On March 20, 2017, the Iowa Senate passed Senate File 465 by a partisan vote of 28 (all Republicans) to 21 (20 Democrats and one Independent), which now heads to the Iowa House, which imposes severe medical malpractice tort reforms in an effort to attract more physicians to Iowa.
One Iowa Senator justified his support of Senate File 465 by noting that Iowa ranks 43rd in the United States per capita with regard to physicians, which he attributes to the costs of medical malpractice insurance premiums in Iowa: “Clearly, we need to make our malpractice climate more inviting.”
Senate File 465
Senate File 465 provides with regard to awards of noneconomic damages in claims against health care providers: “The total amount recoverable in any civil action for noneconomic damages for personal injury or death, whether in tort, contract, or otherwise, against a health care provider shall be limited to two hundred fifty thousand dollars for any occurrence resulting in injury or death of a patient regardless of the number of plaintiffs, derivative claims, theories of liability, or defendants in the civil action.” Source
Senate File 465 further provides that standard of care experts named on behalf of Iowa medical malpractice plaintiffs must establish all of the following: “1. The person is licensed to practice in the same or a substantially similar field as the defendant, is in good standing in each state of licensure, and in the five years preceding the act or omission alleged to be negligent, has not had a license in any state revoked or suspended; 2. In the five years preceding the act or omission alleged to be negligent, the person actively practiced in the same or a substantially similar field as the defendant or was a qualified instructor at an accredited university in the same field as the defendant; 3. If the defendant is board-certified in a specialty, the person is certified in the same or a substantially similar specialty by a board recognized by the American board of medical specialties or the American osteopathic association; and, 4. If the defendant is a licensed physician or osteopathic physician under chapter 148, the person is a physician or osteopathic physician licensed in this state or another state.” Source
Senate File 465 would also impose an additional hurdle to be overcome by Iowans injured as a result of medical negligence – Iowa medical malpractice plaintiffs would be required to provide an affidavit of merit from their medical malpractice expert: “In any action for personal injury or wrongful death against a health care provider based upon the alleged negligence in the practice of that profession or occupation or in patient care, which includes a cause of action for which expert testimony is necessary to establish a prima facie case, the plaintiff shall, prior to the commencement of discovery in the case and within sixty days of the defendant’s answer, serve upon the defendant a certificate of merit affidavit signed by an expert witness with respect to the issue of standard of care and an alleged breach of the standard of care. The expert witness must meet the qualifying standards of section 147.139.” Source
While the Iowa Senators who support Senate File 465 focus on drawing physicians to Iowa by imposing restrictions on Iowans who are catastrophically injured by medical malpractice through no fault of their own, opponents of the proposed Iowa medical malpractice reforms note that Iowa medical malpractice lawsuits have fallen by 39% during the last decade, with one Iowa Senator warning that limiting recoverable damages in medical malpractice cases in Iowa will shift to Iowa taxpayers the burden of paying for the mistakes of negligent health care providers, calling Senate File 465 an “arrogant assertion that we under the golden dome know better how to decide.”
If you or a loved one were harmed as a result of medical malpractice in Iowa, you should promptly find a medical malpractice lawyer in Iowa who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.
Visit our website or call us toll-free in the United States at 800-295-3959 to find medical malpractice attorneys in your state who may assist you.
Turn to us when you don’t know where to turn.