SB 33 VETOED! View a Message from NCMS President John Mangum, MD

The NCMS learned today of Governor Beverly Perdue’s veto of Senate Bill 33: Medical Liability Reforms, despite the N.C. General Assembly’s support of meaningful medical liability reform. Now, the General Assembly is empowered to come back to Raleigh next month and override this veto. We ask that they do this in order to reduce medical and legal costs, increase access to care, and improve state health policy to benefit all North Carolinians.

SB 33 is a carefully crafted bill that includes a cap on noneconomic damages and important protections for emergency care that will help limit excessive malpractice awards in North Carolina — while still providing 100 percent of injured patients’ medical costs, lost wages, and substantial compensation for pain and suffering.

As a practicing Family Physician and a lifelong North Carolinian, I am truly disappointed with the Governor’s action. We have struggled for years to improve our legal system to help control health care costs, create jobs and make sure employers can offer affordable health care coverage for their workers. The support of our coalition partners including allied health care organizations, the N.C. Chamber of Commerce, and other groups demonstrates that this issue is in the best interest of moving our state toward economic recovery.

Join me in asking the General Assembly to override the Governor’s veto when they convene in July. The NCMS is planning meetings with legislators and other communications to make our voice known and opinions heard.  Please watch your email for critical calls to action on medical liability reform. Visit for more information.

 View a Joint Statement from the NCMS and the NCHA on this issue.


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  • Shirish Devasthali MD

    The Tort Reform Bill SB33 is a watered down bill – but it was not watered down enough for Governor Purdue and the Attorneys of NC. I believe that watering it down further will only make it a useless bill. The physicians of NC should come out in force to influence the legislature to OVERRIDE the veto. Blaming the lawyers for paying more for results is not helpful. It only re-enforces what we have learnt a long time ago that we also must take time away from our patients and invest with it along with money to influence our legislature. If we cannot get an override, we must influence the next election. I hope we physicians of NC have enough motivation to participate in the democratic process and take ownership of medicine in this state.

  • I e mailed Governor Purdue that if medical costs are to come down that defensive medicine must be dampened by restrictions on malpractice awards, so that expensive medical tests like MRI’s are not necessary for everyone with a headache or dizzy spell- it is impossible to practice evidence based medicine with a trial lawyer waiting for the outlier to happen so the result is 6 weeks in court and a headache for you instead.

  • Neil DeNunzio, MD

    Physicians have a long memory when it comes to things like this. This is a slap in the face to all NC Drs.

  • Anthony Dietrich, MD

    Has everyone commenting read the actual bill and Governor Perdue’s statement when vetoing it? I think it is important to hear both sides and avoid knee-jerk reactions that draw us into adversarial positions that make a resolution more difficult. As usual, the devil is in the details. I believe Gov. Perdue is in favor, as I am, of medical liability reform but opposed to certain components of the current bill. She says:

    “By working together, we enacted meaningful changes to our tort law (H.B. 542) and our worker’s compensation system (H.B. 709) this year. We can achieve real medical malpractice reform as well. I commend the legislature for addressing this important issue but, in its current form, the bill is unbalanced. I urge legislators to modify the bill when the General Assembly returns in July to protect those who are catastrophically injured. Once the bill is revised to adequately protect those that are catastrophically injured, I will proudly sign it into law. I pledge to continue working with the General Assembly to achieve a comprehensive, bipartisan consensus.”

    As reported in the News-Record today, “Perdue did sign the two other bills she mentioned, H.B. 542, ‘Tort Reform for Citizens and Business’ and H.B. 709, ‘Protect and Put NC Back to Work.’… the House vote on the bill was 62-44, short of the votes needed to over-ride a veto. Just as critical, 11 House Republicans voted with Democrats against the bill, including Greensboro Rep. John Blust. On the flip side, 11 Democrats voted with Republicans in favor” so this is clearly a bipartisan issue.

    If there is a failed attempt to override the veto, nothing is accomplished. Wouldn’t it be better to work together and modify the bill as she requested?

  • Jeremiah Montgomery PA

    Here is the letter sent to me…but I’m not buying it.

    June 24, 2011
    Dear Member of the Medical Community:
    I am strongly committed to passing meaningful medical malpractice reform. Doctors, hospitals and nursing homes in North Carolina are all being burdened by medical malpractice insurance rates that are too high.
    The physicians and hospitals in North Carolina are among the best in the world. Even among this group of dedicated, hard-working professionals, however, mistakes sometimes occur. The results can be catastrophic and can affect a family for a lifetime.
    As we enact needed medical malpractice reform, we must strike the right balance. Senate Bill 33 contains important reforms, including bifurcated trials and caps on damages. We need these reforms now. In its current form, however, Senate Bill 33 is unbalanced. I support the caps on non-economic damages but, as written, the bill does not sufficiently protect the most catastrophically injured.
    We can achieve real medical malpractice reform this year. I have urged the General Assembly to modify the bill to protect those individuals with catastrophic injuries. Once the bill is revised to adequately protect those with catastrophic injuries, I will proudly sign it into law.
    We can put into place meaningful, balanced reform that both provides relief to medical providers from exorbitant malpractice insurance rates and protects the rights of patients who are catastrophically injured. Working together, we can get this done quickly. We have already had important bipartisan achievements this year in both tort reform and workers’ compensation. With one small change, we can add medical malpractice reform to our list of successes.
    There is no time for delay; the stakes are too high. The General Assembly is returning to Raleigh in July. Please call your legislator and urge him or her to revise Senate Bill 33 so that we can enact a balanced solution now.
    Beverly Eaves Perdue

  • Letter to the Office of Beverly Perdue, Governor of NC
    It’s baffling why any reasonable public servant would veto this bill. My wife and I are lifelong democrats who have supported Governor Perdue in the past. That support ended today. In fact, I personally will do my best to guarantee that this term in office will be her last. It takes a lot to make this democrat vote against his party. However, shortsightedness in regard to a major issue like tort reform qualifies. The people of North Carolina deserve better.
    Patrick Maguire, MD
    Coastal Carolina Radiation Oncology
    Wilmington, NC

  • Patrick Watterson PAC

    No surprise. She will not burn her base of donations. Bev is bought and paid for. Replace her.

  • Chanson DeVaul

    We should remain hopeful that the General Assembly will continue to support reform in our state, and exercise their power to override this veto

  • Bart Williams MD

    Not a surprise-just a disappointment. Remember this both with your check book and your vote come November!

  • Prashant Patel, MD, FACP

    The Triangle Indian-American Physicians Society also is in agreement with the sentiments expressed by President John Mangum of the North Carolina Medical Society applaud him and all those who worked ardously to get SB33 to Governor Perdue’s desk. The veto is unfounded and this is a sad day for the healthcare industry in North Carolina and for the patients who otherwise could have been served better.
    The 2012 elections will be hotly contested to say the least. The North Carolina Indian-
    American PAC had also asked for Governor Perdue’s support on this issue, yet it as well the individuals it represents are enormously disappointed.

  • Did she give a reason? What was she thinking? The lawyer groups must have given her more “donations”.

  • Charles Davant, MD

    What is she thinking? I read her letter and I can’t see anything that might deal with “catastrophic” damages except for trial lawyers,

  • Robert m. Wein, MD

    I hope MDs remember this at election time.