compared to passengers boarding a plane and purchasing flight insurance, would have patients purchase extra coverage which would payout in the event of a sub-optimal outcome.
3. Abolishing Contingency Fees
Many medical malpractice attorneys only charge fees if they win the case. This proposal would require either the plaintiff or the defendant to pay the attorneys’ fees on both sides depending on the outcome of the case. In other words, the “loser pays.” This would theoretically deter patients from filing frivolous malpractice suits.
For the time being, medical malpractice reform remains at a stalemate. If you have a case involving physician negligence, contact medical malpractice attorney, like a medical malpractice law firm in Indianapolis, IN.
Thank you to the experts at Ward & Ward Law Firm, for their insight into personal injury law.