Jacksonville, FL (June 9, 2017) – The Duval County Medical Society (DCMS) opposes the Florida Supreme Court’s decision to throw out medical malpractice caps that were put in place in 2003. The law, which limited pain-and-suffering damages in medical malpractice cases, was ruled unconstitutional Thursday.
The ruling is a big blow for physicians across Florida.
"The Florida Supreme Court has circumvented our elected officials and hurt the future access and quality of medical care in the state of Florida,” said Dr. Ruple Galani, DCMS President-elect. “By overturning the medical malpractice caps, physicians now have to worry about a repeat in skyrocketing malpractice premiums and frivolous lawsuits instead of focusing their efforts on the care of their patients. With an ever-expanding population, Florida needs to recruit and retain the best and brightest physicians. With this decision, four judges alone are now responsible for enriching trial attorneys at the expense of our state's health and well-being."
Prior to 2003, physicians were leaving the state amidst a medical malpractice crisis. With an already existing physician shortage, this was devastating.
“The Florida Supreme Court has decided to legislate from the bench,” said Bryan Campbell, Chief Executive Officer of the Duval County Medical Society. “The majority opinion states there is no current medical malpractice crisis. That’s like saying there’s no measles outbreak in Florida, so we should stop immunizing children. The caps have worked to keep safe, effective, affordable care in Florida.”
Since 2003, unwarranted lawsuits have reduced dramatically. According to The Doctors Company, the exclusively endorsed medical professional liability insurer of the Duval County Medical Society, claims frequency in 2017 is approximately 40-45% lower than it was in 2003.
“This decision will significantly affect the tort climate in Florida, and it is expected that it will increase the frequency and cost (severity) of claims,” said Robert E. White, Jr., Senior Vice President and Regional Operating Officer for The Doctors Company. “The Doctors Company is disappointed but not surprised by this decision, and we will continue to work to balance the scales of justice in favor of the practice of good medicine."
The majority opinion in Thursday’s ruling was shared by Chief Justice Jorge Labarga and justices Barbara Pariente, R. Fred Lewis and Peggy Quince. The dissenting opinions were shared by justices Ricky Polston, Charles Canady and Alan Lawson.
“The majority ruling by the Florida Supreme Court will set Florida back to the early 2000s when medical malpractice premiums were skyrocketing and we were losing doctors to neighboring states,” said Dr. Sunil Joshi, DCMS Foundation President. “This ruling will be an issue particularly to Emergency Physicians, OB/GYNs and Surgeons who will likely look to relocate to a state that doesn’t allow trial attorneys to file frivolous lawsuits against the men and women spending their lives caring for the health of its citizens. The decision by the Florida Supreme Court will dramatically and adversely affect access to care for Floridians while lining the pockets of trial attorneys.”
Questions or concerns? Feel free to contact Bryan Campbell, DCMS Chief Executive Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org