Malpractice fight focuses on court vote

Cincinnati Enquirer
Tuesday, October 12, 2004

Why do doctors in Ohio care so much about Judith Lanzinger, and why should you?
Political groups representing doctors, hospitals and business interests are paying serious attention to a race involving candidates most voters have never heard of:
The race for the Ohio Supreme Court.
Lanzinger is one of seven people running for four seats on the seven-member court. Nov. 2 will be one of the few times a majority of seats will be elected at the same time.
To health-care interests in Ohio, no race is more important.

Health-care groups also say rising malpractice costs eventually could reduce doctor supply, which in turn could harm the quality of care.
However, public records show that the number of doctors practicing in Ohio has been growing for years. And other groups, especially trial lawyers, unions and some consumer groups, say a person's ability to seek relief from the court system could be undermined by efforts to tilt the Supreme Court.
"From the patient's point of view, caps on damages are incredibly unfair and harmful to people who are harmed through medical malpractice," said Pamela Gilbert, spokeswoman for the New York-based Center for Justice and Democracy, which has opposed malpractice reform proposals at the federal level.
"Pain-and-suffering damages are meant to compensate for the intangible but very real harm suffered from the permanent loss of a limb, of vision, of disfigurement or pain," Gilbert said. "What a cap on these damages does is say that no matter what happens to you, your pain is never worth more than $350,000."
For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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