Last week, the NC State Senate approved changes in the state’s medical malpractice laws; including provisions to give emergency room doctors more protection against lawsuits (changing their malpractice standard from ordinary negligence to gross negligence) and a cap non-economic damages for patients at $500,000 (economic damages and medical payments would not be capped). The proposal now moves to the State House for consideration.

But what does this really mean for the state’s physicians.

Medical Justice is a proponent of real, meaningful tort reform. But that is the catch, what is real and meaningful?

Years ago, California enacted tort reform; in fact, the state is often hailed as the model for tort reform. But what really happened after reforms were enacted? According to statistics published by the Doctors Company, while tort reform did limit the severity of individual claims, the total frequency of claims actually increased!! In other words, California plaintiff attorneys simply made up the “shortfall” with more volume.

Unfortunately, limited tort reform, regardless of the state, amounts to little more than a game of whack-a-mole. And the hammer still comes down on physicians.

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