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California's Proposition 46 would change malpractice caps

According to a recent report, support for a measure that attempts to decrease the number of possible medical malpractice incidents in California is not stable. The report suggests that support for Proposition 46, which would raise caps on pain and suffering payouts and require drug testing of physicians, decreases after voters learn about the possible side effects the law might have on health care costs.

According to polling data, approximately 61 percent of voters would support the proposition. However, that figure fell to 37 percent after the voters heard arguments for and against the proposed changes. The individuals polled featured over 1,500 individuals who were registered to vote in the state. The report suggests there may be a 3 percentage point margin of error for the figures.

Arguments in favor of the proposition focus on the increased accountability that healthcare providers would face if the caps were increased from $250,000 to $1.1 million and the doctors were subjected to testing. The arguments against the proposal suggested that increased caps on pain and suffering awards would drive of the cost of care.

The support for the measures changed when the different parts of the proposition were explained to respondents individuals. For example, the drug-testing requirement received positive responses from 68 percent of respondents. However, only 42 percent of voters favored the increase of the award caps.

Even as steps are taken to change the limits of medical malpractice awards and groups try to reduce such incidents, patients might still suffer injury due to a physician's or hospital's negligence. Those victims may be able to pursue compensation for damages and pain and suffering through lawsuits filed in civil courts. Attorneys who are familiar with those claims may be able to guide plaintiffs throughout the process.

Source: Los Angeles Times, "Poll: Weak support for Prop. 46 targeting medical malpractice", Melanie Mason, September 13, 2014

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