In a new television ad, a North Carolina doctor speaks out against a bill to limit the rights of injured patients.
In the spot, produced by the NC Advocates for Justice, Dr. John Faulkner recounts how his wife was badly disfigured in a preventable operating room fire, and criticizes Senate Bill 33. The controversial legislation sets a one-size-fits-all cap on medical malpractice damages for disfigurement, mutilation, loss of limb, paralysis, pain, suffering, blindness and death.
In one version of the ad — ready for viewing at www.LetJuriesDecide.com and running throughout the state — Dr. Faulkner specifically references Sen. Bob Rucho, one of SB 33\’s sponsors, saying: \”My wife underwent a simple outpatient surgical procedure. The unimaginable happened — an operating room fire … Operating room fires should never happen — that\’s malpractice. Sen. Bob Rucho voted to cut damages for disfigurement caused by malpractice. The State House disagrees. It says let juries decide, not politicians.\”
In an earlier letter to lawmakers, Dr. Faulkner wrote, \”No one can put a \’cap\’ on my wife\’s pain and disfigurement – so how can the legislature put a cap on what it\’s worth? … Why do you think it\’s fairer for legislators to decide, rather than juries?\”
Other doctors have also spoken out against SB 33. Dr. Martin Brooks, an award-winning physician with a career spanning 50 years, has advised legislators that an arbitrary cap on damages for severely injured patients \”will reduce the quality of medical care given to the people of North Carolina.\”
Dr. Brooks, a member of the Board of Trustees of Southeastern Regional Medical Center in Lumberton, was awarded the state\’s highest honor, the Order of the Long Leaf Pine, in 2006. In a letter to lawmakers, he wrote: \”Every person\’s injuries are different. The amount of compensation they should receive as a result of medical mistakes should be based on the particular facts of each case and decided by a jury, not arbitrarily set by the legislature.\”
Senate Bill 33 — sponsored by Sens. Tom Apodaca, Harry Brown and Bob Rucho — is now the subject of concurrence negotiations between the Senate and House. Politicians supported by insurance and industry lobbyists are attempting to kill a House amendment passed with 46 Democrats and 21 Republicans in support that would exempt disfigurement, death, permanent injury, and loss of use of the body from the arbitrary cap.
The two physicians in the legislature – Senator Bill Purcell and Senator Eric Mansfield – support the House amendment that excludes severe physical injuries from the cap on damages.