AB 495, heard in Assemblyman Bernie Anderson’s Judiciary Committee, was an all-day affair. The hearing started at 8 am with another bill, then proceeded for three hours until the floor session interrupted the proceedings. The Committee then reconvened at 6:30 pm to hear the rest of AB 495 and then still had another bill to hear after that!
AB 495 would roll back the med-mal reforms that almost 60% of Nevada voters approved back in 2004. The bill, as introduced, would repeal the limit on “non-economic” damages (pain and suffering) and would extend some of the time frames that plaintiffs have to file a claim.
When the hearing opened, the Nevada Justice Association (Justice League?) presented an amendment that would keep most of the current law, but would allow a verdict of “gross negligence” to be used to get around the non-economic damage cap.
We know that prior to 2004, physicians’ insurance rates were rapidly increasing, doctors were threatening to leave our state, and a trauma center in Las Vegas actually closed due to a lack of available specialists.
Since 2004, rates have decreased by as much as 30%, Nevadans have saved almost $400 million a year, and doctors are staying put. Even California has stricter caps on lawsuits than we do!
Of course, the reason we are having these discussions is the disgusting endoscopy clinic scandals that occurred last year. This is a perfect example of a few very bad actors causing havoc for all of the good doctors in our state.
This bill attempts to deal with the few by punishing everyone.
The Chamber testified that if the insurance rates of doctors go up, the insurance rates of EVERYONE goes up. The threat of lawsuits will not increase just the insurance rates of bad doctors, it will increase the rates for every doctor, who will then pass on the cost to YOU.
This bill allows trial attorneys to run amok and put right back where we were at the beginning of this decade.
We need to figure out a way to punish the bad actors and protect the public. The Legislature has been diligently working on increased inspection and review requirements. One option is to drastically increase criminal fines on doctors and nurses who, for instance, reuse needles, take their licenses away, and maybe even put them in jail.
Which is a greater deterrent? Potential jail time or a payout by your insurance company?
Let’s punish the bad doctors without burdening the entire state with higher insurance costs and provider shortages.