Tennesseans favor capping malpractice lawsuit damages

Tuesday, March 29, 2011 at 1:32pm

More than 60 percent of Tennesseans favor placing limits on “pain and suffering” damages in medical malpractice lawsuits, according to a public opinion poll paid for by the Tennessee Medical Association.

The TMA released the poll results Tuesday in an attempt to bolster Gov. Bill Haslam’s bill to cap jury awards and impose other new restrictions on lawsuits for injuries and deaths caused by negligence or wrongful actions.

Of the 620 Tennessee consumers surveyed, 61 percent said they favor a bill to cap jury awards for non‐economic damages, according to the TMA. For Tennesseans aged 65 and older, the support rises to 72 percent — the highest percentage among all age groups.

“This survey is a fair snapshot of adults in our state and it shows most of our citizens understand how high jury awards — or the threat of them — affect rising health care costs and their access to their doctor,” said TMA President‐elect Michael Minch of Nashville. “Despite what some of our opponents claim, older Tennesseans get the connection and want us to establish fair boundaries for these emotional awards, which have nothing to do with actual economic losses.”

Tennesseans are worried about losing their doctors if the state’s litigation climate does not improve, according to the TMA. Ninety percent said they are “very concerned” or “somewhat concerned” about doctors in Tennessee leaving the state or closing their practices due to the high cost of malpractice or the fear of lawsuits.

14 Comments on this post:

By: PromosFriend on 3/29/11 at 12:21

A cap on punitive awards really only helps small businesses to the extent that it makes their insurance costs lower. However, the cap would be a huge boon for big businesses. Think of a Wal-Mart sized business, or Averitt Trucking, or FedEx for example. If one of their drivers causes an injury accident it wouldn't cause any financial pain to the company at a measly $750K (plus compensatory damages), it would just be business as usual. The Dow Chem.s, Proctor and Gambles, Wal-Marts of the country need to feel financial pain in order to change bad behavior. Perhaps what is needed is three or four catagories of damage caps, commiserate with the size of the business' gross revenues.

By: jsnap on 3/29/11 at 1:21

Who did you say paid for this survey? Enough said. They did not call me, did they call you?

By: revo-lou on 3/29/11 at 1:34

It seems interesting in the never ending rhetoric of the GOP about free market, let things balance themselves, don’t interfere with the business of the people, that they are in fact ignoring all of those things. If there is a viable cause the case/court will bear that out and the process will work. If indeed the judgment is too excessive the judge has the ability to reduce it to an appropriate level. Why do the legislative and executive branches feel it necessary to dictate to the judicial branch on how to do their job?

By: JohnGalt on 3/29/11 at 1:47

"Who did you say paid for this survey? Enough said. They did not call me, did they call you?"

Since you weren't consulted the survey is obviously bogus.

By: brian21285 on 3/29/11 at 2:45

Jsnap, it's called a randomized survey. Try taking a research class sometime, you'll learn how surveys work.

You're obviously one of the reasons they needed to have this survey anyway. You probably look for reasons to take people to court.

By: FLeFew on 3/29/11 at 3:45

In testifying for the trial lawyers, Fred Thompson (who is one) said that jurys are allowed to sentence someone to death so they should be allowed to set unlimited awards. Jurys are limited on the manor of execution they can prescribe. They cannot demand a firing squad or stoning or hanging or tying them down on an ant hill as the Indians supposedly did according to Hollywood (Senator Thompson's other home). So, it follows that there can be a limit on the awards set by jurys.

By: Moonglow1 on 3/30/11 at 6:49

Moonglow1; caps are fine until you are the one severely injured. Medical malpractice awards are not causing medical costs to rise. The pharmaceutical companies, excessive diagnostic tests, & greedy insurance companies influence costs. I agree with the earlier post by Promos Friend. Caps benefit the large corporations only. They certainly won't help you if you are injured. And survey's can be written in such a way to skew the results so I would like to know what organization conducted the survey & what methodology they used.

