A bill approved by the U.S. House of Representatives would undermine the ability of Americans to be compensated for errors made by hospitals, doctors and other health providers, said New York State Bar Association President-elect Seymour W. James, Jr.

"The bill would restrict the ability of a victim to be fairly compensated for medical malpractice," said James of New York City. The bill puts a $250,000 cap on the amount an injured patient can receive for non-economic damages (also known as pain and suffering).

"Caps on pain and suffering unjustly discriminate against negligence victims who suffer the most devastating physical and psychological losses. Caps discriminate against children, homemakers, retirees and others with little or no earnings," James said.

"In addition, imposing caps could hurt all Americans, because it would diminish the deterrent effect of the current system, which encourages doctors and medical institutions to be more vigilant in the efforts to avoid medical errors."

"Congress should not interfere in an area of law that has long been within the jurisdiction of the states, which are the repository of experience and expertise in these matters," James added.

The 77,000-member New York State Bar Association is the largest voluntary state bar association in the nation. It was founded in 1876.


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