If you are a patient severely injured by medical negligence in Colorado, your ability to be compensated for this is extremely limited. In fact, Colorado has among the most severe medical malpractice compensation “caps” in the nation.
Unlike for other injured Colorado victims, or for patients hurt by medical negligence in almost any other state, Colorado limits the total amount of compensation available for injured patients. That limit is $1 million and it applies in every case, although the judge has some discretion to increase this limit if it’s deemed “unfair.” Further, only $300,000 of this can be attributed to non-economic damages (damages awarded for blindness, loss of fertility, permanent disabilities, severe pain etc.) and, unlike the state's general non-economic damage cap, these numbers are not adjustable for inflation.
Additionally, if more than $150,000 in future damages are awarded (for things like future medical costs) the patient generally is not permitted to get this money in a lump sum. It is paid in periodic installments to the patient while the insurer holds onto it, collecting interest.
A Dangerous Patient Safety Environment
Severe limits on liability and accountability of hospitals have an impact on patient safety, and Colorado is no different. In its National Report Card on the State of Emergency Medicine, the American College of Emergency Physicians graded Colorado “D minus” for its abysmal “Access to Emergency Care” and gave it a “C” for its problematic “Quality and Patient Safety Environment.” There's no funding for quality improvement of the Emergency Medical Service system, no uniform system for pre-arrival instructions, only 25.7% of hospitals have electronic medical records, and the state has no stroke system of care.
In addition, a recent study of wrong-site surgery at Colorado hospitals published in the Archives of Surgery found “a persisting high frequency of surgical ‘never events’” i.e., preventable errors that should never happen in a hospital. The researchers found,
A total of 25 wrong-patient and 107 wrong-site procedures were identified during the study period. Significant harm was inflicted in 5 wrong-patient procedures (20.0%) and 38 wrong-site procedures (35.5%). One patient died secondary to a wrong-site procedure (0.9%). The main root causes leading to wrong-patient procedures were errors in diagnosis (56.0%) and errors in communication (100%), whereas wrong-site occurrences were related to errors in judgment (85.0%) and the lack of performing a "time-out" (72.0%). Nonsurgical specialties were involved in the cause of wrong-patient procedures and contributed equally with surgical disciplines to adverse outcome related to wrong-site occurrences.
If you would like to do something, please go here to find out how to contact your state representatives!