Honored Doctor Says NC Malpractice Bill “Just Plain Wrong…Will Reduce Quality of Care”

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Dr. Martin Brooks, an award-winning physician with a career spanning 50 years, today advised legislators that a proposed cap on damages for severely injured patients “will reduce the quality of medical care given to the people of North Carolina.”

Dr. Martin Brooks, an award-winning physician with a career spanning 50 years, today advised legislators that a proposed cap on damages for severely injured patients “will reduce the quality of medical care given to the people of North Carolina.”

Dr. Brooks, a member of the Board of Trustees of Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, was awarded the state’s highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in 2006. In a letter delivered today to members of the NC Senate, Dr. Brooks objects to the elements of Senate Bill 33 that have drawn criticism from other champions of patient safety:

  • In malpractice cases, SB 33 sets an arbitrary cap of $250,000 on damages for disfigurement, mutilation, loss of limb, paralysis, pain, suffering and death.
  • SB 33 grants hospitals and ER doctors immunity when they commit malpractice.

Dr. Brooks writes: “Those who provide care and treatment must be held accountable for the preventable injuries and deaths that are caused by their failure to meet well established standards of practice.

Likewise, arbitrarily limiting the amount that an injured patient can recover for non-economic damages to $250,000 without any consideration of the nature, extent and permanency of their injuries is just plain wrong.

Every person’s injuries are different. The amount of compensation they should receive as a result of medical mistakes should be based on the particular facts of each case and decided by a jury, not arbitrarily set by the legislature.”

Dr. Brooks cites a recent article in the New England Journal of Medicine indicating that 4,000 patients die and 5,700 patients are permanently injured in North Carolina hospitals every year because of preventable medical mistakes.

Dr Brooks’ concerns -- delivered to key lawmakers Sen. Pete Brunstetter, Tom Apodaca, Harry Brown and Bob Rucho -- match those of the NC Coalition for Patient Safety, a coalition of doctors, nurses and patients.

Similarly, NC Supreme Court Justice I. Beverly Lake Jr., a conservative Republican, has called the proposed cap “unnecessary and unconstitutional.” Retired NC Supreme Court Justice Edward Thomas Brady, a fellow conservative, has joined Lake in publicly condemning the cap.

The NC Advocates for Justice recently launched a multi-media campaign urging North Carolina voters to protect their rights by opposing SB 33. For more, please visit http://www.LetJuriesDecide.com.
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Todd Barlow
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