House looks at medical-malpractice overhaul

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Soon after the Florida Supreme Court rejected a damage cap in medical-malpractice cases, the Florida House heard testimony Monday on HB 739, a proposal that would dramatically overhaul the malpractice legal system.

State Rep. Jason Brodeur, sponsor of HB 739, told the House Judiciary Committee that lawmakers must “quit nibbling at the edges” when revamping the malpractice system.

A group known as Patients for Fair Compensation backs Brodeur’s bill, which would use medical review panels to determine whether medical errors caused patient injuries, keeping many cases out of the courts.

Critics of the bill include the Florida Medical Association, the Florida Chamber of Commerce, the Florida Insurance Council, the Florida Justice Reform Institute and the Florida Justice Association, many of which saying they believed the proposal would increase the number of malpractice claims.

“We know we have problems with medical malpractice,” said Florida Insurance Council lobbyist Paul Sanford. “What we do is the critical thing and how we get there.”

The committee meeting was only a workshop without a vote on the legislation filed prior to Thursday’s Supreme Court ruling.

The Court ruling found a 2003 law limiting damages in wrongful-death malpractice suits unconstitutional. 

Peter Schorsch is the President of Extensive Enterprises and is the publisher of some of Florida’s most influential new media websites, including SaintPetersBlog.com, FloridaPolitics.com, ContextFlorida.com, and Sunburn, the morning read of what’s hot in Florida politics. SaintPetersBlog has for three years running been ranked by the Washington Post as the best state-based blog in Florida. In addition to his publishing efforts, Peter is a political consultant to several of the state’s largest governmental affairs and public relations firms. Peter lives in St. Petersburg with his wife, Michelle, and their daughter, Ella.