A look at malpractice developments in five US statesArizona drops a bill consideration

On Monday, the state dropped a consideration on a bill which could have capped the noneconomic damages resulting from malpractice lawsuits,as reported by the Arizona Daily Star. The legislation had been lobbied by the Arizona Medical Association and the cap amount wasn’t specified and included a $250, 000 cap. The bill was sponsored by State Senator John Huppenthal who said that there were questions as to whether the bill could have garnered adequate support among voters at the state legislature. This bill required the state constitution to be amended where 182, 917 valid signatures were required for voter approval. According to JoJene Mills, this bill gives a blank check to the legislature and supporters of the bill aren’t open with the state voters.

Florida- a ruling on malpractice lawsuit made

In Florida, Judge James Case of Pinellas Circuit Court ruled that hospitals are not required to release records of a physician who is facing a malpractice lawsuit, as reported by the AP/ Miami Herald. The plaintiffs of the lawsuit which was filed against the St. Anthony’s Hospital were trying to get the records, citing Amendment 7. This ballot measure that state voters in November 2004 requires the hospitals to make adverse event reports public. The judge said that state Legislature now has quite a lot of work that needs to be done on this amendment before using it for using doctors.

Georgia- the governor signs the bill into law

Sonny Perdue, the governor of Georgia signed into law on February 16 a bill which caps non economic damages for lawsuits on malpractice at $350, 000 as reported by the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Preston Smith, state senator sponsored the legislation which also established incentives for patients to have their malpractice lawsuits settled out of court. In addition, the law will now be protecting physicians at the emergency department from malpractice lawsuits. Stricter requirements will also be implemented by the law for expert witnesses testifying against a physician charged with a malpractice lawsuit.

Kentucky- bill amendment

On Wednesday, the House Banking and Insurance Committee amended a bill for inclusion of a provision which called Governor Ernie Fletcher to gather a task force for studying the costs of malpractice insurance in the state. Provisions on the legislation requiring insurers of malpractice to offer physicians some discounts for not paying malpractice claims for the past years were eliminated by the committee.

Wyoming- a bill passed

 The state house voted to pass a bill 57- 2 which establishes a committee for reviewing malpractice lawsuits to assist in elimination of frivolous cases before proceeding to trial. The committee will include two physicians, one layperson and two attorneys. The committee will be hearing lawsuits on malpractice and give their opinion before such a case proceeds to trial.