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RALEIGH, NC (AP) — A Republican effort to change medical malpractice lawsuit rules and place a limit on certain monetary damages for patients in North Carolina has cleared a significant hurdle in the General Assembly.

A Senate judiciary committee on Tuesday endorsed the measure, which would limit the amount of damages to $500,000 for a patient’s pain, physical impairment and disfigurement. The legislation also would require a higher negligence standard for mistakes performed in emergency rooms.

Sen. Tom Apodaca of Hendersonville says his bill would result in stable malpractice insurance premiums and attract more specialists to work in North Carolina.

Burton Craige with the state’s trial lawyers association said there’s nothing to indicate the law will improve patient safety and says the limit unconstitutional.

(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)

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