Yesterday was a historic day in North Carolina. By a 74-42 margin, the North Carolina General Assembly overrode the Governor’s veto of SB 33, clearing the way for medical malpractice reform to become law.
This is a tremendous victory for the people of North Carolina and their physicians.
Senate Bill 33 – Medical Liability Reforms accomplishes the following:
1. Tackles excessive jury awards by capping noneconomic damages.
2. Controls unnecessary medical testing by requiring that any liability claim arising from treatment of an emergency medical condition be proved by “clear and convincing evidence.”
3. Addresses the classic jury error of confusing bad outcomes with medical negligence by requiring juries to first determine if the physician was negligent before presenting evidence of the severity of harm.
4. Ensures that the right to appeal is preserved in cases of large jury awards by requiring the court to set appeal bonds based on consideration of relevant factors such as amount of policy limits and net worth of the defendant.
5. Cuts down on frivolous lawsuits by requiring the pre-litigation reviewing expert to review all of the reasonably available medical records.
6. Restores fairness to claims of medical negligence made on behalf of minors by requiring such claims to be brought in a more timely manner.
This huge victory can be attributed to teamwork involving the entire medical and business communities.
First, we would like to thank the General Assembly for carefully crafting, debating and ultimately passing the most meaningful piece of medical liability reform in our state’s history, which will benefit the entire state by saving health care dollars, improving access to care and minimizing frivolous lawsuits.
We realize it is impossible to list every organization and individual that has contributed to the ultimate success of medical liability reform in North Carolina. Please allow us just to say “thank you” to all of the individuals and organizations that contributed their time, money and other resources to this effort. This success is the result of many unsung heroes laying the foundation over many years for the eventual outcome that occurred yesterday.
We are especially grateful for the work of the component medical and specialty societies, the medical group managers, hospitals, nursing homes, chambers of commerce and other business organizations, all of whom put forth special efforts to make medical liability reform a reality.
When you look back upon the passage of this bill, we can say without hesitation that this coalition of the medical and business communities was successful because of the individual members that engaged on behalf of their organizations. If you made a phone call, wrote a letter, encouraged a peer or met with a legislator — YOU made this happen. With heartfelt appreciation, we say to you, “Thank you.”