Should California raise the bar for medical malpractice?

Mar 28, 2014

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A doctor at the Accident and Emergency department of the recently opened Birmingham Queen Elizabeth Hospital on February 7, 2011 in Birmingham, England. ; Credit: Christopher Furlong/Getty Images

A measure on California’s November ballot would raise the cap on medical negligence lawsuits, including an increased cap on non-economic damages. Voters will be able to decide whether harm sustained from pain and suffering related to medical malpractice should be limited to $250,000 or raised to $1.1 million.

Critics say the initiative would cost the state’s healthcare system billions and complicate the process of fully incorporating California into the Affordable Care Act. The measure is being pursued by Consumer Watchdog.

The initiative’s main provision would change the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act (MICRA) — a study released in 2010 from a group protecting MICRA, Californians Allied for Patient Protection, showed that even doubling the cap would add $9.5 billion in healthcare costs annually. CAAP is currently evaluating the proposed increase, and predicts that costs will go up significantly.

Should the cap on non-economic medical damages be raised to help people who have suffered a loss? Would increasing recompensation come at an undue cost to others? How should California handle medical malpractice funds?


Jaime Court, President of Consumer Watchdog, which backs the new ballot initiative

Benjamin Fenton, healthcare attorney at Fenton Law Group in Los Angeles, which advises and consults with physicians on all legal issues pertaining to their practice.

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