Senator John Thrasher proposed a bill that could potentially save the University of Florida’s teaching hospitals millions of dollars each year at the expense of the patients. The bill, SB 626, proposes to grant University of Florida’s Shands hospital sovereign immunity and will limit the amount a patient can win from a lawsuit stemming from a non-physician employee’s mistake. Physicians are protected by Florida’s immunity protections, which caps the amount an injured patient can win in a medical malpractice suit at $100,000 for a single person and caps damages at $200,000 for those who are married or have children.
Shands estimates that the bill could save it upwards of $10 million each year in medical malpractice premiums. Shands has settled over 24 cases for $100,000 or more since 2007. The University of Miami’s teaching hospital, Jackson Memorial Hospital, has already been granted such immunity. “Language placing both Shands’ and the University of Miami’s teaching colleges under immunity protection is also included in sweeping Medicaid reform legislation introduced in the Senate Thursday.” Shands already has plans on how to use the saved money–“to offset costs associated with unreimbursed care given to the medically needy.”
Opponents claim that the bill has too many holes to be successful. According to one medical malpractice attorney, “The cap is already too low. For many, it is too expensive to even pursue claims.” The provision protecting doctors prohibits many malpractice doctors from taking on malpractice claims against Shands because lawyers “are unable to process the claims.” The bill is in the early stages of becoming legislation.
Thrasher’s bill would limit awards under medical malpractice lawsuits, www.thefloridatimesunion.com February 19, 2011.
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