Tort Reform Myths / Medical Malpractice
Are Many Frivolous Malpractice Suits Filed?
For years, the insurance industry and doctors, in general have trumpeted the necessity of eliminating and/or severely reduce the size of any such verdicts. Some states have passed legislation severely restricting either the ability to file such cases and/or succeed at trying those cases.
In Tort Reform States, the insurance companies have claimed the following benefits: medical malpractice case always result in huge verdicts; doctors are ordering unnecessary tests and procedures because they are afraid of being sued; if Tort Reform laws are passed, then doctor’s insurance premiums will be reduced; many frivolous malpractice suits are filed; and malpractice cases are not necessary because of the quality of care in the United States. The issue is whether Tort Reform Laws are beneficial to anyone outside the insurance industry.
virtually impossible to sue ER doctors and hospitals
NEJM Tort Reform Study
On March 2, 2015, Forbes Magazine, a leading business publication, published an article discussing the effects of Tort Reform on healthcare. The article discussed a study performed by The New England Journal of Medicine( NEJM), which was conducted by doctors and healthcare professionals, not lawyers. Specifically, the study focused on Texas, Georgia and South Carolina, which passed Tort Reform Laws over ten years ago. The NEJM study examined emergency room visits in those 3 states because their laws made it “virtually impossible to sue ER doctors and hospitals.” The NEJM study examined 3.8 ER visits in the 3 states between 1996 and 2012. The NEJM study compared Texas, Georgia and South Carolina ER visits with non Tort Reform states. MRI’s and CAT scans tend to be very costly, so a doctor practicing defensive medicine would drive up healthcare costs by ordering these tests.
Dept. of Justice that found that the median medical malpractice jury verdict is $400,000.00
The NEJM Study concluded that doctors in Texas, Georgia and South Carolina ordered the same percentage of expensive tests as doctors in non Tort Reform states. Therefore, Tort Reform did not reduce the number of expensive tests ordered by doctors. Also, the article discussed finding by the Dept. of Justice that found that the median medical malpractice jury verdict is $400,000.00. To put this in perspective, only 1/10 cases involving “serious negligence” in medical malpractice ever end up being filed. Thus, less than 1/10 cases of serious negligence that are filed result in a median $400,000.00 verdict because some of those cases do not succeed.
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Posted on Thu, November 12, 2015
by Thomas Tobin