The Star News reports that legislation was recently approved by a House committee that would make it harder for patients to go after healthcare providers in a medical malpractice lawsuit.

The legislation, which was approved by the House Judiciary Committee by a vote of 18-17, aims to cap damages that are paid by hospitals, nursing homes, and doctors. Many states across the nation already limit the amount of awards paid by individual providers. The measure, introduced by Iowa Representative Steven King, would apply to individuals who are covered under Medicaid, Medicare, veterans or military health plans, as well as the Affordable Care Act (ACA). It also will impact those who are covered under health savings plans or COBRA.

Details of the Legislation

 The issue of medical malpractice claims has been a sharply divided one between Republicans and Democrats for quite some time. Critiques of the bill are concerned that pharmaceutical companies and medical device makers who sell dangerous products will be indirectly shielded by the legislation.

Beyond placing a ceiling on non-economic damages, the new legislation gives immunity to drug companies when a patient is harmed by an FDA-approved prescription.

The bill would not limit economic damages. This includes past and future medical costs, lost wages, and other out-of-pocket expenses for those who are victims of medical negligence. The law would, however, cap payments for a victim’s pain and suffering to a total of $250,000. It is expected that this would affect those who are the most vulnerable – such as children and the elderly. Several Democrats were concerned the law would set a bad precedent, particularly because it would preempt plaintiff-friendly state malpractice laws. Several lawmakers introduced amendments that would soften the legislation, specifically to preserve legal protections for residents of nursing homes and those who suffer from medical mistakes; all of the amendments were rejected.

Medical Malpractice Basics

 Last year, health care companies and related interest groups spent over $500 million in lobbying, while trial lawyers spent $6 million. A valid medical malpractice case goes beyond a mere mistake on the part of a health care provider. A victim must establish:

  1. the existence of a doctor-patient relationship;
  2. that the accepted medical standard of care was not met;
  3. causation between the provider’s negligence and the harm;
  4. damages that were incurred as a result of the harm.

 Generally speaking, the medical standard of care is the type and amount of professional medical skill and attention that a prudent, similarly trained health care professional – in the same medical community as the accused – would have provided to the patient under the same circumstances.

Reach Out to Our Medical Malpractice Lawyers Today

 If you or a loved one has been injured by medical malpractice, you should contact an experienced New York medical malpractice attorney right away. The attorneys at Grant & Longworth have years of experience handling medical malpractice claims for victims just like you. Contact us today for professional help with your case.