Blowback from Tort Reform: more complaints to the state licensing board?

Taralyn Mackay, in her blog “A Nurse Attorney’s Thoughts,” reports on this gem from the National Council of State Boards of Nursing regarding the impact of tort reform on nurses (and other healthcare providers, presumably):

The National Council of State Boards of Nursing met August 12th – 14th in Philadelphia. Approximately 300 Boards of Nursing executives and member delegates as well as interested organizations were present. During a discussion of Discipline Texas reported that since the state tort reform caps on punitive damages was passed in 2003, aggrieved consumers are turning to the licensing boards to seek redress and licensee sanctions. This is particularly troubling, given the varying burdens of proof between a court of law and an administrative proceeding. (Thanks to Rosemary for this update).

What this means is that previously when patients were unhappy with their care, they would sue in court but now they are reporting the health care professionals to their licensing boards because it is too difficult to sue for malpractice now. But do not think that this means that you do not need malpractice insurance–remember that malpractice insurance covers more that lawsuits and one of the major reasons to have coverage is for legal representation before the Board of Nursing.

Just another consequence of tort reform that is utterly predictable, yet was not ever considered by those proponents of tort reform.  Well, it will be good for my business when I am licensed, but not so good for my friends in nursing.


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