Statistics from recent years provide information that over 98,000 deaths have occurred in hospitals due to medical errors (malpractice); and this does not include injuries both inside and outside of hospital settings caused by medical errors.
In view of such alarming statics, surprisingly our Missouri State Legislature, especially by actions in 2005, have passed laws that severely limit the monetary recoveries that an injury person or family can receive in meritorious cases for death and grievous injuries caused by medical negligence, malpractice conduct. These severe limitations have negatively impacted patient’s rights and have had a chilling effect on individuals pursuing legitimate cases for medical error.
From the legal perspective and from the rule of law perspective, these limitations have overlooked and violated basic fundamental constitutional rights to an inviolate right to a trial by jury, equal protection of the law, and the separation of the powers between the legislative and judicial branches of government.
However, there is currently a legal challenge that has been made on the basis of the violation of these basic constitutional rights in the case of Watts v. Cox Medical Center. In view of these strident limitations and caps that the legislature has imposed on these types of cases, there is no wonder that the Bar and public at large, now await in hopeful anticipation that the Missouri Supreme Court will sustain the challenge, and by judicial decision reverse the unconstitutional restraints and limitations that have been imposed by this legislation. A decision in this regard is expected over the next couple of months.