Massachusetts physicians are rallying today in support of a bill to tighten the state's $500,000 cap on noneconomic damages for malpractice cases, the Massachusetts Medical Society reports.
A bill in the state Legislature that the society supports would eliminate the ability of a judge or jury to waive the cap, allowing noneconomic payments to go much higher, a spokesperson for the medical society says.
The new bill also would eliminate joint and several liability, providing for judgments based on one's share of responsibility; provide a full collateral source rule, ensuring that plaintiffs do not collect economic damages from more than one source; and allow structured settlements after $50,000, allowing judgments to be paid over time.
More than 1,000 people, mostly doctors, were expected to attend the rally, the society reports.
The rally "is quite simply a loud, clear statement from our physicians on the critical need for reform," says society President Charles Welch, M.D., in a release. "The medical liability system as we know it is highly flawed and is severely reducing access to care by patients of all ages for services of all kinds."
Despite the current cap, the average amount of paid claims in the state has been rising since the late 1990s, according to the Massachusetts Board of Registration in Medicine. Average medical liability premiums for physicians over the past three years have risen by 9%, 14% and 12.5%, respectively, the board reports.