Rep. Phil Gingrey (R, CA) was an obstetrician for 30 years before being elected to Congress in 2002. Now, he’s taking the lead on a bill that would severely limit payments to patients who have been the victims of malpractice. According to Gingrey, too many malpractice suits today are “frivolous.”
Interestingly, Gingrey himself has been involved in several malpractice suits, including one that was settled for $500,000. The settled suit was brought by a pregnant woman who alleged that negligence caused the loss of her fetus and other problems. The woman had acute appendicitis that, when left undiagnosed by Gingrey and several other doctors, led to a burst appendix and a serious maternal infection that killed the fetus and caused a debilitating stroke in the mother.
The money was paid in 2007 to settle a medical malpractice lawsuit brought against several doctors, including Representative Phil Gingrey…Since then, the Georgia Republican has introduced earlier versions of the bill and has been among the leading Congressional advocates of efforts to limit malpractice awards…
The legislation being sponsored by Dr. Gingrey would, among other things, limit damages for pain and suffering in malpractice cases to $250,000, restrict fees paid to lawyers representing patients and create alternative means to lawsuits for resolving medical disputes.
The bill would also bar the awarding of punitive damages in cases brought against manufacturers of drugs, medical devices and other products that are approved, cleared or licensed for sale by the Food and Drug Administration. –NY Times
Patients who are legitimately harmed by malpractice shouldn’t have to suffer even more just because a doctor-turned-Congressman has an axe to grind. Malpractice cases that are truly frivolous get thrown out before they get a chance to go to trial. The ones that have merit should be decided by a jury rather than by an arbitrary rule suggested by a former doctor who’s been sued. Nearly 100,000 people die every year as the result of medical negligence; this is anything but frivolous. Rather than work to limit patients’ rights, Congress should work to protect patient safety and prevent malpractice in the first place.