It seems that virtually every year there is at least one bill pending in Congress which seeks to impose “limits” of one form or another which target claims filed by victims of negligent conduct by the medical and/or pharmaceutical industry. Unfortunately, this year will be no different.
A new measure, entitled H.R. 5, is currently pending before the House in Washington. As with its predecessors, this latest measure seeks to impose various limits and caps on claims without regard to the legitimacy of the claim asserted. Gary Paul and Linda Lipson, of the American Association for Justice, have rightfully criticized H.R. 5, stating:
“It is hard to believe that we have elected representatives who would advocate for a law that would further harm individuals and families who are already hurting from the results of medical negligence.”
Mr. Paul and Ms. Lipson have raised several points which highlight the flawed reasoning behind H.R. 5. Here are a few examples:
- “Accountability [through the legal system] encourages safe healthcare. H.R. 5 destroys accountability [by limiting legal redress]”.
- “Instead of focusing on limiting patients’ legal rights, more attention should be paid to making sure people aren’t injured in the first place, which will save money and lives.”
- The Institute of Medicine found that 98,000 people die every year from preventable medical errors, at a cost of nearly $300 billion over 10 years.
- This amount doesn’t even include the costs associated with people who are injured but survive the event.
- Decreasing the number of patients killed by medical errors would have potential savings six times greater than tort law changes.
For those of you who may be willing to overlook the facts raised by Mr. Paul and Ms. Lipson which show that this measure is not the best way to address the costs associated with medical negligence, I have the following question: Our courts are designed to administer “justice”. Do you really believe that justice is served by passing laws which strip the rights of an innocent victim and protect the wrongdoer? Before you answer, remember that the next victim of medical negligence could be you or someone you love.
I urge every one of you to take a stand on this issue important issue. Stop this latest assault on your legal rights. Tell your representatives to vote “NO” on HR 5.