Iowa has joined a host of other states limiting cash awards to victims of medical malpractice. Gov. Kim Reynolds signed the bill in mid-February, placing a $2 million limit on noneconomic damages awarded by juries in cases involving hospitals. The cap is $1 million for awards against independent clinics.
The restrictions apply to pain and suffering, mental anguish, loss of chance, loss of consortium and other so-called “noneconomic” damages. The cap does not apply to economic damages, which include medical costs, lost wages, physical therapy and other potential financial losses for victims.
Access to care vs. victims’ rights
When signing the bill, which went into effect immediately, Gov. Reynolds repeated hospital executives’ charges that Iowa’s history of sizable medical malpractice awards was the most significant barrier to recruiting new physicians. Supporters say the legislation will increase access to care as a result.
But even many Republicans took issue with that saying that putting limits on pain and suffering only helps insurance companies. Democrats offered a compromise, proposing higher caps, with insurers passing any savings to medical providers. Republicans rejected those proposals.
Recovering from a medical mistake
Studies suggest that one in every five Iowans has been affected by medical malpractice. Many of these mistakes are avoidable, and some result in death or long-lasting or permanent injuries. These errors take a physical, financial and mental toll on victims and their families.
While Iowa now limits what victims can recover for their mental anguish, it’s crucial to document all the medical expenses related to your injury, the amount of time you couldn’t work or any other out-of-pocket costs. Experienced legal guidance can help you recover financially so you can focus on your physical well-being.