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Monetary Cap on Malpractice

October 19, 1987

Some further thoughts concerning California's cap on non-economic losses for malpractice in medicine at $250,000. We all agree that justice must be done. I am a practicing physician and have the right to sue others if I should be a victim of malpractice, as well as being sued for my deeds. I can see both sides of the question. The doctor who is one of the so-called "bad apples" should be dealt with appropriately so as not to inflict further harm to patients. Our current court system tends to deal primarily with monetary solutions to a complex problem. The doctor could pay any judgment and still be in business.

Our society needs and wants competent medical care at affordable prices. We in California are fortunate because the Legislature did pass the MICRA act in 1975. We still have adequate obstetricians, neurosurgeons, orthopedists, etc., so all of us, potential patients, have benefited.

To deal with the occasional individual who feels his reimbursement of $250,000 is inadequate and wishes further protection, let's turn to the private insurance companies and ask them to write policies for anyone wishing this protection. It has been authoritatively estimated that the per person cost of medical malpractice in this country is about $12 per year. I believe it would be profitable to the insurance industry to write such policies.

The bad doctor could then be given appropriate disposition. In addition to the monetary obligations, we need non-economic sanctions such as suspension of license, retraining, early retirement, closer monitoring of patient care, etc. With these ideas both affordable medical care continues and the errant physicians are weeded out more vigorously.

T.G. HOSTETLER, M.D.

Oxnard

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