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No med-mal cap legislation this year

There will be no effort to change the medical malpractice cap in this session of the General Assembly.

Representatives of healthcare organizations and the Virginia Trial Lawyers Association met with the chairmen of the House and Senate Courts of Justices Committees earlier this week to advise them of the ceasefire.

Jack Harris, executive director of the VTLA, said the two sides met several times over the last year to discuss what he described as “serious proposals.” Because progress continues to be made, the parties agreed to take the cap off the table and meet in late April, Harris said.

The cap legislation was last altered early in this decade with a cap that increased every year through 2009. It stands now at $2 million.

Harris said the parties are in the same posture on another issue, the degree of privilege health care providers should have in their investigation of medical errors for the purpose of assessing and improving health care.

Health care providers contend that a 2006 case from the Supreme Court of Virginia, Johnson v. Riverside Hospital Inc., left them with too little freedom to pursue such investigations without having the results used against them in malpractice cases.

By Alan Cooper

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