Article 1B.

Medical Malpractice Actions.

90-21.11. Definitions.

The following definitions apply in this Article:

(1) Health care provider. - Without limitation, any of the following:

a. A person who pursuant to the provisions of Chapter 90 of the General Statutes is licensed, or is otherwise registered or certified to engage in the practice of or otherwise performs duties associated with any of the following: medicine, surgery, dentistry, pharmacy, optometry, midwifery, osteopathy, podiatry, chiropractic, radiology, nursing, physiotherapy, pathology, anesthesiology, anesthesia, laboratory analysis, rendering assistance to a physician, dental hygiene, psychiatry, or psychology.

b. A hospital, a nursing home licensed under Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, or an adult care home licensed under Chapter 131D of the General Statutes.

c. Any other person who is legally responsible for the negligence of a person described by sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, a hospital, a nursing home licensed under Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, or an adult care home licensed under Chapter 131D of the General Statutes.

d. Any other person acting at the direction or under the supervision of a person described by sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision, a hospital, a nursing home licensed under Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, or an adult care home licensed under Chapter 131D of the General Statutes.

e. Any paramedic, as defined in G.S. 131E-155(15a).

(2) Medical malpractice action. - Either of the following:

a. A civil action for damages for personal injury or death arising out of the furnishing or failure to furnish professional services in the performance of medical, dental, or other health care by a health care provider.

b. A civil action against a hospital, a nursing home licensed under Chapter 131E of the General Statutes, or an adult care home licensed under Chapter 131D of the General Statutes for damages for personal injury or death, when the civil action (i) alleges a breach of administrative or corporate duties to the patient, including, but not limited to, allegations of negligent credentialing or negligent monitoring and supervision and (ii) arises from the same facts or circumstances as a claim under sub-subdivision a. of this subdivision. (1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, s. 4; 1987, c. 859, s. 1; 1995, c. 509, s. 135.2(o); 2011-400, s. 5; 2017-131, s. 1.)

 

90-21.12. Standard of health care.

(a) Except as provided in subsection (b) of this section, in any medical malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90-21.11(2)(a), the defendant health care provider shall not be liable for the payment of damages unless the trier of fact finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the care of such health care provider was not in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities under the same or similar circumstances at the time of the alleged act giving rise to the cause of action; or in the case of a medical malpractice action as defined in G.S. 90-21.11(2)(b), the defendant health care provider shall not be liable for the payment of damages unless the trier of fact finds by the greater weight of the evidence that the action or inaction of such health care provider was not in accordance with the standards of practice among similar health care providers situated in the same or similar communities under the same or similar circumstances at the time of the alleged act giving rise to the cause of action.

(b) In any medical malpractice action arising out of the furnishing or the failure to furnish professional services in the treatment of an emergency medical condition, as the term "emergency medical condition" is defined in 42 U.S.C. 1395dd(e)(1)(A), the claimant must prove a violation of the standards of practice set forth in subsection (a) of this section by clear and convincing evidence. (1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, s. 4; 2011-283, s. 4.1(a); 2011-400, s. 6.)

 

90-21.12A. Nonresident physicians.

A patient may bring a medical malpractice claim in the courts of this State against a nonresident physician who practices medicine or surgery by use of any electronic or other media in this State. (1997-514, s. 2.)

 

90-21.13. Informed consent to health care treatment or procedure.

(a) No recovery shall be allowed against any health care provider upon the grounds that the health care treatment was rendered without the informed consent of the patient or other person authorized to give consent for the patient where:

(1) The action of the health care provider in obtaining the consent of the patient or other person authorized to give consent for the patient was in accordance with the standards of practice among members of the same health care profession with similar training and experience situated in the same or similar communities; and

(2) A reasonable person, from the information provided by the health care provider under the circumstances, would have a general understanding of the procedures or treatments and of the usual and most frequent risks and hazards inherent in the proposed procedures or treatments which are recognized and followed by other health care providers engaged in the same field of practice in the same or similar communities; or

(3) A reasonable person, under all the surrounding circumstances, would have undergone such treatment or procedure had he been advised by the health care provider in accordance with the provisions of subdivisions (1) and (2) of this subsection.

