Going on the ballot in California this November is an initiative for medical malpractice victims that would finally increase the amount of money patients can receive from medical malpractice insurance companies after they have proved the doctor, hospital, HMO or other healthcare provider committed malpractice and caused serious damages. The initiative would allow patients to receive up to $1.1 million for pain, suffering and other damages a jury awards but cannot strictly quantify - like lost income or medical expenses. The current cap is $250,000.
This initiative would also mandate drug tests for doctors and require physicians to use a state prescription drug database. Hospitals in California will be required to conduct random drug tests and test a doctor for drugs when a preventable medical error was made.The doctors would have to consult with the state database for all new patients' prescription history before they can prescribe the patient new medication or drugs that are prone to abuse.
Who do these damage caps hurt? The elderly, the young, stay at home moms and other people who may be severely injured and disabled due to preventable medical mistakes, but were not working at the time. They may live with chronic pain, disfigurement and distress as a result and the hospital, HMO or physician who caused it will never be financially responsible for the harms.
But if a patient runs over her surgeon in the parking lot leaving the hospital, the doctor can sue her for millions of dollars - with no cap on his damages.