Wis. Medical Society: Jury Awards Nine Times Former Limit

Cap on pain and suffering crucial in protecting health care system

Madison (February 3, 2006) What has been happening throughout the country already has begun in Wisconsin, less than seven months after the Wisconsin Supreme Court invalidated the state’s monetary limit on noneconomic damages in medical liability cases.

A Dane County jury this week awarded $8.4 million, including $4.25 million in damages for pain and suffering, to a patient who had suffered serious health problems following surgery. The former cap on such noneconomic damages in Wisconsin was $445,000. Wisconsin has not limited awards for medical expenses and other tangible economic losses.

“There are no guarantees in medicine. No matter how skilled or how careful a doctor may be, risks still exist,” said Mark Belknap, MD, president of the Wisconsin Medical Society. “Of course, we’re all saddened when a patient’s outcome doesn’t turn out as everybody hoped, but the health care system can’t afford many multi-million dollar awards for noneconomic damages, as is clear from other states in crisis,” added Dr. Belknap.

The Wisconsin Medical Society already is hearing reports that it’s becoming more difficult to recruit physicians to Wisconsin because word is out about the state’s changed medical liability environment.

Following Governor Doyle’s recent veto of a bill that would have reinstated a cap on pain and suffering awards, lawmakers are working on new legislation to limit such awards.

The Wisconsin Medical Society has created www.keepdoctorsinwisconsin.org to educate and empower the public so citizens can support public policy that prevents runaway jury awards from damaging our health care system.

The Wisconsin Medical Society is the largest association of medical doctors in the state with more than 10,000 members dedicated to the best interests of their patients. With that in mind, Wisconsinmedicalsociety.org offers patients a unique source for reliable, physician-reviewed medical information. The Wisconsin Medical Society, a trusted source for health policy leadership since 1841. Your Doctor. Your Health.