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US Senate defeats bill to limit malpractice claims

BMJ 2003; 327 doi: (Published 17 July 2003) Cite this as: BMJ 2003;327:124
  1. Deborah Josefson
  1. Nebraska

    A US bill that would have put an upper limit on medical malpractice claims for pain and suffering at $250000 (£153350; €221350) has been narrowly defeated in the Senate by a vote of 49 to 48.

    The defeated bill, which was based on a Californian law, the Medical Injury Compensation Reform Act, also sought to limit punitive damages to either $250000 or twice the costs of medical expenses, lost wages, and other economic costs, whichever was greater. Additionally, fees of lawyers who take malpractice cases on a contingency basis would also have been limited.

    The bill was supported by President Bush, the American Medical Association, and most Republicans. Unlike the Californian law, however, which protected only physicians from extremely high malpractice claims, the bill also sought malpractice protections …

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