The Need For Medical Malpractice Tort Reform: Who Do You Believe?

An article entitled “The Falacies of Medical Malpractice “Tort Reform”” states, in part: “Organizations representing the state’s doctors and their insurers have been hard at work trying to convince the public that medical malpractice insurance premiums have escalated beyond affordability due to medical malpractice lawsuits, resulting in increasing healthcare costs and in physicians leaving New York. Hospital associations claim their industry needs relief from the high cost of malpractice coverage. Legislators are constantly lobbied by these groups, being told that malpractice litigation results in “defensive medicine” and that “frivolous” lawsuits result in “soaring” liability payments that drive up the cost of healthcare.”

“The fact is, healthcare costs are not driven by litigation. The inconvenient truth is that they are a result of epidemic levels of medical error and the economics of the healthcare industry.”

“Tort Reform” and other measures supposedly aimed at reducing the cost of medical malpractice coverage would deny victims of malpractice reasonable compensation for injuries caused by these errors. Moreover, the enactment of tort reform would merely shift responsibility for paying the victim’s expenses from the insurer to Medicare or Medicaid, without any change in malpractice policy premiums or healthcare costs.”

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Studies have shown: “When a state caps damages or enacts other tort reform, there’s absolutely no impact on insurance rates. There’s no correlation whatsoever between the laws in that state and the rate changes that take place. In fact, our last study looked at medical malpractice limits enacted between 2002 and 2006, when rates were increasing. States that enacted any kind of tort reform in that period saw, on average, a 23 percent decrease in rates. But states that did nothing saw an even larger drop—29 percent. And if you’re just looking at caps, states that enacted or lowered their caps saw rates drop 22 percent, but states that did not do that saw rates drop 29 percent. So it’s certainly not true that controlling insurance rates is a reason to take away patients’ rights. And rates have gone down everywhere since 2006.”

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“When Texas enacted severe “tort reform” measures in 2003, access to medical care grew by “close to zero.””

“Organized medicine continues to push laws that would reduce the accountability of unsafe hospitals and incompetent physicians. Yet hundreds of thousands of patients die each year due to preventable medical errors at the same time insurance claims and lawsuits are dropping. We have an enormous patient safety problem in this nation. Even sexual misconduct by physicians is going largely unchecked. The last thing we should do is try to solve these problems by increasing the obstacles harmed patients face in the already difficult process of bringing a case against the person or institution that harmed them.”

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The American Tort Reform Association (ATRA) alleges: “In state civil justice systems that lack reasonable limits on liability, multi-million dollar jury awards and settlements in medical liability cases have forced many insurance companies to either leave the market or substantially raise costs. Increasingly, physicians in these states are choosing to stop practicing medicine, abandon high-risk parts of their practices, or move their practices to other states … To help bring a degree of predictability and fairness to the civil justice system that is critical to solving the growing medical access and affordability crisis, ATRA recommends a medical liability reform packages that includes: (1) a $250,000 limit on noneconomic damages; (2) a sliding scale for attorney’s contingent fees; (3) periodic payment of future damages; and (4) abolition of the collateral source.”

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Unsurprisingly, “ATRA’s members are largely Fortune 500 companies with a direct financial stake in restricting lawsuits. Members have included representatives of the tobacco, insurance, chemical, auto and pharmaceutical industries. Corporate giants like Philip Morris, Dow Chemical, Exxon, General Electric, Aetna, Geico and Nationwide have all supported ATRA.”

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The Center for Justice and Democracy at the New York Law School states on its website: “”Tort reforms” (or tort “deforms”) are cruel laws that reduce the protections and rights our country provides to those who are injured by defective products, toxic chemicals, medical malpractice, and other wrongdoing. “Tort reforms,” which often change centuries-old common law, directly interfere with the independence of our nation’s civil justice system, tying the hands of judges and juries who hear the evidence in a case, and undermining our country’s uniquely individualized system of justice. They make it more difficult or impossible for injured consumers to hold wrongdoers accountable. Adding to the already existing barriers to court that exist for injured consumers, “tort reforms” present a peril to both family safety and democracy in our country.”

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If you or a family member may be the victim of medical malpractice in the United States, you should promptly consult with a local medical malpractice lawyer in your state who may investigate your medical malpractice claim for you and represent you or your family member in a medical malpractice case, if appropriate.

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This entry was posted on Saturday, January 25th, 2020 at 5:28 am. Both comments and pings are currently closed.

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