(b) A consent which is evidenced in writing and which meets the foregoing standards, and which is signed by the patient or other authorized person, shall be presumed to be a valid consent. This presumption, however, may be subject to rebuttal only upon proof that such consent was obtained by fraud, deception or misrepresentation of a material fact. A consent that meets the foregoing standards, that is given by a patient, or other authorized person, who under all the surrounding circumstances has capacity to make and communicate health care decisions, is a valid consent.

(c) The following persons, in the order indicated, are authorized to consent to medical treatment on behalf of a patient who is comatose or otherwise lacks capacity to make or communicate health care decisions:

(1) A guardian of the patient's person, or a general guardian with powers over the patient's person, appointed by a court of competent jurisdiction pursuant to Article 5 of Chapter 35A of the General Statutes; provided that, if the patient has a health care agent appointed pursuant to a valid health care power of attorney, the health care agent shall have the right to exercise the authority to the extent granted in the health care power of attorney and to the extent provided in G.S. 32A-19(a) unless the Clerk has suspended the authority of that health care agent in accordance with G.S. 35A-1208(a).

(2) A health care agent appointed pursuant to a valid health care power of attorney, to the extent of the authority granted.

(3) An agent, with powers to make health care decisions for the patient, appointed by the patient, to the extent of the authority granted.

(4) The patient's spouse.

(5) A majority of the patient's reasonably available parents and children who are at least 18 years of age.

(6) A majority of the patient's reasonably available siblings who are at least 18 years of age.

(7) An individual who has an established relationship with the patient, who is acting in good faith on behalf of the patient, and who can reliably convey the patient's wishes.

(c1) If none of the persons listed under subsection (c) of this section is reasonably available, then the patient's attending physician, in the attending physician's discretion, may provide health care treatment without the consent of the patient or other person authorized to consent for the patient if there is confirmation by a physician other than the patient's attending physician of the patient's condition and the necessity for treatment; provided, however, that confirmation of the patient's condition and the necessity for treatment are not required if the delay in obtaining the confirmation would endanger the life or seriously worsen the condition of the patient.

(d) No action may be maintained against any health care provider upon any guarantee, warranty or assurance as to the result of any medical, surgical or diagnostic procedure or treatment unless the guarantee, warranty or assurance, or some note or memorandum thereof, shall be in writing and signed by the provider or by some other person authorized to act for or on behalf of such provider.

(e) In the event of any conflict between the provisions of this section and those of G.S. 35A-1245, 90-21.17, and 90-322, Articles 1A and 19 of Chapter 90, and Article 3 of Chapter 122C of the General Statutes, the provisions of those sections and Articles shall control and continue in full force and effect. (1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, s. 4; 2003-13, s. 5; 2007-502, s. 13; 2008-187, s. 37(b); 2017-153, s. 2.5; 2018-142, s. 35(a).)

 

90-21.14. First aid or emergency treatment; liability limitation.

(a) Any person, including a volunteer medical or health care provider at a facility of a local health department as defined in G.S. 130A-2 or at a nonprofit community health center or a volunteer member of a rescue squad, who voluntarily and without expectation of compensation renders first aid or emergency health care treatment to a person who is unconscious, ill or injured,

(1) When the reasonably apparent circumstances require prompt decisions and actions in medical or other health care, and

(2) When the necessity of immediate health care treatment is so reasonably apparent that any delay in the rendering of the treatment would seriously worsen the physical condition or endanger the life of the person,

shall not be liable for damages for injuries alleged to have been sustained by the person or for damages for the death of the person alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the rendering of the treatment unless it is established that the injuries were or the death was caused by gross negligence, wanton conduct or intentional wrongdoing on the part of the person rendering the treatment. The immunity conferred in this section also applies to any person who uses an automated external defibrillator (AED) and otherwise meets the requirements of this section.

