Archives: December 2015

December 2015 Newsletter

Tennessee Legislators Looking Ahead to Preserve Access to Care Having passed comprehensive medical liability reform in 2011 and cognizant of the improvements in access to care achieved since then, Tennessee physicians are taking additional steps to protect patients by proposing changes to the state constitution to ensure the law is kept in place. In an effort led by the Tennessee Medical Association, voters would have the chance to weigh in on new state constitutional language clarifying that Tennessee’s General Assembly is authorized to set reasonable limits on non-economic damages in medical liability cases. Before passage, the proposal would require approval by the current Assembly members and a two-thirds majority in the following session. “The General Assembly needs to act now to prevent us from going backwards on the issue of a non-economic damages cap,” Dr. John Hale, president of the Tennessee Medical Association said in a recent statement. “The cap fosters growth in Tennessee’s health care industry by cutting back on frivolous lawsuits and the costs that come with them.” Since 2011, comprehensive medical liability reform has reduced lawsuits by 40 percent across the state, ensuring that meritless lawsuits don’t get in the way of patients with legitimate claims. While…

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State Attorney General Bondi defends medical malpractice limits

Pointing to the Legislature’s efforts to address a “crisis,” Attorney General Pam Bondi’s office is urging the Florida Supreme Court to uphold a key part of a controversial 2003 medical-malpractice law. A friend-of-the-court brief filed by Bondi’s office signals the potential high stakes of a pending Supreme Court case that could further eliminate limits on damages in medical-malpractice cases. Then-Gov. Jeb Bush, insurers, doctors and hospitals battled to pass the limits on pain-and-suffering damages in 2003, arguing that the state was in a crisis because of high medical-malpractice insurance rates. But this summer, the 4th District Court of Appeal ruled that the limits were unconstitutional in malpractice personal-injury cases — after the Supreme Court earlier ruled against the limits in wrongful-death cases. Bondi’s office filed a 23-page brief late Monday seeking to rebut the appeals court’s ruling, which came in the case of dental assistant Susan Kalitan, who went into surgery for carpal-tunnel syndrome and ended up suffering a perforated esophagus after tubes were inserted into her mouth and esophagus as part of the anesthesia process. “Kalitan failed to rebut any of the exhaustive research, testimony, or data supporting the conclusion that a non-economic damages cap is a critical, necessary…

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Tennessee doctors want malpractice payout limits in constitution

Fearful that Tennessee courts could eventually strike down a 2011 law capping jury awards in medical malpractice lawsuits, doctors plan to press legislators to protect the statute through amending the state’s constitution. The Tennessee Medical Association wants lawmakers to put before voters new constitutional language clarifying that the General Assembly has authority to set caps on noneconomic damages such as pain and suffering in cases involving medical malpractice liability. The group’s would require persuading lawmakers in the current GOP-dominated 109th General Assembly to approve the proposed amendment in 2016 and then getting their successors in the 110th General Assembly to pass it by a two-thirds majority. If it wins approval from lawmakers, it would go before voters on the 2018 ballot to decide. “The General Assembly needs to act now to prevent us from going backwards on the issue of a noneconomic damages cap,” Dr. John Hale, president of the Tennessee Medical Association said in a recent statement. “The cap fosters growth in Tennessee’s health care industry by cutting back on frivolous lawsuits and the costs that come with them. “I’m confident Tennessee voters will support it if given the chance to have their voices heard,” Hale added. But a…

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