Victims of malpractice recognize legislation

Edwardsville Intelligencer
Tuesday, August 29, 2006

The one-year anniversary of the enactment of limits on compensation for victims of medical malpractice was marked this week by those most affected by the legislation.
Together with the Center for Justice and Democracy, Citizen Action/Illinois, and USAction, victims of medical malpractice and their family members called for Illinois lawmakers to repeal the limits.
Twenty of them sent a letter to Gov. Rod Blagojevich and the General Assembly asking the lawmakers to "repeal this cruel law, which hurts innocent Illinois citizens and has done nothing to reduce doctors' insurance costs."
They said the enactment of the law "was a political coup for the insurance industry" and "a nightmare for injured patients."
"Some of us or our family members have lost limbs, suffered brain damage or blindness, or even died," said Tammy Schilt from West Salem , who suffered severe injuries after a sponge was left inside her during the birth of her son, Kelsey. "It is the role of juries, and not politicians, to decide how much our injuries are worth. Patients should not be stripped of their constitutional rights to have their cases decided on an individual basis by juries, and should not be subject to a 'one size fits all' cap on compensation."
Donna Harnett, whose son, Martin, was left with cerebral palsy after a delivery related injury, said, "The Illinois cap is devastating for families like mine who have suffered catastrophic injuries. If there had been a law then like the one that exists now, it would have torn our family apart and my son would be in an institution."

Mark Fraley, acting director of the Center for Justice and Democracy-Illinois, also called for the repeal of the caps.
"These caps were enacted despite repeated evidence that the insurance industry's mismanaged underwriting and investment practices, not litigation, cause malpractice insurance rates to rise," he said. "It is wrong to try to solve this insurance problem on the backs of injured patients. The real problem is the unacceptable degree of medical malpractice that exists in Illinois , which still must be addressed. This brutal and unfair law needs to be repealed."

For a copy of the complete article, contact CJ&D.

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