Home / HEALTH / Indiana Bill Could Increase Cap on Medical Malpractice

Indiana Bill Could Increase Cap on Medical Malpractice

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The Indiana House committee has passed a bill that increases the amount of money a patient can get in a medical malpractice suit. This would update the existing cap that has been in place for just under 18 years, and its supporters say it’s a huge step forward. The old limit for medical malpractice was set at $1.25 million, but it will now be set at $1.8 million by 2019. It was originally planned that it would also rise with inflation up until 2031. This was then removed at a later consultation with the house though. Many supporters are calling this an important concession to the people who oppose the bill and worry about its effects. The bill was passed by an overwhelming margin of support in the House, with 90 representatives supporting it and 5 voting against it. Many described it as something that was long overdue.

Credit: Pixabay

Credit: Pixabay

One of the main arguments for raising the cap is that it is behind the times. Because the limit has not been raised since the late 1990s, the cap did not reflect the economic circumstances of today. This is a problem for anyone who wanted to pursue a medical malpractice claim. This will not affect many cases though because many of them are not aiming for the top end of the limit anyway. Others say that another reason for raising the cap is to protect patients and the law from constitutional challenges. This would have been possible because the cap did not previously keep up with the rate of inflation.  There are two sides to the debate though, with some happy and others unhappy.

The group of people who were pushing for this change to the law came from people who represent patients. This includes the lawyers and law firms that specialise in medical malpractice law. They want to be able to win higher compensation packages for their clients, and this is not unexpected. Their argument was clearly listened to very carefully and agreed with though. The aim was to strike the right balance between what was fair for patients and what was realistic. Most people still firmly believe that it is very important to have some kind of cap in place. Otherwise, the claims could start to get too high for doctors and hospitals to deal with.

The doctors associations were firmly against the rise of the cap. For them, a higher cap can mean having to pay out more money in compensation cases. They were also very concerned about how the change would affect their malpractice insurance. They claimed that their premiums would rise because the increased risk of big payouts. This is a big extra cost for doctors to take into consideration when they are planning budgets and trying to stay profitable. Some doctors did support the initial increase but were less keen on the cap continuing to rise with inflation in the future. Those people will have been won over by the amendment to the bill that ruled out future increases of the cap. This gave the House further confidence before the vote.

It was also argued by some people in Indiana that it could have an overall impact on the quality of care in the state. The logic behind this argument says that medical students may move to a different part of the country where the cap is lower. This could mean that the state suffers a shortage of doctors in the future, but whether this actually happens remains to be seen. The director of Medical Education at St. Vincent Indianapolis Hospital, Mary Abernathy, thought this to be the case. She said, “A rapid increase would create anxiety in young Hoosiers deciding whether to even train as a physician or even to stay and work in Indiana.” Windows 10 Free Download  |
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Local government officials are hoping that much of the extra cost will be shouldered by the insurance companies. This is not something that they have much control over though. If this were to happen, it would be possible to come out of the arrangement with success for patients, lawyers and doctors. This is an issue that will be monitored closely in the future to see which direction the wind blows. There could be further challenges and disagreements that need to be confronted in the future. For now though, there is not much the unhappy parties can do about it, until, at least, their predictions end up coming true.

It will be hard for the changes to remain in place if there is evidence that doctors are choosing not to practice in the state. This is not the kind of situation any politician wants to be dealing with because healthcare is a big issue for voters. And no politician wants to have to take the blame for damaging healthcare in the local area. But many local politicians feel that the impact that this will have on young doctors’ choices is being over exaggerated. They will all hope that this prediction turns out to be true in the long-term. Because if it’s not, it could mean that the whole issue is not as settled as it might appear right now.

Ultimately though, this is something that the best doctors should not have to worry about. Mistakes will always be made, but the changes could force doctors to be even more careful so to avoid malpractice cases. All medical malpractice cases come about as a result of someone not doing their job properly. So, if these changes manage to put these issues on the map and even reduce the rate of mistakes that occur in hospitals, everyone will be happy. Nobody wants these kinds of cases to exist at all because nobody wants to become a victim of medical malpractice. Greater safety checks and better staffing procedures could always help to make the situation better. But that would require greater investment in hospitals in the local area, and whether that happens is still uncertain. It will be up to doctors and hospitals to now react to the news that this bill has been passed by the House.

About Marvin Dumont

Marvin Dumont writes about emerging trends, business and technology for various media outlets. Inquiries: marvin.dumont@utexas.edu

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