According to the Associated Press, The Virginian Pilot, and the Virginia Daily Press, The Virginia Supreme Court has ruled against a charitable foundation in regards to the organization’s request for immunity from medical malpractice lawsuits.

The health foundation, called the EVMS Academic Physicians and Surgeons Health Services Foundation, is affiliated with the Eastern Virginia Medical School (EVMS). Beginning immediately, the doctors working for the foundation will not be protected with immunity from any medical malpractice complaints filed against them. In the past the foundation had been claiming charitable immunity in malpractice suits brought against them. The decision was made on Friday, October 31.

In their decision today, the Virginia Supreme Court brought up a similar case that was decided earlier in the year involving very similar circumstance. In that case, which took place in February of 2008, a number of doctors affiliated with the University of Virginia in Charlottesville were taking advantage of their charitable immunity against medical malpractice suits until the courts ruled against them.

Today the Supreme Court argued that the Eastern Virginia Medical School case is much like the University of Virginia, Charlottesville case: the amount of charity work done by the EVMS Health Services Foundation is too small in comparison to its income and the foundation is run too much like a business to be considered fully charitable. In addition, the court added, the organization receives some funding from the state to care for patients in need of health care services.  

What does this mean for patients? If you were treated at either foundation by an affiliated doctor and have a medical malpractice complaint, you are now able to take them to court for their negligence whereas before they would be protected by their charitable immunity.