Consumer Advocates, Attorneys Aim To Lift Medical Malpractice Cap
Consumer Watchdog and attorneys have launched a campaign to eliminate a cap on damages under California's medical malpractice law, the Sacramento Business Journal reports (Robertson, Sacramento Business Journal, 7/8).
Details of the Law
The Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act was enacted in 1975 to protect health care providers from increasing malpractice insurance rates and expensive lawsuits.
The law limits all damages related to pain and suffering or emotional loss from a loved one's death to $250,000. Under the law, economic and punitive damages remain unlimited in medical malpractice cases (California Healthline, 7/3/12).
Details of the Campaign
A coalition of trial attorneys and Consumer Watchdog seek to qualify for the November 2014 ballot an initiative to eliminate the cap on medical malpractice damages, which has not been increased since its passage.
The groups argue that many attorneys refuse to accept malpractice cases because the litigation is too time-consuming and costly and does not provide a large payoff.
The coalition is using billboards and stories of injured patients to draw support for the initiative.
However, health care providers say the law keeps malpractice claims under control while also providing protection for patients.
Meanwhile, a poll of 802 randomly selected registered state voters found that 55% of respondents said that the $250,000 cap is "too high or about right."
A third of respondents said the cap is too low or should be eliminated.
The poll was conducted by public policy research agency FM3 and released by Californians Allied for Patient Protection (Sacramento Business Journal, 7/8).This is part of the California Healthline Daily Edition, a summary of health policy coverage from major news organizations. Sign up for an email subscription.