The Virginia supreme court recently heard arguments about whether physician foundations could get immunity from medical malpractice lawsuits because of their charity work.
The state Supreme Court heard arguments yesterday that pitted the rights of patients injured by negligence against the medical community’s need to preserve its financial well-being in the face of growing indigent-care demands.
Lawyers on both sides of the issue have described it as the most significant matter taken up by the court regarding medical malpractice since 1990, when the Virginia Supreme Court upheld the state’s limit on malpractice awards.
If successful, tax-exempt physician foundations in Virginia employing about 1,200 doctors and supporting the state’s three medical schools could win immunity from malpractice suits because of the charitable care they provide the poor.
Medical schools claim they are covered because of the charity work they perform while plaintiff lawyers are objecting and say that granting this immunity will shield corporations whose real motive is profit not charity.