The Iowa Senate recently approved legislation that would significantly reduce patients’ ability to seek legal remedies after being harmed by the negligence of health care providers.
The legislation includes language that would:
- Govern doctor-patient communications after an incident: When a medical incident occurs, the responsible health care provider may offer to have an open discussion with the patient. Further, with the consent of the patient, the health care provider may investigate the incident and discuss possible steps that can be taken to prevent similar incidents in the future.
- Place a $250,000 limit on non-economic damages: This would limit damages that are awarded due to damages arising from pain, suffering, inconvenience, physical impairment, mental anguish, emotional pain and suffering, loss of chance, and loss of consortium.
- Require a Certificate of Merit to be filed alongside the initial complaint: An expert would be required to certify how the defendant failed to meet the requisite standard of care via an affidavit. A medical malpractice lawsuit filed without a Certificate of Merit would likely be dismissed and the plaintiff would not be allowed to bring another lawsuit.
- Establish more strict standards for expert witnesses: Expert witnesses that are intending to provide testimony must be physicians and must have a certain level of experience.
Supporters of the legislation, who are predominantly Republican, feel that the provisions are more in line with the rest of the country. Iowa currently ranks 43rd nationally in per capita doctors and many feel that the reason is the high cost of liability insurance. The current lack of a non-economic damage cap has led insurance companies to maintain high rates which have kept many doctors away from practicing medicine in Iowa.
Detractors feel that the legislation is shortsighted. Per the Iowa Association for Justice, the number of medical error lawsuits in Iowa has fallen by 39% over the last ten years. Additionally, patients located in Iowa have continually filed fewer medical malpractice lawsuits per capita than almost every other state. All the while, it has been reported that an estimated 1 out of every 4 patients admitted to the hospital result in some type of medical error.
The next step is for the legislation to go through a vote in the Iowa House of Representatives.
Medical malpractice can have devastating effects that last a lifetime. If you have been injured by a physician’s neglect, attorneys Charles Gilman and Briggs Bedigian will work to get you the full compensation to which you are entitled. Call 800-529-6162 today or contact them online for a free case evaluation. They handle cases in Maryland, Pennsylvania, and Washington, D.C.
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