$250,000 cap on malpractice suits

  1. What is your opinion on limiting malpractice awards in Florida. Supporters of caps contend huge malpractice awards by juries are driving up malpractice insurance premiums, forcing some doctors to close their doors or curtail high-risk oerations. Those opposed say the bill unfairly limits awards to victims of medical errors. They say there is no evidence caps will reduce malpractice premiums.

    I personally don't think there should be a cap, as each case should be based on its own merit.

    And your opinion is......................................
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  2. 26 Comments

  3. by   2banurse
    As I am now pretty muich a "Floridian" (although my heart is still in NY), this is in the news everyday. I think that the fear hear is that because there are so few insurance companies willing to cover malpractice insurance here, many doctors are being forced to discontinue their practice. Insurance rates have gone through the roof and many doctors are paying double or triple what they might have only paid a couple of years ago. It is scary because while the MDs may be forced out, the population is growing by leaps and bounds.

    Unfortunately, I don't think even a cap of $250,000 is going to reverse this. There needs to be more monitoring of the insurance companies themselves. JMHO.

    Kris
  4. by   Zee_RN
    I know of several physicians who have quit practicing simply because of malpractice premiums. I understand PA has some of the highest. The largest group of OB/GYNs in Fayette County, Pennsylvania (they delivered 50% of all babies in the county) quit providing obstetrics services last year due to insurance premiums. Their liability insurance jumped from $100,000/year to $400,000/year. So they are no longer delivering babies.

    I also know of orthopedic surgeons who have quit doing surgery.

    So, yes, I think there should be a cap.

    Yes, my family has been affected by physician errors, too. My dad's cancer was not diagnosed until six weeks before he died despite classic signs for a year. No, we did not seek legal action.

    I was rendered infertile by a resident doing surgery when I was 19. Couldn't really call it malpractice (may have been unavoidable) but could easily have called it unethical and causing great emotional turmoil as they never TOLD me they had rendered me infertile--I found out over a year AFTER the surgery when a new gyne reviewed my records. Did not seek legal action.

    So yes, I think there should be caps. What good does it do the general populace for physicians to quit practicing medicine?! And do HUGE awards stop medical errors? Nope.
  5. by   niteshiftnurse
    Another point to think about, doctors are blaming law suits, but have they thought about what the insurance companies do with the premiums they pay.............they get invested.............like everyone else, they are probably taking a loss like the rest of us
  6. by   Katnip
    My uncle used to be a cardiovascular surgeon in Florida. He quit. He never had a suit against him, but he said malpractice premiums cost so much and there was no way he was going to raise his fees to cover it. Now he owns a jewelry store.
  7. by   Tweety
    I think there should be a cap on the amount of money people get when they are sue. There should also be an overhaul of the insurance industry. After hurricane Andrew here in the Florida the state took over insuring some homes that people couldn't get insurance for. Perhaps they should do the same for malpractice. This would force the price down. I know an MD that pays $125,000 a year for his insurance. That's obscene.

    However, where I'm torn is those injuries that cause permanent disability and the person is going to need care for the rest of his life. They will need more than 250,000.

    Perhaps a case by case basis is best, but multi-million dollar awards are not appropriate all the time either.
  8. by   gwenith
    We are only strating to have malpractice suit problems here in Austraila and there is already moves to limit it and to legally do something without limiting the right to redress.

    Unfortunately it is not only the few large payouts that are the real problem t is all the "nuisance suits" Like the guy who sued the city council because he dived head first into a sandbank while drunk and swimming outside of the safety flags, Even if they don't win the insurance companies have to pick up the cost of the case against them.

    I remember reading one article where the hospital had initiated an "apology: forum for greivances. WorkeD! Most people wanted an apology and assurance it would not happen again over payout.
  9. by   SmilingBluEyes
    I think a start would be a serious cap on "pain and suffering"...that is tough to quantify and often really, does a couple mil alleviate PAIN AND SUFFERING? That and I agree w/the above. A real look at insurance co's and how they do business is in order. There HAS to be reform if there will be medical care for people ...period.
  10. by   redshiloh
    I'd be willing to bet that a cap on awards will not cause the insurance companies to significantly lower malpractice insurance rates. They need to look at who really profits here; not the victims but the lawyers and the insurance companies!
  11. by   Disablednurse
    It may not make the insurance companies drop their prices, but at least they may not raise them. I have just gone thru a scare of almost losing my primary care physician due to the Virginia Reciprocal insurance going under and my doctor's group losing their coverage. I already go an hour out of town to the doctor and hospital. If his group had been unable to find coverage, I would have been looking to go two hours out of town for coverage. That is a long distance for doctor visits.
  12. by   Nurse Ratched
    Tort reform is absolutely necessary. I'm all for covering people who are harmed by medical error. And if the error was malicious, then definitely punish the responsible party. But don't give massive judgements for pain and suffering for human error that results in non-permanent damage.

    Given that attorneys on average receive about 30% of judgements, I think we can figure out who has a vested interest in not placing reasonable caps.
  13. by   liberalrn
    I think the insurance industry needs a complete overhaul--you are supposed to pay your premium so that when you are sick, the coverage is there. Malpractice works the same way. Problem: neither works that way now. I would have more "sympathy" for the ins. co's "plight" if they would look to their investment portfolios and stop the frebies for their agents. I know of ins. agents that get fully paid trips to Cancun, Jamaica etc. because they'vs hit the quota for the year early. Don't know if these perks go to malpractice ins. agents, but they do for the rest of the industry....

    That said, I agre about the nuisance suits--we all remember that woman at McDonald's and the hot coffee. How about a little responsibility on the part of the consumer (realize I am ranting about other liabilities, not malpractice, but the principles are the same). If Mr. so and so is noncompliant and education and refusal to comply is documented--he has no case. If mrs. xyz is told she needs a cardiac cath d/t abc reasons and she refuses...document and move on. She shouldn't be able to get to court w/ a case. Perhaps a combo of ins. reform and tort reform is needed.
  14. by   coffeehound
    Is it different in Fl than here in CA? I thought that the $250K cap DID apply to pain and suffering only NOT medical bills or punitive damages? Am I completely wrong (wouldn't be the first time)?
    I fully support a cap on pain and suffering awards. I do not think it will solve the problem, but we need to do something.

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