(a1) Recodified as G.S. 90-21.16 by Session Laws 2001-230, s. 1(a), effective October 1, 2001.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to relieve any person from liability for damages for injury or death caused by an act or omission on the part of such person while rendering health care services in the normal and ordinary course of his business or profession. Services provided by a volunteer health care provider who receives no compensation for his services and who renders first aid or emergency treatment to members of athletic teams are deemed not to be in the normal and ordinary course of the volunteer health care provider's business or profession.

(c) In the event of any conflict between the provisions of this section and those of G.S. 20-166(d), the provisions of G.S. 20-166(d) shall control and continue in full force and effect. (1975, 2nd Sess., c. 977, s. 4; 1985, c. 611, s. 2; 1989, cc. 498, 655; 1991, c. 655, s. 1; 1993, c. 439, s. 1; 1995, c. 85, s. 1; 2000-5, s. 4; 2001-230, ss. 1(a), 2; 2009-424, s. 1; 2014-120, s. 18.)

 

90-21.15. Emergency treatment using automated external defibrillator; immunity.

(a) It is the intent of the General Assembly that, when used in accordance with this section, an automated external defibrillator may be used during an emergency for the purpose of attempting to save the life of another person who is in or who appears to be in cardiac arrest.

(b) For purposes of this section:

(1) "Automated external defibrillator" means a device, heart monitor, and defibrillator that meets all of the following requirements:

a. The device has received approval from the United States Food and Drug Administration of its premarket notification filed pursuant to 21 U.S.C. 360(k), as amended.

b. The device is capable of recognizing the presence or absence of ventricular fibrillation or rapid ventricular tachycardia and is capable of determining, without intervention by an operator, whether defibrillation should be performed.

c. Upon determining that defibrillation should be performed, the device automatically charges and requests delivery of, or delivers, an electrical impulse to an individual's heart.

(2) "Person" means an individual, corporation, limited liability company, partnership, association, unit of government, or other legal entity.

(3) "Training" means a nationally recognized course or training program in cardiopulmonary resuscitation (CPR) and automated external defibrillator use including the programs approved and provided by the:

a. American Heart Association.

b. American Red Cross.

(c) The use of an automated external defibrillator when used to attempt to save or to save a life shall constitute "first-aid or emergency health care treatment" under G.S. 90-21.14(a).

(d) The person who provides the cardiopulmonary resuscitation and automated external defibrillator training to a person using an automated external defibrillator, the person responsible for the site where the automated external defibrillator is located when the person has provided for a program of training, and a North Carolina licensed physician writing a prescription without compensation for an automated external defibrillator whether or not required by any federal or state law, shall be immune from civil liability arising from the use of an automated external defibrillator used in accordance with subsection (c) of this section.

(e) The immunity from civil liability otherwise existing under law shall not be diminished by the provisions of this section.

(f) Nothing in this section requires the purchase, placement, or use of automated external defibrillators by any person, entity, or agency of State, county, or local government. Nothing in this section applies to a product's liability claim against a manufacturer or seller as defined in G.S. 99B-1.

(g) In order to enhance public health and safety, a seller of an automated external defibrillator shall notify the North Carolina Department of Health and Human Services, Division of Health Service Regulation, Office of Emergency Medical Services of the existence, location, and type of automated external defibrillator. (2000-113, s. 1; 2007-182, s. 1.1.)

 

90-21.15A. Emergency treatment using epinephrine auto-injector; immunity.

(a) Definitions. - The following definitions apply in this section:

(1) Administer. - The direct application of an epinephrine auto-injector to the body of an individual.

(2) Authorized entity. - Any entity or organization, other than a school described in G.S. 115C-375.2A, at which allergens capable of causing anaphylaxis may be present, including, but not limited to, recreation camps, colleges, universities, day care facilities, youth sports leagues, amusement parks, restaurants, places of employment, and sports arenas. An authorized entity shall also include any person, corporation, or other entity that owns or operates any entity or organization listed.

