Medical Malpractice Reform Bill Nears Committee Approval

On Thursday, the Senate Judiciary 1 Committee came one step closer to finalizing its work on a proposal to reform and improve the medical malpractice system in North Carolina. See Senate Bill 33 – MEDICAL MALPRACTICE REFORMS (Apodaca, R-Buncombe; Brown, R-Onslow; Rucho, R-Mecklenburg). Committee chairman Pete Brunstetter (R-Forsyth) distributed a draft that included several of the amendments presented at the committee’s meeting on Tuesday.

The new draft would provide some limited protection for emergency care providers, permit separate trials for determinations of liability and damages, cap noneconomic damages at $500,000 per defendant per occurrence, allow for periodic payment of large future damages awards (over $200,000), allow judges to limit appeal bonds based on relevant factors, and require experts that provide preliminary certification of malpractice claims to review the available records beforehand. The committee is expected to vote on the proposal next week. Additional changes may be made before that vote occurs.

The NCMS continues to work aggressively in support of medical liability reform. Physicians are encouraged to contact your state Senators and ask them to support Senate Bill 33.


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  • thomas walsh MD

    as Dr Barowsky has said, what a joke that the Senate Comm would change the limit on non-economic damages from $250K total to $500k per defendant! the best benefit from true relief for physicians will be our ability to follow evidence based protocols and tell patients and their families “respectfully no” when they ask for an unnecessary test or imaging study. how else are we really going to save money in our complicated health care delivery system?
    in addition, ho about this for an idea, if a physician follows a protocol, he or she is exempt from litigation?

  • R T Barowsky, MD

    Changes to non-economic damages limits is totally unacceptable. By allowing a ceiling of $500,000 for each defendant named instead of a total ceiling for the case of $250,000 plaintiffs attorneys will simply fill the defendant’s side of the equation with the names of every MD who has ever had the misfortune of seeing the plaintiff for medical care? How does this rein in the cost of defending oneself from specious and irrelevent claims?