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Letters: A better Rx for California's malpractice cap

July 27, 2013

Re "Battle lines drawn in fight to raise malpractice awards," Column, July 25

George Skelton's simple solution to adjust for inflation California's $250,000 malpractice award cap for pain and suffering is not so simple.

The medical community has no problem with victims being paid appropriate damages for cases of true malpractice. Unfortunately, the majority of alleged malpractice cases that work their way through our legal system are cases of bad outcomes and not malpractice. The two are not equivalent, but our tort system makes it profitable for attorneys to file suit with the expectation of reaching a settlement.

The true victims are those patients who deserve greater compensation and the physicians who have to practice defensive medicine and pay exorbitant malpractice premiums.

A better reform would be one rejected by the trial attorneys: Allegations of malpractice should be screened by a committee of physicians, attorneys and lay people to determine if the case meets the definition of malpractice or is just a bad outcome. Cases with merit would go forward, and the cap on pain-and-suffering payouts would be adjusted for inflation.

Philip Schwarzman, MD

Marina del Rey

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