The topic of medical negligence has made front page news in recent weeks,
specifically in states where patient safety has eroded due to strict immunity
or “tort reform laws.” In a recent Huffington Post blog titled: “
How Tort ‘Reform’ Ruins Health Care for Everyone” author Joanne Doroshow outlines new research that shows how the
impact of “tort reform” has undermined the medical system
and is doing more harm to injured patients, their families and damaging
health care in general.
The three studies published by Social Science Research Network focused
on “caps on damages” in nearly half the states in the nation
(including CA and TX) that enacted caps during the last “hard”
insurance market (2002 to 2005). The researchers then compared these data
to other “control” states. Using Patient Safety Indicators
(PSIs), the researchers considered the “standard measures of often
preventable adverse events, developed by the Agency for Healthcare Research
and Quality (AHRQ).” PSIs include such things as operative and post-operative
errors, infections, birth-related errors and cases at risk, like hospital-acquired
Here is a brief summary of the study results:
1) The first study shows evidence that patient safety generally declines
after caps are enacted.According to Doroshow, this is the first study ever that evaluates the
health consequences of any kind of “tort reform,” Read the
full study here.
2) The second study finds that “caps on damages” increase health
care costs stating that “no evidence that adoption of damage caps
or other changes in med mal risk will reduce healthcare spending.” Their research also determined “there is no evidence that limiting
med mal lawsuits will bend the healthcare cost curve, except perhaps in
the wrong direction.” Get the
report data here.
3) The third study showed “no evidence that cap adoption predicts
an increase in total patient care physicians, in specialties that face
high med mal risk (except plastic surgeons), or in rural physicians.” Click on the following link to
view the report data.
Perhaps these studies help shift the debate to more evidence based thinking
on “tort reform” legislation and unfair damage caps. As Oregon
medical malpractice lawyers, we see first-hand the damage caused by health care providers. We remain
committed to fighting to the rights of those injured so they receive the
settlement they deserve.
Social Science Research Network study: The Deterrent Effect of Tort Law:
Evidence from Medical Malpractice Reform
Social Science Research Network study: Do Doctors Practice Defensive Medicine,
Does Medical Malpractice Reform Increase Physician Supply? Evidence from
the Third Reform Wave