Illinois Gov. Rod Blagojevich has signed a medical malpractice law that caps noneconomic damages at $500,000 in cases against physicians and increases regulatory oversight of medical liability insurers in the state. The legislation includes a $1 million cap for hospitals, and allows physicians to apologize for errors without such statements being used against them in court.
The medical establishment, which has sought the changes for years, said the law will reduce the cost of liability insurance and stop the migration of doctors who may be leaving the state because of high costs. "Every patient and physician in Illinois should be happy to know that positive change is on the way," said Craig Backs, president of the Illinois State Medical Society.
Previous attempts to impose a cap have been declared unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court, and lawyers are already mounting an effort to have the legislation overturned, saying it strictly limits the rights of plaintiffs in cases where doctors have made errors.