By: LizzyD on 3/30/11 at 9:14

There are many things that need to be "cleaned up" in the entire "medical" scope of "professions" and corporations. Gigantic tort awards are so seldom in Tennessee that there is no need at all for this legislation. It is just another "we hate the little people and we want ALL their money" law. The very big corporations are now trying to pass legislation in the states that they have not been able to get passed by the federal government. This has nothing at all to do with somebody having a wreck in the company van, y'all. It has to do with BigPharma, BigHospitals, et al. They are killing people and maiming/sickening them for LIFE, and they want to be basically held pretty much "harmless." Sort of like those companies that want to build and operate a nuclear power plants, but they insist on being "held harmless" by contract, in any way--physically or fiscally.

That having been said, this article is a perfect example of the lazy and unethical practice of running public relations/advertising press releases in the editorial section of a newspaper, as if some "reporter" had investigated and written them. This appears to be 100% press release. So many facts are missing that it is meaningless, and the conclusions (although quoted) are presented as if they are "true." There is NOTHING in this article to suggest that this poll really did lead to the conclusions presented. It reeks of Rovian propaganda PR, actually.

This is a pitiful excuse for journalism. The TMA has a right to try, but the news media has an ethical obligation to recognize a one sided advertisement for what it is. I would have tried to make an appointment or three to get a "good story" out of it, OR, lacking cooperation or time, I would have turned it over to my ad department as a lead for an ad sale.

You just do not, with any integrity, run nonsensical garbage like this in your news hole, people. Get a grip. And PLEASE, call TMA and ask some questions and let us know how the hell they propose to speak for "Tenneseans" based on nothing but the totally unsubstantiated claims they have presented here. For all I know they could have "sampled" (randomly, but that's another story) oh, 20 people?

By: pswindle on 3/30/11 at 10:13

I do not believe that TN thinks this way. Businesses are taking over in TN and the US. The GOP lawmakers live by the money of the rich. Whatever they want the GOP delivers.

By: marymancini on 3/31/11 at 7:43

Can't seem to find the questions anywhere. Would like to see the wording. Here is more info about respondents:

"About the Survey" from the TMA website: "620 Tennessee consumers age 18 and older were surveyed between March 1 and March 11 by Catalyst Healthcare Research. The survey has a margin of error of plus or minus 4.0 percent. Respondents described themselves as 38 percent Republican or leaning Republican; 26 percent Independent; 28 percent Democrat or leaning Democrat; four percent other; and 5 percent refusing to identify their political affiliation. The sample was fairly distributed across state regions: 25 percent in West Tennessee; 37 percent in Middle Tennessee; 38 percent in East Tennessee. Gender was in line with the state’s population, 60 percent female and 40 percent male. Education level was higher than the state as a whole, with 51 percent at least having a college degree."

By: Moonglow1 on 3/31/11 at 3:01

Moonglow1: Mary, I found the Catalyst Healthcare Research website at http://www.catalysthealthcareresearch.com/

The company president is Dan Prince. I could not find any public information so it is likely that the company is privately held. I notice that Healthways is endorsing them. The company is located at Catalyst Healthcare Research • 200 31st Avenue North • Suite 200 • Nashville, TN 37203.

This from their Website:
Customer Experience is at the center of everything we do. We meet customers where they are to explore every touch point or just one. Our Reality Research delivers valuable insights and powerful stories that help you turn your customer's experience into your competitive edge.

Bottom line: they help companies achieve and exceed their bottom line.

By: LizzyD on 3/31/11 at 3:09

For all I know they sampled 20 Tennesseans, two of whom were seniors, and used questions designed to give the results they were seeking. I should trust in the TMA? What a joke!

By: LizzyD on 3/31/11 at 3:11

AND, a newspaper worth its salt does not run a press release such as this without checking it out. C'mon CityPaper people! Do some journalism, here.

By: Gary Lampman on 3/31/11 at 4:52

The Tennessee Medical Associations purports 61% agrees with Tort Reform. The truth is that these facts only hold up among Republicans and Doctors in the trade. A Push over for a crowd.

Please dont believe that setting limits will do anything but screw the consumer from being able to hold the Profession accountable. Truth is.... Sealing this deal only permits these institutions to become more deadly and permitting gross neglegence to fester as a common occurance. Will leave it to Republicans and Murder will become a legal state of mind. Protected from all legal remedies!
How much is your life worth a Penny for your thoughts or a nickel for your death. Who values life anymore ? We killed you and we did you a big favor. No more pain! Yes ....That is proof that DOCTORS ARE GODS!!!!!!!