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Health Care Reform Should Not Include Arbitrary Caps on Damages for Victims of Medical Malpractice

Posted on Jun 17, 2009

President Obama's recent speech to the American Medical Association did not endorse capping damages for medical malpractice.  As much as health care corporations and insurance companies favor limiting recovery for Americans injured or killed due to medical malpractice, there has been no evidence that these caps reduce premiums.

In fact, caps hurt the most severely injured (or the families of those killed) due to a doctor or hospital's negligence.  By arbitrarily limiting recovery this way, some patients won't be able to recover for future medical care needs or replace their lost income, or make modifications to their home, or hire a home health aid or pay for their medications or buy a wheelchair accessible van.  Why should someone devastated by medical malpractice through no fault of their own be forced to choose among their needs?

The most severely injured - children with cerebral palsy due to hypoxic injuries at birth, amputees because of a misdiagnosed cancer, families of a patient who died of a preventable pulmonary embolism - should get fair but full damages.

And if you negligently run over a doctor leaving the hospital, is there a cap on his damages against you?  Is that fair?