Las Vegas Sun

March 24, 2019

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Mayor’s staff to examine medical malpractice crisis

Unhappy with the flight of doctors from Nevada, and saying the state Legislature's attempt to fix the medical malpractice crisis has not worked, Las Vegas Mayor Oscar Goodman has city staff trying to find a solution.

During his weekly news conference on Thursday, Goodman said he assigned newly hired city management analyst James "Brin" Gibson to look into the matter.

Goodman said he doesn't know what city staff could contribute to the search for a solution.

"Hopefully we're going to come up with an answer," Goodman said. "I have a city attorney working on this, too."

A doctor who pushed for the new law and a governor's spokesman said Thursday that although the mayor's heart is in the right place, he should give the new law more time to work.

During a special session in July, the legislature passed a law that puts a $350,000 cap on pain and suffering awards, although there are exceptions. A judge can order a high award is justified, and a jury may consider special circumstances, such as gross malpractice, that results in death or paralysis. The law went into effect Oct. 1

"In fairness to the system, it was not expected to lead to reductions in premiums right away," said Dr. Ikram Khan, a Las Vegas surgeon who was the governor's liaison with a physicians task force that pushed for the cap. "Our hope is that it will stabilize the market as a whole. But it could take two to three years for the rates to go down."

"It's a good law and deserves a chance to work," said Greg Bortolin, a spokesman for Gov. Kenny Guinn.

Khan and Bortolin said they had not heard that Las Vegas city staffers were looking into the issue.

Goodman's announcement came two days after U.S. Sen. John Ensign, R-Nev., also said Nevada's new law has fallen short. Ensign, who is pushing for a law in Congress, said the time has come for national reform of medical malpractice laws.