The Debate over Medical Malpractice Caps

On behalf of Brown & Crouppen, P.C. posted in Medical Malpractice on Friday, October 26, 2012

The capping of medical malpractice awards has been debated in many states. Though many states are considering removing of such caps, other states are contemplating implementing such caps or decreasing the amount of such caps even further.

Missouri has been the most recent state to strike down laws limiting non-economic damages in medical malpractice lawsuits that would include jury awards for pain and suffering of the patient. However, Missouri’s neighboring state of Kansas has decided to uphold these caps.

Non-economic awards concern items such as disruption of life, pain and suffering, value for loss of life, etc. Such damages do not include medical expenses or wage losses. Yet the limiting of non-economic damages to in medical malpractice cases might seem unjust under many circumstances.

In the Kansas case, the surgeons accidentally removed the wrong ovary, and this resulted in the need for additional surgeries, the loss of both ovaries, and additional suffering due to the need for more surgery. The judgment was reduced from $759,679 to $334,679 after the removal of $575,000 for current and future noneconomic costs.

Despite preconceived notions, it must be remembered that medical malpractice cases are seldom frivolous. Though it may not be possible to place a price tag on such disabilities, compensation would probably exceed any arbitrary damages cap required by the state.

For example, mistakes made because of the improper application of anesthesia may result in severe brain damage. Treating the injured patient may require a lifetime of care, confinement to bed or a wheelchair, the inability to ever work again (resulting in a lifetime of lost wages), the inability to communicate or interact with others, and the loss of all memory.

Attorneys that practice in the medical malpractice field get an up close and personal glance at what patients go through. Such attorneys also understand the costs for a family having to deal with such disabilities.

Source: Renal & Urology News, “Kansas Supreme Court Upholds Medical Malpractice Award Cap,” by Ann W. Latner, J.D., Oct. 12, 2012

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