LOS ANGELES -- Two years ago last week, Olivia Cull, 17, was taken off life support. The standout student -- who planned to study classics at Smith College -- had slipped into a coma during a routine, outpatient procedure at Mattel Children's Hospital UCLA in Westwood.
The story of her death was presented to Congress a few days ago, among cases cited by patient advocates pushing to lift the caps on damages for medical malpractice lawsuits.
As lawmakers search for ways to trim health care costs, debate continues over the country's medical malpractice laws. Physician groups say caps limit frivolous lawsuits that can drive good doctors out of business. But patients and their families argue that limits on payouts diminish accountability, making it hard to find lawyers to take cases and force full disclosure from doctors.