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The tyranny of medical malpractice damage caps

Here's a fundamental problem with medical malpractice damage caps. They allow doctors and hospitals to shift the cost of care for patients injured due to the doctor's medical malpractice to taxpayers via Medicaid instead of their medical malpractice insurance carrier.

This is sadly ironic, as many doctors and hospitals are vehemently opposed to socialized medicine as is available in Canada or Great Britain, often arguing that the free market will provide the best health care.

The statistics do not support their arguments and the U.S. ranks consistently at the bottom of the most healthcare rankings when measured against other industrialized nations. But they fully support "socialized insurance" when it insulates them from their mistakes and errors.

Doctor's organizations and insurers make claims that raising Indiana's damage caps would "increase the number of lawsuits." Of course, it would, as valid cases today often cannot go forward because it would cost more to litigate the case than could be recovered under the inadequate medical malpractice damage limits.

What they don't add is that these injured patients do not magically become healthy. They remain sick, injured or dead, and the costs they and their families incur still exist. Instead of having the doctors responsible pay for the injuries they caused, the taxpayers wind up covering much of these costs.

The other problem is that by limiting lawsuits, substandard doctors who have caused these injuries may never be held accountable, and may go on to injure other patients. If they had to pay the full cost of the damage they cause, they potentially could be driven out of the practice of medicine by their own increasing medical malpractice insurance costs.

Source: southbendtribune.com, "Family keeping up fight against malpractice cap," Associated Press, January 4, 2015

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