Historic Medical Liability Reform Bill Passes General Assembly

The North Carolina Medical Society (NCMS) is pleased to report that the North Carolina General Assembly took historic action today to address serious problems with our medical liability system. Both the House and Senate gave final legislative approval to the first bill in 16 years to improve the practice of medicine as it relates to physician liability. The proposal, known as Senate Bill 33, will now go to Governor Perdue’s desk. The NCMS has worked tirelessly for many years to improve the medical liability system, to counter attacks on the medical profession, and to demonstrate the savings associated with such reform. Legislation passed today includes the following provisions: 

  1. Tackles excessive jury awards by capping noneconomic damages.
  2. Improves access to emergency care by requiring that any liability claim arising from treatment of an emergency medical condition be proved by “clear and convincing evidence.”
  3. Addresses the classic jury error of confusing bad outcomes with medical negligence by requiring juries to first determine if the physician was negligent before time is taken to present evidence of the severity of harm.
  4. Ensures that the right to appeal is preserved in cases of large jury awards by requiring the court to set appeal bonds based on consideration of relevant factors such as amount of policy limits and net worth of the defendant.
  5. Strengthens pre-litigation expert review of medical malpractice claims by requiring the reviewing expert to review all of the reasonably available medical records.
  6. Restores fairness to claims of medical negligence made on behalf of minors by requiring such claims to be brought in a more timely manner.

The NCMS is grateful for the leadership demonstrated by the NC General Assembly in addressing these issues in 2011. The genuine problems with medical liability system in North Carolina have gone unaddressed for far too long. Senate Bill 33 is the product of many, many hours of hard work by the NCMS and its coalition partners. Many medical specialty organizations, county medical societies, hospitals, health care interests and the business community have devoted their resources to this project.

 We urge Governor Perdue to sign Senate Bill 33 into law in order to implement reforms that make a real difference for physicians and their patients. The NCMS will keep its members apprised of developments in this area. For additional information, please visit either www.ncmedsoc.org or www.northcaroliniansforaffordablehealthcare.com.

Watch upcoming issues of the Bulletin for the latest developments on legislation and policy that affect all aspects of patient care.  The NCMS remains dedicated to providing “Leadership in Medicine” to improve the health care system for all North Carolinians.


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  • harry

    amazing the difference a conservative Republican state congress, not controlled by trial lawyers,can make. harry

  • stephen

    Great job.

    -An attorney married to a doctor.

  • Patrick Watterson PAC

    Now lets see if Bev signs it or she just gives in to her donor base. I wouldn’t celebrate yet but good job NCMS for pushing this needed bill.

  • Preecha Bhotiwihok

    I want you guys on my side!


  • William Wade Foster, M.D.

    FINALLY, a small life raft of reason in the malpractice seas of insanity that we swim in daily………

    a long overdue step towards taking the fear of malpractice out of the equation when ordering pertinent tests for the medical problems of our patients.


  • helen colevins


  • Kenneth P. Bullard

    Very good news.
    Although I escaped any suits during 33 years of practice before retiring in 2005, the threat was always a concern and the cost of insurance was quite a factor.

  • Thomas Stubbs MD

    Wow. And incidentally, #5 implies that all reasonably available medical records have to be produced in the first place.

  • Joey P Thomas

    This is a great step in the right direction.I congratulate the NCMS and it’s leadership for their sincere efforts.