Tuesday, May 8, 2007

Malpractice Mess

There's much more at stake in New York's never-ending battle for tort reform than the bank balances of bad doctors or greedy lawyers.

Doctors say multimillion dollar judgments in negligence lawsuits are pushing malpractice insurance premiums so high that some physicians are cutting the services they offer or are leaving the state. They want to restrict what patients can collect.

Trial lawyers don't want any limits on damages patients can be awarded. Such restrictions, they say, would be unfair to victims of medical negligence, some of whom might face a lifetime of lost wages and expensive medical bills because of their doctors' carelessness.

Both sides have valid points. But they and their allies in the state Legislature have been arguing back and forth for years, with little prospect for resolution.

Lawmakers would be wise to seriously consider legislation modeled after laws that, overall, appear to have worked well in California and about three-dozen other states. Such legislation would place caps on non-economic damages, like for pain and suffering, but still allow high awards to compensate patients for lost wages and the like due to negligence.

Indeed, a Government Accountability Office study found that obstetricians, internists and surgeons in states with such caps saw their malpractice premiums rise only a third as much as those in other states.

source : insurancenewsnet.com

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