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American Academy of Emergency Medicine

AAEM and FLAAEM Concerned Over Florida Supreme Court Ruling Removing Cap on Non-Economic Damages for Medical Malpractice

FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE
March 17, 2014

Contact: Laura Burns
              Communications Manager
              lburns@aaem.org
              800-884-2236

MILWAUKEE — The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) and the Florida state chapter of AAEM (FLAAEM) are concerned about the effect of Thursday’s ruling by the Florida Supreme Court and its implications for the emergency medicine community.

The court’s 5-2 ruling will remove caps of $500,000 on non-economic damages and $1 million on damages on wrongful death claims, originally set in place in 2003. In response to the ruling, the president of the Florida Medical Association, Alan Harmon, MD, noted that the caps were originally enacted “to counter the out-of-control litigation that was driving physicians out of the state and discouraging new physicians to locate in Florida. The caps have helped begin to stabilize the medical liability climate in Florida. Insurance premiums, while still high compared to other states, have started to level off since the caps were put into place.”1

David A. Farcy, MD FAAEM FCCM FACEP, president of FLAAEM, echoes concerns that the ruling may increase costs and limit access to care stating, “Physicians will return to practicing a more defensive type medicine by ordering more tests to protect themselves, resulting in increased health care costs, longer wait times and length of stay in the emergency department.” Dr. Farcy also noted that the decision may discourage new medical graduates and other specialists, such as OB-GYNs and General Surgeons, from remaining in Florida due to the high cost of medical malpractice premiums.

Mark Reiter, MD MBA FAAEM, president of AAEM, added that "AAEM is committed to a future where all patients presenting to our emergency departments are cared for by emergency medicine specialists. This ruling is a major step back as many emergency physicians in Florida may now choose to leave what has now become one of the worst medicolegal environments in the country."

 

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The American Academy of Emergency Medicine (AAEM) is the specialty society in emergency medicine today. As an organization, AAEM believes achievement of board certification represents the only acceptable method of attaining recognition as a specialist in emergency medicine.

For more information, please visit www.aaem.org or call 800-884-2236.
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1. Press Release, Florida Medical Association “Supreme Court Invalidates Medical Liability Caps” http://www.flmedical.org/Supreme_Court_invalidates_caps.aspx.

 

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