Medical expert witnesses at Medical Opinions Associates write on tort reform:
Let’s clarify the issue. Advocates of “tort reform” are really arguing for lower incidence of medical malpractice awards, smaller dollar awards, and lower medical malpractice insurance premiums for physicians. They also hope to reduce the level of “defensive medicine”, the result of which is higher medical cost in response to the fear of being sued.
According to the National Practitioner Data Bank, the number and dollar value of medical malpractice award payouts has been flat since 1991, and have actually declined since 2001.The figures presented by the National Association of Insurance Commissions back this up. Public Citizens’ Congress Watch in Washington, D.C. reports that medical malpractice award payments declined 13.6% from 2001 through 2004 (the latest data available). Award payments of $1 million or more actually fell 56% from 1991 through 2004. According to a Harvard University study, very few medical errors ever result in legal claims – only one claim per 7.6 injuries ever results in legal action. Of those claims, plaintiffs drop 9 of every 10 that are initiated. Let’s at least admit that a case made solely on the basis of the “exploding incidence” of medical malpractice claims and awards has its problems.