Lawmakers have approved a controversial bill that would limit the amount of monetary damages for patients harmed by emergency room doctors' malpractice.

In most cases, the bill would cap a physician's malpractice responsibility at five hundred thousand dollars for death, disfigurement, permanent injury or loss of a body part. Republican sponsor Johnathan Rhyne says the measure is the result of a bipartisan effort between lawmakers. 

Malpractice Bill Seeks to Protect ER Docs

Mar 4, 2011

This week, the North Carolina state Senate approved a bill making changes to the medical malpractice system. Part of the bill would change the rules for suing emergency room doctors for malpractice. Supporters say it’s necessary to allow doctors to practice more freely in this high risk area. But opponents say it goes too far in limiting access to compensation for people harmed in the E R.

Impact of Medical Malpractice Cap Unclear

Mar 3, 2011
Boone family
Rose Hoban

At least thirty states across the country have enacted some form of cap on the so-called pain and suffering damages available to victims of medical malpractice. Republicans in the General Assembly have repeatedly introduced similar legislation in North Carolina, but in the past have been stymied by Democrats. This year, another bill capping damages and changing the medical malpractice system is making its way through the legislature. And with Republicans in control it has a good chance of passing the General Assembly.

A bill that would limit the amount of monetary damages for patients harmed by doctors has passed the State Senate. The measure would limit awards to $500,000. It would also make it more difficult to sue emergency room doctors.

Republican Senator Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville says the bill would help lower malpractice insurance premiums for doctors and therefore bring more physicians to the state. He told fellow lawmakers he's been working on the measure for years.