(3) Epinephrine auto-injector. - A single-use device used for the automatic injection of a premeasured dose of epinephrine into the human body.

(4) Health care provider. - A health care provider licensed to prescribe drugs under the laws of this State.

(5) Provide. - To supply one or more epinephrine auto-injectors to an individual.

(b) Prescribing to Authorized Entities Permitted. - A health care provider may prescribe epinephrine auto-injectors in the name of an authorized entity for use in accordance with this section, and pharmacists and health care providers may dispense epinephrine auto-injectors pursuant to a prescription issued in the name of an authorized entity. A prescription issued pursuant to this section shall be valid for no more than two years.

(c) Authorized Entities Permitted to Maintain Supply. - An authorized entity may acquire and stock a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors pursuant to a prescription issued in accordance with this section. An authorized entity that acquires and stocks epinephrine auto-injectors shall make a good-faith effort to store the supply of epinephrine auto-injectors in accordance with the epinephrine auto-injector manufacturer's instructions for use and any additional requirements that may be established by the Department of Health and Human Services. An authorized entity that acquires and stocks a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors pursuant to a prescription issued in accordance with this section shall designate employees or agents to be responsible for the storage, maintenance, control, and general oversight of epinephrine auto-injectors acquired by the authorized entity.

(d) Use of Epinephrine Auto-Injectors by Authorized Entities. - An employee or agent of an authorized entity or other individual who has completed the training required by subsection (e) of this section may use epinephrine auto-injectors prescribed pursuant to G.S. 90-726.1 to do any of the following:

(1) Provide an epinephrine auto-injector to any individual who the employee, agent, or other individual believes in good faith is experiencing anaphylaxis, or a person believed in good faith to be the parent, guardian, or caregiver of such individual, for immediate administration, regardless of whether the individual has a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector or has previously been diagnosed with an allergy.

(2) Administer an epinephrine auto-injector to any individual who the employee, agent, or other individual believes in good faith is experiencing anaphylaxis, regardless of whether the individual has a prescription for an epinephrine auto-injector or has previously been diagnosed with an allergy.

(e) Mandatory Training Program. - An authorized entity that elects to acquire and stock a supply of epinephrine auto-injectors as described in subsection (c) of this section shall designate employees or agents to complete an anaphylaxis training program. The training may be conducted online or in person and shall, at a minimum, include all of the following components:

(1) How to recognize signs and symptoms of severe allergic reactions, including anaphylaxis.

(2) Standards and procedures for the storage and administration of an epinephrine auto-injector.

(3) Emergency follow-up procedures.

In-person training shall cover the three components listed in this subsection and be conducted by (i) a physician, physician assistant, or registered nurse licensed to practice in this State; (ii) a nationally recognized organization experienced in training laypersons in emergency health treatment; or (iii) an entity or individual approved by the Department of Health and Human Services.

Online training shall cover the three components listed in this subsection and be offered (i) by a nationally recognized organization experienced in training laypersons in emergency health treatment; (ii) by an entity or individual approved by the Department of Health and Human Services; or (iii) by means of an online training course that has been approved by another state.

(f) Immunity. -

(1) The following persons are immune from criminal liability and from suit in any civil action brought by any person for injuries or related damages that result from any act or omission taken pursuant to this section:

a. Any authorized entity that voluntarily and without expectation of payment possesses and makes available epinephrine auto-injectors.

b. Any employee or agent of an authorized entity, or any other individual, who provides or administers an epinephrine auto-injector to an individual whom the employee, agent, or other individual believes in good faith is experiencing symptoms of anaphylaxis and has completed the required training set forth in subsection (e) of this section.

c. A health care provider that prescribes epinephrine auto-injectors to an authorized entity.

d. A pharmacist or health care provider that dispenses epinephrine auto-injectors to an authorized entity.

e. Any individual or entity that conducts the training mandated by subsection (e) of this section.

(2) The immunity conferred by this section does not apply to acts or omissions constituting willful or wanton conduct as defined in G.S. 1D-5(7) or intentional wrongdoing.

