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N.C. Medical Malpractice Reform - Not Supported By Facts

Posted by Christopher Shumate | Dec 17, 2012 | 0 Comments

The Republican majority of the North Carolina legislature is pushing several items of proposed legislature that significantly reduce the legal rights of N.C. citizens. One of the glaring problems with these bills is that there is little practical / common sense justification for these bills (other than obvious political motivation).

Senate Bill 33 has been proposed as a medical malpractice reform bill, with the essential justification to reduce healthcare costs and lower supposed out-of-control verdicts. However, the New England Journal of Medicine reports that preventable medical mistakes kill 4,000 patients and permanently injure 5,700 patiently annually in North Carolina alone. Medical malpractice kills more people annually in North Carolina than auto accidents, breast cancer, and murder combined.

Your elected officials are responding to these statistics: 9,700 of you severely injured / killed annually by medical malpractice annually. However, they are not responding as you would think; they are instead letting the insurance companies and doctors off the hook. The proposal (S.B. 33) proposes a uniform cap on damages. It doesn't matter how bad your injury is; it doesn't matter how badly you are maimed; it doesn't matter how long you have to live; it doesn't matter how bad the pain is; nothing matters! The damages are capped at $500,000. The facts of your case are irrelevant.

If you will note my recent blog posts, you will note there are a variety of legal scholars, including a Supreme Court Justice who has warned this proposal is unconstitutional. It is also just plain stupid. As for the stupidity, the proposal provides near immunity for emergency room physicians. Just ask yourself this question: if you should require emergency room care, would you want the physician to be held to a completely different standard of care than other doctors?

My challenge to you: think for yourself. Do you really think that allowing doctors to commit malpractice with no repercussions is going to help decrease healthcare cost? Do you really think that insurance companies are going to lower your premiums, and cut their profits? My expectation is that malpractice will occur at a much higher rate, while the injured patients have no recovery for their harm. As many people have no insurance, much of the resulting care needed will be pushed onto Medicare / Medicaid (two already bankrupt systems). For those of you who have health insurance, your premiums will continue to increase; they are not going to decrease.

My advice, contact your representatives promptly and voice your concerns specifically and loudly. The strong objection of various individuals is the only way that these laws will not be passed.

Op-ed: Patients deserve protection from medical mistakes, FayObserver.com, 02/27/11

About the Author

Christopher Shumate

Mr. Chris Shumate is a native of Gastonia, North Carolina, and worked various jobs while pursuing his undergraduate and Juris Doctor education, including several heavy manual labor and skilled trade positions. In his practice, Mr. Shumate often encounters circumstances where these prior experiences are helpful in representing you. Upon graduating law school from the University of South Carolina, Mr. Shumate joined one of the Carolinas' larger defense firms, where he represented a diverse set of employers and insurance companies in civil cases and workers' compensation claims across the Carolinas. Chris utilized this experience to obtain a working knowledge of the insurance industry, and build personal contacts used today in representing you. Mr. Shumate ultimately decided he wanted to focus his law practice on assisting those who have been injured, and doing so with the focus on a personal relationship that is uncommon in the bigger firms. Mr. Shumate's also has a passion for assisting those facing the challenges of the criminal legal system. By representing individuals in a variety of criminal and traffic matters, Mr. Shumate works to achieve the best possible result for each client regardless of the charges levied by the prosecution. Chris has tirelessly pursued his mission of helping people from all walks of life throughout the Carolinas with a variety of legal matters. If you are interested in learning more about Chris Shumate and The Shumate Law Offices, please contact us at 704.371.5059. We look forward to assisting you to achieve a positive result in your legal concern. Education J.D., University of South Carolina B.S., University of South Carolina Jurisdictions Admitted to Practice N.C. State BarS.C. State BarU.S. District Court Western District of North Carolina Professional & Bar Association Memberships N.C. Bar Association S.C. Bar Association Mecklenburg County Bar N.C. Academy Of Trial Lawyers American Association For Justice

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