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Ballot Initiative Would Raise Cap on Malpractice Awards


Consumer rights and attorneys’ groups are beginning the process of getting a measure on next year’s ballot to raise the limit on damages awarded in medical malpractice lawsuits.

Backers of the measure say the current $250,000 dollar limit is unfair to patients seeking just compensation for medical malpractice.

“Patients are at risk in California and they can’t hold negligent doctors accountable. We think it’s time to change that law,” says Carmen Balber with Consumer Watchdog.

She says the limit on the 1975 law should be raised to at least $1.1 million to keep pace with inflation.

But opponents say the measure will make it more difficult to practice medicine in California and limit patients’ options. Paul Phinney is President of the California Medical Association.

“It’s going to increase meritless lawsuits and lawyer fees, " says Paul Phinney President of the California Medical Association.  "It will increase healthcare costs for everyone. It won’t do anything to increase quality.” 

 The measure would also require physicians to submit to random drug and alcohol testing and check all prescriptions against a state database to avoid over-prescribing medicine to patients.


Max Pringle

State Government Reporter

Max covers the state capital, bringing more than a decade of experience in print and public radio, including reporting for KPFA, KQED and KALW. He traces his news roots to working on his his high school newspaper.   Read Full Bio 

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