(3) Nothing in this section creates or imposes any duty, obligation, or basis for liability on any authorized entity, any employee or agent of an authorized entity, or any other individual to acquire, possess, store, make available, or administer an epinephrine auto-injector.

(4) This section does not eliminate, limit, or reduce any other immunity or defense that may be available under State law, including the protections set forth in G.S. 90-21.14.

(g) Liability for Acts Outside of This State. - An authorized entity located in this State shall not be liable under the laws of this State for any injuries or related damages resulting from the provision or administration of an epinephrine auto-injector outside of this State under either of the following circumstances:

(1) If the authorized entity would not have been liable for such injuries or related damages if the epinephrine auto-injector had been provided or administered within this State.

(2) If the authorized entity is not liable for such injuries or related damages under the laws of the state in which the epinephrine auto-injector was provided or administered.

(h) Does Not Constitute Practice of Medicine. - The administration of an epinephrine auto-injector in accordance with this section is not the practice of medicine or any other profession that otherwise requires licensure. (2015-274, s. 1.)

 

90-21.16. Volunteer health care professionals; liability limitation.

(a) This section applies as follows:

(1) Any volunteer medical or health care provider at a facility of a local health department or at a nonprofit community health center,

(2) Any volunteer medical or health care provider rendering services to a patient referred by a local health department as defined in G.S. 130A-2(5), nonprofit community health center, or nonprofit community health referral service at the provider's place of employment,

(3) Any volunteer medical or health care provider serving as medical director of an emergency medical services (EMS) agency, or

(4) Repealed by Session Laws 2011-355, s. 7, effective June 27, 2011.

(5) Any volunteer medical or health care provider licensed or certified in this State who provides services within the scope of the provider's license or certification at a free clinic facility, who receives no compensation for medical services or other related services rendered at the facility, center, agency, or clinic, or who neither charges nor receives a fee for medical services rendered to the patient referred by a local health department, nonprofit community health center, or nonprofit community health referral service at the provider's place of employment shall not be liable for damages for injuries or death alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the rendering of the services unless it is established that the injuries or death were caused by gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing on the part of the person rendering the services. The free clinic, local health department facility, nonprofit community health center, nonprofit community health referral service, or agency shall use due care in the selection of volunteer medical or health care providers, and this subsection shall not excuse the free clinic, health department facility, community health center, or agency for the failure of the volunteer medical or health care provider to use ordinary care in the provision of medical services to its patients.

(b) Nothing in this section shall be deemed or construed to relieve any person from liability for damages for injury or death caused by an act or omission on the part of such person while rendering health care services in the normal and ordinary course of his or her business or profession. Services provided by a medical or health care provider who receives no compensation for his or her services and who voluntarily renders such services at the provider's place of employment, facilities of free clinics, local health departments as defined in G.S. 130A-2, nonprofit community health centers, or as a volunteer medical director of an emergency medical services (EMS) agency, are deemed not to be in the normal and ordinary course of the volunteer medical or health care provider's business or profession.

(c) As used in this section, a "free clinic" is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization organized for the purpose of providing health care services without charge or for a minimum fee to cover administrative costs.

(c1) For a volunteer medical or health care provider who provides services at a free clinic to receive the protection from liability provided in this section, the free clinic shall provide the following notice to the patient, or person authorized to give consent for treatment, for the patient's retention prior to the delivery of health care services:

"NOTICE

Under North Carolina law, a volunteer medical or health care provider shall not be liable for damages for injuries or death alleged to have occurred by reason of an act or omission in the medical or health care provider's voluntary provision of health care services unless it is established that the injuries or death were caused by gross negligence, wanton conduct, or intentional wrongdoing on the part of the volunteer medical or health care provider."

(d) A nonprofit community health referral service that refers low-income patients to medical or health care providers for free services is not liable for the acts or omissions of the medical or health care providers in rendering service to that patient if the nonprofit community health referral service maintains liability insurance covering the acts and omissions of the nonprofit health referral service and any liability pursuant to subsection (a) of this section.

