AAI Says Caps on Non-economic Damages Key to Resolving Nev. Med-Mal Crisis

July 30, 2002

The Alliance of American Insurers is hopeful that a special session of the Nevada state Legislature meeting early this week to consider caps on non-economic damages will help alleviate the current medical malpractice availability crisis in the state.

“The Alliance supports such legislation because it will place a damper on medical malpractice litigation that is threatening the state’s health care system,” Peter Gorman, vice president of the Alliance’s Western Region, said.

The special session was called by Gov. Kenny Guinn after a walkout by doctors at Las Vegas’ only trauma center caused it to close for 10 days earlier this month. The physicians working at the University of Nevada Medical Center cited the high cost of medical malpractice insurance and the lack of caps on jury awards for pain and suffering as the reason for their work stoppage.

Like the Alliance, many doctors in Nevada are pressing legislators to institute a package of reforms similar to MICRA, a set of reforms enacted by California in 1975 that limits non-economic damages to $250,000.

According to the Nevada Medical Association, the average jury award in malpractice cases last year was $2.7 million. It also noted that over 100 doctors have left Clark County (where Las Vegas is located) since the crisis began earlier this year.

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