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Georgia Medical Malpractice Caps Affect Patient Rights to Compensation

A congressional committee, which has been convened to look at ways to trim the federal budget and reduce budget deficits, has been hearing from physician lobby groups and other representatives of the healthcare industry.According to these people, healthcare costs can be reduced by limiting damages available to patients through medical malpractice lawsuits.As any Atlanta medical malpractice lawyer will tell you, nothing could be further from the truth.Opponents of medical malpractice caps and Atlanta medical practice lawyers know that this is an old trick – raising financial concerns during these troubled economic times in order to limit patient rights to compensation after being seriously injured by medical negligence.

Medical malpractice lawsuits are an essential part of policing the conduct of doctors and other medical professionals. Just as with anyone else in our society, each medical professional should be responsible for their own conduct in causing a personal injury or wrongful death. Further, the presence of such claims forces physicians and other medical professionals to make certain they are both aware of and adhere to appropriate standards of care. In reality, approximately 5% of the physicians commit approximately 90% of the medical errors which occur. However, the medical professional has refused to revoke the medical licenses of medical doctors who are consistently negligent in their care of patients.

The Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction has been considering ways to reduce budget deficits, and will be considering healthcare cutbacks as part of those measures.A number of consumer safety groups, including the Alliance for Justice, Center for Justice and Democracy, Consumer Action, Consumer Watchdog, Consumers Union, Patient Safety America, Public Citizen, and Texas Watch have written a letter to the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction.

The letter calls on members of the committee to evaluate the great expenses that are likely if any caps on medical malpractice damages are implemented.According to the letter, any limits on the amount of compensation available to patients in a medical malpractice lawsuit, would hardly save health-care-related costs.According to the Congressional Budget Office, these savings would amount to no more than 0.4% of healthcare costs.Even that is a poor estimate.

However, the costs to patient safety are likely to be substantial.In the absence of limits, the Congressional Budget Office estimates that the death rate would increase by 0.2%, with another additional 4, 000 people being killed every year in medical negligence cases.Additionally, a patient, who has no recourse to medical malpractice damages to cover compensation for serious injuries, may be a heavy burden on Medicare and Medicare.These are taxpayer-funded programs that are already under immense strain. In fact, the Joint Select Committee on Deficit Reduction is considering cuts to some of the programs covered by Medicare and Medicaid.Any additional strain on these programs would be catastrophic.

Additionally, there are other losses that the administration can expect, including the liens or subrogation interests that Medicare and Medicaid usually claim after a successful medical malpractice lawsuit.The worst effect of any cap on compensation for victims of medical negligence would be the lack of accountability for physicians, nurses and other medical personnel.Currently, medical malpractice laws and the fear of lawsuits are the only deterrent to medical negligence.In the absence of these limits, there would be little accountability, and this would affect patient safety.

The Atlanta medical malpractice attorneys at the Katz Law Firm represent persons injured through medical errors, medication errors, surgical errors, misdiagnoses, hospital-acquired infections and other forms of medical negligence in the metro Atlanta region and across Georgia.