Legislative panel approves medical malpractice bill

side note: In Nevada where it appears that Assembly Bill 495 will be passed, the impact on physicians will be increased rates for medical malpractice insurance and some physicians may relocate to other states. The stated purpose of the bill is “to allow patients who are victims of gross medical negligence to sue for unlimited pain and suffering damages.” The practice of medicine is still more art then science. Adverse outcomes can and do occur without negligence.

By Cy Ryan
Las Vegas Sun
Opponents claim bill will raise insurance for doctors and drive them out of state

By an 8-6 vote, an Assembly committee approved a bill to allow patients who are victims of gross medical negligence to sue for unlimited pain and suffering damages.

Supporters of Assembly Bill 495 said the bill will protect patients who are harmed by bad doctors. Opponents said it will drive physicians insurance rates up and prompt doctors to leave Nevada.

The bill, approved by the Assembly Judiciary Committee, goes to the floor of the Assembly.

Assemblyman William Horne, D-Las Vegas, said bad doctors are protected by the current law and the bill provides a “good compromise.”

There has been criticism of the state Board of Medical Examiners that it has not punished bad doctors or acted swiftly when patients were endangered by bad physicians.

Assemblyman Ty Cobb, R-Reno, said the “net effect” will be to raise the insurance rates on all doctors, not just the bad ones. There will be fewer doctors in the specialties the state needs, he said. In a prior hearing, insurance and doctors predicted enactment of the bill would drive medical malpractice insurance up by 50-65 percent.

The present law limits non-economic damages in medical malpractice suits to $350,000. This bill would permit unlimited damages for instances of gross negligence. It would also give patients an extra year to determine if they should bring suit.

The bill will come up for a possible vote in the full Assembly next week.

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