(e) As used in this section, a "nonprofit community health referral service" is a nonprofit, 501(c)(3) tax-exempt organization organized to provide for no charge the referral of low-income, uninsured patients to volunteer health care providers who provide health care services without charge to patients. (1991, c. 655, s. 1,; 1993, c. 439, s. 1; 1995, c. 85, s. 1; 2000-5, s. 4; 2001-230, ss. 1(a), 1(b); 2009-435, s. 1; 2011-355, s. 7; 2013-49, s. 1.)

 

90-21.17. Portable do not resuscitate order and Medical Order for Scope of Treatment.

(a) It is the intent of this section to recognize a patient's desire and right to withhold cardiopulmonary resuscitation and other life-prolonging measures to avoid loss of dignity and unnecessary pain and suffering through the use of a portable do not resuscitate ("DNR") order or a Medical Order for Scope of Treatment (MOST).

This section establishes an optional and nonexclusive procedure by which a patient or the patient's representative may exercise this right.

(b) A physician may issue a portable DNR order or MOST for a patient:

(1) With the consent of the patient;

(2) If the patient is a minor, with the consent of the patient's parent or guardian; or

(3) If the patient is not a minor but is incapable of making an informed decision regarding consent for the order, with the consent of the patient's representative.

The physician shall document the basis for the DNR order or MOST in the patient's medical record. When the order is a MOST, the patient or the patient's representative must sign the form, provided, however, that if it is not practicable for the patient's representative to sign the original MOST form, the patient's representative shall sign a copy of the completed form and return it to the health care professional completing the form. The copy of the form with the signature of the patient's representative, whether in paper or electronic form, shall be placed in the patient's medical record. When the signature of the patient's representative is on a separate copy of the MOST form, the original MOST form must indicate in the appropriate signature field that the signature is "on file".

(c) The Department of Health and Human Services shall develop a portable DNR order form and a MOST form. The official DNR form shall include fields for the name of the patient; the name, address, and telephone number of the physician; the signature of the physician; and other relevant information. At a minimum, the official MOST form shall include fields for: the name of the patient; an advisory that a patient is not required to have a MOST; the name, telephone number, and signature of the physician, physician assistant, or nurse practitioner authorizing the order; the name and contact information of the health care professional who prepared the form with the patient or the patient's representative; information on who agreed (i.e., the patient or the patient's representative) to the options selected on the MOST form; a range of options for cardiopulmonary resuscitation, medical interventions, antibiotics, medically administered fluids and nutrition; patient or patient representative's name, contact information, and signature; effective date of the form and review dates; a prominent advisory that directions in a MOST form may suspend, while those MOST directions are in effect, any conflicting directions in a patient's previously executed declaration of an advance directive for a natural death ("living will"), health care power of attorney, or other legally authorized instrument; and an advisory that the MOST may be revoked by the patient or the patient's representative. The official MOST form shall also include the following statement written in boldface type directly above the signature line: "You are not required to sign this form to receive treatment." The form may be approved by reference to a standard form that meets the requirements of this subsection. For purposes of this section, the "patient's representative" means an individual from the list of persons authorized to consent to the withholding of life-prolonging measures pursuant to G.S. 90-322.

(d) No physician, emergency medical professional, hospice provider, or other health care provider shall be subject to criminal prosecution, civil liability, or disciplinary action by any professional licensing or certification agency for withholding cardiopulmonary resuscitation or other life-prolonging measures from a patient in good faith reliance on an original DNR order or MOST form adopted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section, provided that (i) there are no reasonable grounds for doubting the validity of the order or the identity of the patient, and (ii) the provider does not have actual knowledge of the revocation of the portable DNR order or MOST. No physician, emergency medical professional, hospice provider, or other health care provider shall be subject to criminal prosecution, civil liability, or disciplinary action by any professional licensing or certification agency for failure to follow a DNR order or MOST form adopted pursuant to subsection (c) of this section if the provider had no actual knowledge of the existence of the DNR order or MOST.

