Illinois Supreme Court strikes down malpractice cap
Got a doctor problem, Chicagolanders? The cap is off!
“Weird Al” Yankovic, “Like a Surgeon”
Medical malpractice has made many medical professionals gun shy over the years. Even though Wikipedia claims that over 90 percent of physicians charged with malpractice are found not to be negligent, the costs of having to defend oneself against claims are enough to have radically altered the way the medical community does business. In order to cap runaway award fees and protect doctors and hospitals, states like Illinois used to have a cap of $500,000 per doctor and $1,000,000 per hospital. I say “used to” because the Illinois Supreme Court has declared that 2005 cap unconstitutional and struck it down.
“Paging Dr. Howard, Dr. Fine, Dr. Howard…”
“… please turn in your stethoscopes and leave this hospital.”
Seriously, the American Medical Association is none too pleased to hear about the Illinois Supreme Court’s decision. In a written statement to the press by AMA President Dr. James Rohack, you’d think that the whole state’s healthcare system is going to fall apart: “Today’s court decision threatens to undo all that Illinois patients and physicians have gained under the cap, including greater access to health care, lower medical liability rates and increased competition among medical liability insurers.”
Other states keep their caps
Non-economic damage – aka “pain and suffering” – is capped in over half these United States at figures ranging from $250,000 to $700,000, according to the Robert Wood Johnson Foundation. Reuters reports that states with caps have had an easier time of keeping malpractice premiums down. In addition, such states show fewer lawsuits and more practicing doctors. Yes, if laws are reasonable, business will be there. The same holds true with originators of payday loans. Favorable laws (where APR caps are not unreasonably low) mean more lenders in that state. Having no cap whatsoever on the pain and suffering damages Illinois patients can collect will certainly not be a draw for the best and brightest young surgeons and new hospitals.