A top Duval doctor predicts a statewide shortage of doctors as a result of the state Supreme Court ruling on Friday.
The court ruled 5-2 to reject a damage cap on victims and surviving family members of medical malpractice. Non-economic damages (pain and suffering) were limited to $1 million in malpractice cases involving wrongful-death claims. The law was enacted in 2003 under Governor Jeb Bush.
“At the present time, the cap on non-economic damages serves no purpose other than to arbitrarily punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members,” Justice R. Fred Lewis wrote.
But Dr. Daniel Kantor, the President-elect of the Duval County Medical Society, says the ruling is “not overall good for Florida” because it will “dramatically” increase the cost of medical malpractice insurance in the state.
“When you make it more and more difficult to practice medicine in this state, then you make it less likely that patients have high-quality care,” Dr. Kantor says.
He says before the law was enacted, doctors were leaving Florida “because it was a scary place to practice medicine.”
Kantor says the ruling will also make it difficult for veteran doctors to attract young, new physicians to the state. He says it’ll be more attractive to practice in other states like Texas were the cost is a lot less.
Those in favor of the ruling argue the cap on non-economic damages - such as pain and suffering - serves no purpose other than to punish the most grievously injured or their surviving family members.