(e) A health care facility may develop policies and procedures that authorize the facility's provider to accept a portable DNR order or MOST as if it were an order of the medical staff of that facility. This section does not prohibit a physician in a health care facility from issuing a written order, other than a portable DNR order or MOST not to resuscitate a patient in the event of cardiac or respiratory arrest, or to use, withhold, or withdraw additional medical interventions as provided in the MOST, in accordance with acceptable medical practice and the facility's policies.

(f) Nothing in this section shall affect the validity of portable DNR order or MOST forms in existence prior to the effective date of this section. (2001-445, s. 1; 2007-502, s. 14.)

 

90-21.18. Medical directors; liability limitation.

A medical director of a licensed nursing home shall not be named a defendant in an action pursuant to this Article except under any of the following circumstances:

(1) Where allegations involve a patient under the direct care of the medical director.

(2) Where allegations involve willful or intentional misconduct, recklessness, or gross negligence in connection with the failure to supervise, or other acts performed or failed to be performed, by the medical director in a supervisory or consulting role. (2004-149, s. 2.9.)

 

90-21.19. Liability limit for noneconomic damages.

(a) Except as otherwise provided in subsection (b) of this section, in any medical malpractice action in which the plaintiff is entitled to an award of noneconomic damages, the total amount of noneconomic damages for which judgment is entered against all defendants shall not exceed five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000). Judgment shall not be entered against any defendant for noneconomic damages in excess of five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) for all claims brought by all parties arising out of the same professional services. On January 1 of every third year, beginning with January 1, 2014, the Office of State Budget and Management shall reset the limitation on damages for noneconomic loss set forth in this subsection to be equal to five hundred thousand dollars ($500,000) times the ratio of the Consumer Price Index for November of the prior year to the Consumer Price Index for November 2011. The Office of State Budget and Management shall inform the Revisor of Statutes of the reset limitation. The Revisor of Statutes shall publish this reset limitation as an editor's note to this section. In the event that any verdict or award of noneconomic damages stated pursuant to G.S. 90-21.19B exceeds these limits, the court shall modify the judgment as necessary to conform to the requirements of this subsection.

(b) Notwithstanding subsection (a) of this section, there shall be no limit on the amount of noneconomic damages for which judgment may be entered against a defendant if the trier of fact finds both of the following:

(1) The plaintiff suffered disfigurement, loss of use of part of the body, permanent injury or death.

(2) The defendant's acts or failures, which are the proximate cause of the plaintiff's injuries, were committed in reckless disregard of the rights of others, grossly negligent, fraudulent, intentional or with malice.

(c) The following definitions apply in this section:

(1) Consumer Price Index. - The Consumer Price Index - All Urban Consumers, for the South urban area, as published by the Bureau of Labor Statistics of the United States Department of Labor.

(2) Noneconomic damages. - Damages to compensate for pain, suffering, emotional distress, loss of consortium, inconvenience, and any other nonpecuniary compensatory damage. "Noneconomic damages" does not include punitive damages as defined in G.S. 1D-5.

(3) Same professional services. - The transactions, occurrences, or series of transactions or occurrences alleged to have caused injury to the health care provider's patient.

(d) Any award of damages in a medical malpractice action shall be stated in accordance with G.S. 90-21.19B. If a jury is determining the facts, the court shall not instruct the jury with respect to the limit of noneconomic damages under subsection (a) of this section, and neither the attorney for any party nor a witness shall inform the jury or potential members of the jury panel of that limit. (2011-400, s. 7; 2015-40, s. 9.)

 

90-21.19A: Reserved for future codification purposes.

 

90-21.19B. Verdicts and awards of damages in medical malpractice actions; form.

In any malpractice action, any verdict or award of damages, if supported by the evidence, shall indicate specifically what amount, if any, is awarded for noneconomic damages. If applicable, the court shall instruct the jury on the definition of noneconomic damages under G.S. 90-21.19(b). (2011-400, s. 8.)