Nevada is amongst about a dozen states which voted in new Tort Reform. This is to say, they’ve made laws that refine and define, and limit how much may be awarded, and who must pay, in the case of a malpractice judgement. The Nevada changes are good news for everyone. The physicians and their Professional Malpractice insurance carriers are pleased, of course, but it also means lower costs and better care for the patients as well.
When a physician has to worry about being sued for millions of dollars, he’s going to have to be more careful. He’s going to order redundant lab tests, to be certian of his diagnosis. He’s going to spend a lot of time documenting every little thing he does, instead of tending to more patients. And if there is a lawsuit and the plaintiff wins, those costs, too, willl eventually be passed along to the patients, in the form of higher premiums which lead to higher fees for services.
One of the important changes is the abolishment of joint and several liability. Previously, if a judgment was made against several defendants, they were all indvidually responsible for the entire amount, even if they had little or no part in the injury. The most wealthy were often named just because they could pay, even if they didn’t do anything wrong. Nevada law now requires the court to assign a percentage of fault — anywhere from none to 100%, and each defendant is responsible only for his portion of the total award. Another amongst the differences is the limiting of Exemplary judgements.
Tort Reforms can go a long ways towards allowing a physician to provide better care for his patients. It’s good to see Nevada is amongst those states spearheading such important and necessary changes.