South Florida Hospital News
Thursday August 13, 2020

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July 2017 - Volume 14 - Issue 1


Hold On! A Glimmer of Hope: Two Medical Tort Reform Bills Being Considered in Washington!

Between the Trump administration’s recently released proposed budget and the Republicans’ American Health Care Act, hope is being rekindled for possible relief from Washington on recent tort-reform setbacks in Florida, as well as many other states where tort reforms passed in the late 2000s have been overturned.

Two bills currently in the Congress sausage machine:
In the U.S. House of Representatives, there are currently two bills addressing tort reform. The first, by Republican Representative Phil Roe of Tennessee, formerly an OB, creates safe harbors for doctors who follow predetermined practice guidelines that he proposes be established by the U.S. Department of Health & Human Services choosing specialized entities such as medical societies, including the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists, to write the clinical-practice guidelines. Any patient suing a doctor would first have to prove that the doctor was not following the guidelines. Most importantly, the burden of proof would fall on the patient, as the presumption would be non-negligence.   
The Protecting Access to Care Act, filed by Republican Representative Steve King, is the second bill being considered. The bill limits attorney fees, imposes a three-year statute of limitations, replaces joint and several rules with a fair-share rule, and creates a $250,000 cap on all non-economic damages, so this sounds like every doctor’s dream!  
If either bill passes and is made into law it would greatly benefit doctors, and would quickly reduce the cost of defensive medicine for medical practices and malpractice insurance.
The increasing number of “runaway jury” awards, known as “shock losses” in the malpractice insurance industry, is a big reason for the high cost of medical malpractice insurance. High jury awards are mostly based on the non-economic portion of judgements and create havoc for insurance companies that rely on highly skilled actuarial experts to recommend pricing levels, since these shock losses are very difficult for anyone to predict.
Trump’s budget assumes a savings of $55 billion by the enactment of just the $250,000 cap on non-economic-damage awards, so I do believe we will see a concerted Republican push for tort reform sooner rather than later to take advantage of their current control of both houses of Congress and the White House. The medical community’s slogan should probably be “If Not Now, Never”.

Matt Gracey, medical malpractice insurance specialist with Danna-Gracey, can be reached at (800) 966-2120 or

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