H.R. 1215: A Threat to Medical Patients Nationwide

In the past few months, our nation’s congress have been trying to push forward a bill known as H.R. 1215. While the congressional website’s explanation is more than a little unclear to the layperson’s eye, its goals are simple and dangerous: to protect the medical industry’s profits, even at the endangerment of patients.

H.R. 1215 would impose statutes of limitations shorter than those in the majority of states. Also, it would remove all liability from hospitals, nursing homes, and health care providers in cases against drug companies over unsafe drugs, even if the provider negligently prescribed or administered the drug. Hospitals could injure patients with improperly-prescribed medications and by federal law be at no fault.

The most significant and dangerous impact of H.R. 1215 is a $250k cap on all non-economic damages caused as a result of medical errors. A $250k cap would apply in all cases, even in situations in which lives were lost or patients were disabled as a direct result of medical malpractice. Furthermore, while many states have laws rendering such an economic cap unlawful, H.R. 1215 would supersede them.

Consider that further. If this bill were passed into law, an intoxicated doctor could paralyze or kill a young, able-bodied patient, and no matter how the Court or Jury felt about the situation, the maximum non-economic damages that could be levied would be $250k, period. With this cap in place, medical institutions are at far less of a financial incentive to provide an acceptable standard of care to each and every patient. That patient receiving sub-standard care could be you or someone you care about.

As we have mentioned previously, medical errors are the third leading cause of death in the U.S., behind only heart disease and cancer. If H.R. 1215 is passed, medical errors may not remain #3 for very long. Let’s all hope and pray that our Congress realizes the danger they are bringing us near, and make the right decision for our country’s collective health.