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Debate over Medical Malpractice Restrictions Continues

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Tuesday, July 24, 2012

One of the most contentious topics being debated in Missouri and around the country is how much the law should protect physicians from medical malpractice lawsuits when their treatment causes harm to their patients. As we discussed in our March 26 blog post, the state Supreme Court heard a case this session that challenged the 2005 law limiting non-economic medical malpractice compensation to $350,000. The case involves a 5-year-old child who was born with “catastrophic and disabling brain injuries” due to medical errors while his mother was pregnant.

As the Supreme Court continues to consider Missouri’s medical malpractice cap, the debate over this form of tort reform continues in other states. In Michigan, for example, lawmakers in the State Senate have introduced a bill that would raise the standard of proof in malpractice cases that critics say would make it nearly impossible for a negligent doctor to be held responsible for his or her actions.

The bill would change the standard in that state to protect doctors and health care facilities from liability if they had a good-faith belief that the treatment they selected for the injured patient was well-founded and in the patient’s best interests. The language suggests that the doctor would not be liable even if his or her performance of that accepted treatment. According to one woman who developed gangrene after her doctor committed a surgical error, the new standard would give physicians “the status of a god.”

Supporters of the bill claim that Michigan has a doctor shortage and that severely restricting medical malpractice liability would attract new doctors to the state.

Source: M Live, “Medical malpractice reform: Giving bad doctors immunity or improving access to health care?” Melissa Anders, July 18, 2012

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