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Medical malpractice reform bill angers state lawmakers

A proposed bill in Congress regarding tort reform and medical malpractice has some state lawmakers and advocacy groups concerned in Maryland and across the U.S. The bill, introduced by House Republicans, would cap rewards for non-economic damages at $250,000.

In protest of the bill, the National Conference of State Legislatures drafted a letter arguing that medical malpractice cases have historically been handled by state governments, encouraging Congress to steer clear of the matter. The letter goes on to argue that a one-size-fits all approach would not be appropriate because of unique laws, traditions and circumstances in the various states.

Regardless of political stance, the bill certainly raises the question of what constitutes fair compensation for medical malpractice cases. One component remains unquestioned by either side: victims of medical malpractice deserve compensation for medical bills and loss of wages.

Since the monetary consequences of a medical error can be costly and lifelong, receiving compensation for economic damages can be critical to maintaining financial stability. The same goes for the issue of lost wages: any permanent injury suffered as a result of medical malpractice could significantly hinder the earning potential of an individual, which may, without adequate compensation, cause life-long financial hassles.

The bill before Congress would specifically put a cap on the allowable award for non-economic damages such as pain and suffering or the loss of quality of life. These are rewards generally granted as compensation for the emotional and physical hardship that a victim has suffered. Currently, these awards are granted on a case by case basis with regulations varying from state to state.

Source: The Hill, "State lawmakers blast House GOP's medical malpractice reform bill," Julian Pecquet, Mar. 14, 2012

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