$250k cap could save 25% of malpractice payouts

A $250,000 cap on noneconomic damages in medical malpractice cases would have saved 25% of nearly $1.2 billion in malpractice settlements and awards paid in Florida in just three years, according to a new report by Floridians for Quality Affordable Healthcare.

Florida is one of several states considering such a cap as one strategy for addressing its medical malpractice crisis. The 29-page analysis of state records reveals that unless lawmakers limit non-economic awards, referred to as pain and suffering, patients risk losing access to high-risk medical procedures and the physicians who are willing to perform them.

The cost of malpractice is eating up to one-third of some physicians’ net revenues, leading scores of doctors to close their practices, retire early, or stop offering high-risk procedures.

Physicians are packing up and leaving Florida and states with similar legal environments such as Mississippi, Nevada, Pennsylvania, Texas, New Jersey and West Virginia; New York and Illinois are not far behind, says David E. Berman, principal investigator on the report and senior vice president of business development at iBX Group, a Deerfield, FL-based company that specializes in financial, administrative, and technology services for the health care industry. He says the results from the Florida study probably could be found in most other states battling a malpractice insurance crisis.