Steve King, Iowa Congressman, has been pushing a new medical malpractice bill in the state of Iowa that would place significant caps on the damages victims of medical errors can potentially receive after filing a medical malpractice claim against doctors or medical institutions in our state. This bill, H.R. 121 (often referred to as the anti-accountability bill), aims to limit the rights of U.S. citizens by taking away the right to obtain a fair settlement amount through trial by jury.
H.R. 1215 passed last month in the U.S. House of Representatives by a few votes, but every Democrat and several Republicans voted against it. Rep. King has tried to claim that the bill would encourage more doctors to practice in Iowa since it would lower the costs of practice insurance. This claim is misleading, however, since statistics point to the fact that Iowa doctors already pay some of the lowest insurance rates in the nation for medical liability.
Voters and lawmakers must also realize the fact that preventable medical errors are currently skyrocketing. This is partially due to the fact that more Americans are seeking medical care than ever thanks to programs like Obamacare. Many of our state’s hospitals and medical clinics are indeed shorthanded, but placing a government-mandated cap on the value of life is not the way to decrease errors from being made. It’s also not the way to encourage more doctors to work at our facilities.
Placing a cap on medical malpractice claim awards may actually lead to more preventable errors being made, in fact. If there aren’t significant repercussions for making mistakes that are 100% preventable, hospitals and staff training departments may become more lenient regarding accident preventative programs and efforts. Treating medical patients like livestock is not the solution.
Instead, we need to place value in every patient and ensure our facilities are adequately staffed and receive the proper training to reduce the overall amount of medical errors that occur. It’s a simple fact that medical malpractice lawsuits help reduce medical errors and are only useful when they can grant victims the financial compensation they need to fully recover. One-size-fits-all low compensation amounts will only discourage medical institutions from reducing errors.
If you’d like to voice your opinion about how poorly the H.R. 1215 bill may shape Iowa’s healthcare future, do so in the comments of this article or join the Iowa Association for Justice’s other endeavors to help keep matters of civil justice in the hands of Iowa residents.