A great advance in tort reform has just been struck down in Missouri, and the effects are predicted to be dire. The Missouri Supreme Court ruled against a law that placed a $350,000 cap on noneconomic damages in malpractice awards to prevent abuse of the courts and runaway jury verdicts.
Now healthcare providers, insurers and other groups are speaking out against this latest action. They point to a time when the governor and legislature were unable to settle on a medical malpractice liability cap. Before the cap was in place, physician insurance rates doubled and malpractice liability costs “skyrocketed.”
Ultimately, this decision may cause many physicians to stop practicing in Missouri – though they want to serve the Missouri people, they also have to sustain a practice. Sadly, they won’t be able to do that if they are forced to pay exorbitantly high rates for medical malpractice liability.
A mass exodus of qualified physicians from Missouri will be bad news for the health of patients and the business environment of the state. We need to recognize why doctors rely upon caps on damages, and restore these limits, before it is too late.