About two years ago, Iowa medical malpractice law changed in a way that benefitted healthcare providers. The law, signed by the governor in May 2017, capped non-economic damages at $250,000, thereby restricting the amount of money that patients can obtain for the pain and suffering they experience as a result of medical negligence. Our firm represents patients who have sustained injuries resulting from medical malpractice. We want to discuss some of the common myths about Iowa’s medical malpractice restrictions and the ways in which those myths can be harmful to a patient’s ability to obtain the compensation that he or she deserves.
- The $250,000 Non-Economic Damages Cap is AppropriateSince It Does Not Apply When a Patient Dies from His or Her Injuries
Iowa medical malpractice restrictions emphasizes that the non-economic damages cap does “not apply in cases involving permanent impairment, disfigurement, or death.” However, it would be a mistake to assume that the majority of patients who experience pain and suffering as a result of their injuries fit into this category. Many patients are unable to obtain the full compensation they deserve due to the cap.
- Injured Patients Rely Primarily on Economic Damages to Cover Their Losses
Economic damages cover only direct, objective financial losses that a patient suffers—such as hospital bills, medications, and the financial costs associated with follow-up doctor’s visits. Non-economic damages, differently, compensate patients for more subjective losses like pain and suffering. When a patient sustains a serious medical malpractice injury that reduces her enjoyment of life or causes significant pain and suffering, that patient should be able to obtain the full amount of non-economic damages that a jury determines to be appropriate.
- Capping Non-Economic Damages Is Essential to Lower the Overall Cost of Healthcare, So Patients Ultimately Benefit
A common myth about Iowa’s medical malpractice restrictions on non-economic damages is that patients ultimately benefit because limits on non-economic damages result in lower overall healthcare costs. According to an article in Forbes, which discussed a study conducted by researchers at the Harvard School of Public Health, medical liability reform has not been proven to bring down healthcare costs. As one of the articles of that study clarified, while “the amount of defensive medicine is not trivial . . . it’s unlikely to be a source of significant savings.”
- Healthcare Providers Should Not Be Liable for Unlimited Non-Economic Damages Because Medical Errors Are a Necessary Risk
Most medical errors occur because of a healthcare provider’s negligence, and capping non-economic damages does nothing to encourage healthcare providers to take greater care when treating patients.
- Capping Non-Economic Damages is FairSinceEconomic Damages Are Not Capped
As we mentioned above, economic damages rarely provide patients with the type of compensation they deserve after sustaining serious injuries that result in pain, suffering, and the loss of enjoyment of life.
Contact a Medical Malpractice Lawyer in Iowa
If you or someone you love sustained injuries because of a healthcare provider’s negligence, you should speak with an Iowa medical malpractice attorney about your case. Contact Telpner Peterson Law Firm, LLP for more information.