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Medical Malpractice Lawsuits Can Lead to Better Health Care?

January 17, 2012
Colson Hicks Eidson

Another argument against tort “reforms” revolves around the reduced litigation caused by medical malpractice caps. Many people believe that allowing lawsuits actually provides motivation for healthcare professionals to work harder to protect their patients and therefore improves overall care. Accordingly, doctors fearing lawsuits will actually provide better patient care than those with none of the accountability that comes from litigation. Some experts suggest that fewer medical malpractice lawsuits may actually cause some physicians to become more complacent with their care of patients.

Other research indicates that although medical malpractice caps reduce the burden on insurers, they do not alleviate the growing problem of skyrocketing insurance premiums. One report reveals that limitations on medical malpractice awards produced payout averages 15.7% lower than those of states without caps between 1991 and 2002. This statistic is true despite the fact that many of the states did not institute the limitations until near the end of the reporting period.

Meanwhile, the median annual premium in states with caps increased an alarming 48.2%. Surprisingly, the median annual premium in states without caps increased more slowly: by 35.9%.  In other words, the median medical malpractice insurance premiums were actually higher in states with caps. This is contrary to the goal of the limitations on medical malpractice awards.

Capping malpractice awards does not help doctors. It harms those patients most catastrophically injured by medical negligence. It simply does not make sense.

Colson Hicks Eidson – Florida lawyers