HealthLawProf Blog

Editor: Katharine Van Tassel
Concordia University School of Law

Saturday, November 20, 2004

Med-Mal Reform Developments in 8 States

The Kaiser  Daily Health Policy Report recently published its review of recent med-mal reform developments in eight states. Here are the leads:

  • Florida: More than half of rural physicians over the past year have limited medical services, and most cited increasing medical malpractice premiums as a "key reason" for limiting service, according to a 2003 study published Monday in the Archives of Internal Medicine, the St. Petersburg Times reports. . . . Voters on Nov. 2 passed Amendment 7, which will allow patients in the state to review records of medical errors committed by physicians in medical facilities. Voters also approved Amendment 8, which will allow the revocation of the licenses of physicians who lose three malpractice lawsuits. In addition, Florida voters passed Amendment 3, which allows plaintiffs in malpractice lawsuits to retain 70% of the first $250,000 in damages awarded and 90% of damages awarded in excess of that amount.
  • Georgia: About 59% of state residents believe it is "very important" to pass a bill to limit medical malpractice insurance premiums, and 25% said such a bill is "somewhat important," according to a Georgia Hospital Association survey released Monday, the Florida Times-Union reports.
  • Maryland: While Democratic state lawmakers support taxing HMOs to "help defray the costs" for the Medical Mutual Liability Insurance Society of Maryland -- the medical malpractice insurer that covers about 75% of the state's private practice physicians -- Gov. Robert Ehrlich (R) has "vowed" not to raise taxes and said the state should consider drawing from its general funds to help pay malpractice insurers, the Washington Times reports.
  • Missouri: Medical malpractice claims fell to "a record low" in 2003, and total payouts to plaintiffs in malpractice cases dropped about 21%, according to a report released last week by the state Department of Insurance, the St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports.
  • Nevada: Voters in the state last week approved Question 3, a medical liability reform measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, by a 59% to 41% margin, but physicians in the state "now must wait and see" whether the measure will reduce malpractice insurance premiums in the state, the Las Vegas Sun reports (Kanigher, Las Vegas Sun, 11/5).
  • Utah: The Utah Supreme Court on Friday upheld the $250,000 state cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice lawsuits in a case that involved a six-year-old boy with brain damage, the Salt Lake Tribune reports. In the case, a Utah jury awarded $1,250,000 in noneconomic damages to the parents of the boy, who experienced severe brain damage when a physician failed to deliver him with forceps, in addition to $22,735 for medical costs and $1 million for future expenses.  (NOTE: the case is Judd v. Drezga, 11/5/2004.)
  • Virginia: Physicians at the Medical Society of Virginia annual meeting last weekend launched a "White Coats on Call" campaign to promote medical liability reform, the Washington Times reports. According to outgoing MSV President Mitchell Miller, as many as 100 physicians daily will visit Richmond throughout the next session of the state Legislature to highlight the increased costs of malpractice insurance in the state (McElhatton, Washington Times, 11/8).
  • Wyoming: Voters in the state last week passed Amendment C, a medical liability reform measure on the Nov. 2 statewide ballot, but rejected Amendment D, a companion measure, resulting in a "split" that supporters maintain could limit the ability of the state Legislature to address the issue of high malpractice insurance premiums, the AP/Billings Gazette reports (Bohrer, AP/Billings Gazette, 11/4).

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