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What medical malpractice reform could mean for you

Medical malpractice lawsuits are often hard fought. Many states have in place rigid malpractice laws which can make it difficult for injured patients to recover for their injuries. In spite of these already hard laws, both presidential candidates in the upcoming election stated recently that they support tort reform, which would include implementing harsher medical malpractice laws. A recent article highlights just how harsher malpractice laws could affect patients nationwide, including, in the state of Connecticut.

According to one expert, individual state malpractice laws are not adequate for patients or doctors. The laws vary so monumentally from state to state which means that one individual could be compensated much more for the same injury in one state, than if in a state that has limits on the monetary awards available in a claim.

The nationwide average recovery amount in medical malpractice suits is around $200,000. However, payments are much higher in some states, including here in Connecticut. In comparison, states like Kansas, Michigan and Texas yield much lower awards because they have damages caps on their books. One Connecticut experts speculates the awards are higher in the state because the cost of living is higher. Juries are presented with the state statistics on cost of living at the time of deliberation. These numbers may influence their decision in awarding damages.

A federal law on malpractice suits would mean everyone in the nation is treated equally in a claim. However, uniformity across state lines in medical malpractice litigation is not always a good thing. In fact, both presidential candidates mentioned medical malpractice in their recent commentaries to the New England Journal of Science and Medicine. Both candidates indicated that they supported medical malpractice reform, which could mean making it harder for injured patients to recovery monetary compensation for their injuries.

Source: Fierce Healthcare, "State Tort Reform,Outcomes Determine Malpractice Awards," Karen Cheung-Larivee, Oct. 29, 2012

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