Following the D.C. Court of Appeals’ 90-day deadline to file medical malpractice cases, the House of Representatives passed the “Help, Efficient, Accessible, Low Cost, Timely, Health Care (HEALTH) Act of 2011” (also known as legislation HR 5) in late March 2012. Similar to the D.C. Court of Appeals’ ruling, the bill will establish a statute of limitations for filing healthcare lawsuits. Moreover, the bill aims to cap awards for medical malpractice cases at $250,000 - essentially saying that Americans’ pain and suffering due to medical negligence is only worth $250,000 at most. Injuries suffered from defective drugs, medical devices, or abuses in nursing homes are also limited by this bill. According to the AAJ this bill “takes[s] away the legal rights of injured patients, remove[s] any incentive to improve safety, and leave[s] people at risk for more injuries from negligent care.”
The focus has been pointed towards taking away American rights when the real solution lies in preventing medical errors. As stated in a previous article and the AAJ, preventable medical errors are the sixth leading cause of death in the US. Therefore preventable medical errors are the fundamental problem – so why are the people being punished?