March 01, 2011 was a horrible day for North Carolina residents. The state judiciary committee approved a bill proposing essential immunity for emergency physicians for their negligence. The proposal further caps non-economic damages at $500,000. The bill passed the Senate 36-13. All Republicans voted for the bill plus Democratic Senators William Purcell (Scotland), Eric Mansfield (Cumberland), Michael Walters (Robeson), Stan White (Dare), and Ed Jones (Halifax).
Proponents of the bill erroneously argue the need to protect hardworking doctors from frivolous lawsuits. However, they ignore one obvious truth; that the current law provides safeguards against frivolous lawsuits. In fact, 465 medical malpractice lawsuits are filed each year in North Carolina, contrasted with 1.5 million emergency-room visits annually. Furthermore, the 465 annual lawsuits equates to less than 5% of the 9,700 patients killed or permanently injured every year due to medical malpractice. In other words, only 1 in 20 patients who are severely harmed by a preventable medical mistake files suit. So, it's clear the proponents of this legislation have ulterior motives.